Category Archives: Booked

Book Reviews

The Truth About Forever (Sarah Dessen)

Rating: [rate 5.0]

The Truth About Forever (Sarah Dessen)A LONG, HOT SUMMER…

That’s what Macy has to look forward to while her boyfriend, Jason, is away at Brain Camp. Days will be spent at a boring job in the library, evenings will be filled with vocabulary drills for the SATs and spare time will be passed with her mother, the two of them sharing a silent grief at the loss of Macy’s father.

But sometimes unexpected things can happen — things such as the catering job at Wish, with its fun-loving, chaotic crew. Or her sister’s project of renovating the neglected beach house, awakening long-buried memories. Things such as meeting Wes, a boy with a past, a taste for Truth-telling, and an amazing artistic talent, the boy who could turn any girl’s world upside down. As Macy ventures out of her shell, she begins to wonder, Is it really better to be safe than sorry?

The blurb does not do justice with the whole book. It says a lot about the story, but nothing about the amazing characters.

Macy Queen strives to be perfect. Not because she wanted to, but she felt like she needed to. After the death of her father, she started hiding inside herself, convinced that her mother needed her to be strong. Macy tries to get perfect grades, gets the perfect (and smart) boyfriend, and is prepared to face the long summer with the things expected of her.

But with anyone who tries to avoid the proper stages of grieving in losing a loved one, it always catches up on you. That summer, Macy’s world turns upside down when she meets the Wish Catering crew. There’s Delia, the very pregnant owner of the business; Kristy, the fashionable girl who befriends Macy and gets her to go to the parties they go to; Monica, Kristy’s sister who barely utters a word (and probably can’t say a word about weight loss pill); Bert, the Armageddon-obsessed dorky guy who drives an ambulance; and finally, Wes, the guy with the past (as the blurb mentioned), and probably the hottest fictional guy I’ve ever read about. :P Seriously, there’s something about how Dessen wrote about Wes that makes me crush on him. :P

The cast of characters is one of the things that make this book interesting. I can’t imagine not having any of them there, even the two snobby girls at the library that Macy hates. Their reactions to the plot felt so real that I felt like I was there with them while reading it. I don’t think there’s any catering company that has as many disasters as the Wish catering crew did, but it’s that chaos that makes them who they are.

Story wise, it’s pretty straightforward. The things that happened aren’t that unexpected, really, like Macy’s mom’s breakdown or her leaving the job. It’s what you’d expect to happen in a storyline like this, and even if it is expected, it worked. The characters managed to carry the whole book through and leave an important lesson about grieving and imperfection.

And again, on Wes: I agree with what Sarah Dessen wrote in her book info:

I think that in a lot of ways, he was the kind of guy I was always looking for: one who wasn’t so interested in the “perfect,” girl, whoever she might be. A boy who likes flaws, who sees potential in everything. While Delia’s company may represent chaos, Wes to me is hope. To him, nothing is ever finished, or broken. It’s just waiting to be incarnated, to begin as something new, again.

Now who wouldn’t fall for a guy like that? :P

This is the type of book that I will re-read every year, just to get that tingling and fluttery feeling whenever Macy and Wes would start getting close. :) This is certainly one of the best YA books I’ve ever read. And if you’re into YA, I suggest you read it too.

BTT: Gluttony

In the light of The Great Book Blockade of 2009, I thought I’d answer this week’s Booking Through Thursday, since it’s highly appropriate (plus it’s actually quite easy to answer).

This week we have:

Book Gluttony! Are your eyes bigger than your book belly? Do you have a habit of buying up books far quicker than you could possibly read them? Have you had to curb your book buying habits until you can catch up with yourself? Or are you a controlled buyer, only purchasing books when you have run out of things to read?

YES!

Yes, I am guilty of book gluttony! I still have about 20 or so books in my to-be-read list, and that’s not stopping me from buying new books. It started on the first time I went to MV Doulos, where I got so many books which I haven’t even started reading yet. I think I only read 1/2 of the books on the list there. Then I went to the Manila International Book Fair and bought more books and then I got a new job and got more books…and more books…and more books. Eeeh. One of my simple joys is visiting the bookstore near my office and I almost always get something there, especially if it’s payday (which is today!) or if I am past my credit card cut-off.

Not only that, but I acquire ebooks in a flash too. My ebook collection isn’t as enough to fill in compact flash cards but it’s enough to have a reading backlog. I have about 12 or so in my iPod Touch that I have yet to read.

Yes, I’m a book glutton. Once I declared a book ban — where I told myself not to buy books for at least five months at least until after I made a dent in my reading list. I…didn’t exactly fail miserably, but I didn’t make a huge dent in my reading list. Hee. One thing I found effective to stop myself from buying books is actually hiding my credit card from myself. I only buy books using my credit card because of convenience, so that stopped me. I also made conditions for myself, like I can only buy this book I’ve been wanting to buy if and only if I finish reading this other book that I have been planning to read in ages.

But I can’t help it. I love books.

Putting import duties on them might ruin my buying though, since it’s going to be more expensive soon. :|

I haven’t bought anything in the past few weeks though, because there’s really nothing that I have been wanting to buy for so long, but then visiting the new Fully Booked in our area might change my mind. Let’s see. ;)

The Great Book Blockade of 2009

I meant to post this one earlier, but as usual, work got in the way.

Now, if there was anything that I know I love and will spend for (aside from my family), it’s books. I’d honestly rather spend on books than on clothes, really. And from all the book reviews I post in my site as well as the posts I write about books, it’s really obvious, right?

And this post is about books as well, but it’s really something that pissed me off when I first read about it, that I can’t believe it’s actually happening.

To make the long story short: we all know how hard it is to get stuffed imported in here from another country, unless you know someone from Customs. I’m not generalizing, but I’ve been a victim of this once, with an Amazon packaged purchased from my wishlist. I know that postal service sucks (for most part) in the country, and I am thankful to have been spared by it from the past orders/deliveries I received in the past months. But still, you know, there’s always the possibility of having a package I ordered being held up at the post office because I have to pay some kind of fee before I get it.

Now, apparently, early this year, there was this huge order on Twilight by Stephenie Meyer that reached the Philippine shores. Being very successful (ahem), it attracted the eyes of some customs officials and they demanded that duties (taxes) be paid for it.

Honestly, if I were to order something from outside the country and I’m really not in the mood to be hassled just so I can not pay those taxes, I’d probably just go ahead and pay it. Of course, we all know that’s wrong, especially when there’s no valid reason behind the additional fees, but again, who wants the hassle, right? And if you can afford it, why not?

Now the issue could have been just settled at that. I need my order of Twilight because my customers need them, so just so I won’t have to be hassled with trying to get away from the taxes and to pay for storage, I’ll just pay and get it over with. However, there is apparently a law that states that books are supposed to be tax-free. This law is called the Florence Agreement, a UN treaty where the Philippines was one of the original signatories.

I’m not much into law or any legal stuff (honestly those things make my head hurt), but I can understand that clearly enough. The Florence Agreement guarantees the “free flow of educational, scientific and cultural materials.” The reason why that shipment of Twilight was taxed because it’s not a textbook, ergo, it’s not educational. Tell me, when are books never educational? Regardless if it’s fiction or non-fiction? Or cultural, even?

Anyway, there was a lot of ruckus with interpreting the Florence Agreement (more of which you can read here), and eventually this came up: 1% tax on educational books and 5% tax on non-educational books. Who would decide if it’s educational or not? Why, the government, of course!

And again, when is a book not educational? (This really baffles me)

So anyway, there’s a lot more to this issue, and it’s really frustrating to know how this would affect us. Books would become more expensive, and because importing them would be a lot more expensive now (especially if it’s not “educational”), I predict that only the popular books would come in, and not the slightly less popular ones that are just as good. Again, books would become more expensive, and people would just resort to looking for free ebook versions instead. Or, okay, buy the ebook versions…unless someone finds a way to tax that too.

I’m being sarcastic, I know, but that’s just my ire, so forgive me. Again, I’m not too well-versed with law stuff, so I better leave the more nitty-gritty details of this to the people who know better. But please, spread the word. This entire thing is really preposterous (if I might borrow that long word :P), and we need more people to know about this issue.

Join the Cause on Facebook: Filipinos Against the Taxation of Books by Customs

The Great Book Blockade of 2009 by Robin Hemley
– The original article that started this all

Philippine Genre Stories on The Great Book Blockade of 2009
– by Kenneth Yu, with lots of reactions in it. This is a pretty long read, but it’s very, very informative.

The Long View:The Great Book Blockade of 2009
– by Manuel L. Quezon III

Essay: Clarifying the Great Book Blockade of 2009
Essay: More The Great Book Blocakade of 2009 Fallacies
Robin Hemley Responds

– All by Charles Tan — read it to calm yourself down a bit :P

A Taxing Matter
What is the street value of being human? (via Philippine Star)
by Jessica Zafra

We Ain’t Taxing Books Here: Bookbigayan 2009
– An actual event sponsored by Rock Ed that protests against taxes on books. It’s not a rally, but rather a book giveaway. It’s on May 24, 3pm onwards at Roxas Blvd. You may donate books and get some free books — all free of course. I’m not so sure if I can attend this, but I will really try.

The Great Book Blockade of 2009 on Bookmarked!
– By Blooey Singson, and it details her dealings with MCPO and Customs.

Letter to the President of the Philippines from Rep. Teodoro L. Locsin concerning the imposition of Customs duties on imported books sent May 11, 2009

The Stupidication of the Filipino – This and That and Whatnot
– by The Jester in Exile

The Great Book Blockade of 2009
– Comic strip c/o Beerkada

Espele Sales: “Books are non-educational”
– by Jayvee Fernandez

Binay: BOC should go after smugglers, not taxing books
– From Business Mirror

‘Book Blockade’ irks Miriam; Senate Probe Sought
– c/o ABS-CBN News

GBB: Dissecting BOC’s FAQ and DOF Guidelines

More Senators question ‘book blockade’
– c/o PhilStar

Duty-Free Books
– by Dennis Gonzalez, National Book Development Board Chairman

Today in Philippine Twittersphere: fighting the Book Blockade
– by Ia Lucero

If you have an article about this issue, leave a comment here so I can link you too. :)

City of Ashes (Cassandra Clare)

Rating: [rate 4.0]

City of Ashes (Cassandra Clare)A murderer is loose in New York City…and the victims are Downworlder children. Clary Fray and her fellow Shadowhunters have a strong suspicion that Valentine, Clary’s father, may be behind he killings. But if he is the murderer, then what’s his true motive? To make matters worse, the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, has been stolen and the mysterious Inquisitor has arrived to investigate, with his eyes vigilantly targeted on Clary’s brother, Jace.

Clary will need to face some terrifying demons and even more terrifying family decisions. No one said that the life of a Shadowhunter would be easy.

And finally, I got to read this book. Talk about resisting from buying the hardbound version and searching high and low for the paperback version just to read this book. :P

City of Ashes picks up some time after City of Bones ended, with Jace trying to forget what he found out and Clary trying to start her life again with her best friend Simon. But being who they are and everyone knowing is not easy, especially when the Lightwoods arrived at the Institute, driving Jace away and Clary coming to his aid, even if he didn’t want to.

I’m going to stop there because if I continue saying anything else about the story it would be a spoiler already. The second book of the Mortal Instruments is just as much as a wild ride as the first one, maybe even better. There were new characters introduced such as Maia, a werewolf, and even fairies who are also tricksters in Cassandra Clare’s world. We meet the ruthless and sort of crazy Inquisitor — who’s really a she, so it may be a typo on the blurb up there — and Max, the youngest Lightwood. There are also the old characters: Magnus Bane, Luke, Raphael the vampire.

There was a point in the novel when it started to feel like there’s so many things happening and that it’s taking too long to get to the actual climax of the story but after a while, it starts to get faster and we get somewhat of a satisfying fight scene with Valentine. We also get to know a bit more of what Clary can do, and I kind of wished she did it more in the novel. Oh, and there was a lot of angst, too, but it wasn’t too much that I didn’t want to read it anymore. The ending was surprising, heartbreaking and yes, very hanging, which is why I don’t know if I can wait for a year before getting a paperback copy of City of Glass. :P

The series shows great promise, and I’m really excited to know what would happen next. :) This series seems a real keeper, and I think I may start to rave about it now since I liked what I read for the past two books. I wonder if someone will ever pick this up to make a movie out of it…or maybe offer some tv deals, but I honestly think it would be hard to give proper justice to the book once it’s made into that. So I’d really rather read the books. :)

Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

Rating: [rate 4.5]

Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)In a remote Hertfordshire village, far off the good coach roads of George III’s England, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet — a country squire of no great means and his scatterbrained wife — must marry off their five vivacious daughters. At the heart of this all-consuming enterprise are the headstrong second daughter Elizabeth and her aristocratic suitor Fitzwilliam Darcy, two lovers in whom pride and prejudice must be overcome before love can bring the novel to its magnificent conclusion.

Altogether now: FINALLY! After two years of being on my to-be-read list, I have finally, finally read Pride and Prejudice, the so-called “mother of all chick-lit”. I bought my copy of the book in 2006, when after reading through a lot of instructions on how to write chick lit for my 2006 NaNoWriMo novel, I keep on getting references to Pride and Prejudice. It suddenly became a requirement for me, because I want to write chick lit, and what better way to learn it than to read old ones too, right?Now, I’ve mentioned it a lot of times here — I am not a fan of classics. The only classics that I ever read more than once were A Little Princess and Anne of Green Gables. I found the language daunting and some of them unbearably long. *looks pointedly at copy of Vanity Fair on to-be-read pile* I told myself back in 2006 that I’d read 10 classic books in a year but I only got as far as To Kill a Mockingbird (which I loved). I tried to read Pride and Prejudice a couple of times after I bought it, but like The Time Traveler’s Wife, I keep on getting distracted by other books, or I would stop reading it for a couple of days and feel completely lost whenever I’d get back to it. After discussing Austen stuff with some Wrimos and getting a suggestion to read it when I would be least interrupted, I set out to read it during the Holy Week. But The Time Traveler’s Wife took up my time during vacation so I couldn’t afford having uninterrupted time to read this. I can’t possibly wait until next Holy Week again, right? So I made a resolve to read at least a couple of pages everyday just so I wouldn’t get lost.

In a time where the modern technologies we know of such as computers, iPods and flash drives don’t exist just yet, is the world of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet and their five daughters. Pride and Prejudice is basically about Mrs. Bennet trying to get her daughters married — because really, what is there better to do? Okay, I’m being harsh on Mrs. Bennet, sorry. :P But the story is really about getting the Bennets married, first with Jane, the eldest, especially when the friendly Mr. Bingley arrived. However, there was another gentleman with Bingley, the brooding Mr. Darcy, who manages to insult Elizabeth Bennet too early in the story by saying that she is not handsome enough to tempt him.

It all starts from there — Elizabeth dislikes Darcy, and then she gets to join him for a couple of days because Jane gets sick when she visited Caroline Bingley. Then Darcy seems to be having a change of heart, with the notice of Elizabeth’s “fine eyes”, but his pride was too high for him to actually admit that.

Then started the teasings (or teazings, as Austen wrote) from both sides. Elizabeth gets an interesting proposal which she declines, learns her best friend is marrying, crushes on an officer who turns out to be Darcy’s enemy, and then finds out that Bingley has left the country without a word to her sister. In an effort to move on (or somehow, catch Bingley again), Jane goes to London while Elizabeth visits her best friend who is married to the benefactor of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who is the aunt of Darcy.

I’m going to stop there because revealing things after this would spoil the story, but that is exactly where things started getting better in the story. I admit I kind of trudged through the first part of the book because of the language, but when there was more Elizabeth-Darcy interaction, I was thrilled. There was something about the way they “sparred” with each other that made it very, very romantic.

Pride and Prejudice (2005)As with the few other classic books I read, there’s a lot of things going on in the story that sometimes felt like they didn’t really need to be there but turns out it has somewhat of a role to play for the ending. Well, okay, Anne of Green Gables did have a lot of short anecdotes about Anne that made her endearing and didn’t necessarily have a connection with the ones at the end, but Pride and Prejudice has them, and Austen managed to tie them all very neatly in the end. :)

In fewer words…I loved it. Okay, I may not really LOVE it, but I really, really liked Pride and Prejudice and I wouldn’t mind re-reading this one because of all its quirkiness and class. :) I even watched the 2005 movie version which was also good, but I kind of wish the second proposal was more faithful to the book. Ergo, I must watch the 1995 BBC version, yes? :)

Ah, Mr. Darcy. ♥

The Time Traveler's Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)

Rating: [rate 3.5]

The Time Traveler's Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)This is the extraordinary love story of Clare and Henry who met when Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-two and Henry thirty. Impossible but true, because Henry suffers from a rare condition where his genetic clock periodically resets and he finds himself pulled suddenly into his past or future. In the face of this force they can neither prevent nor control, Henry and Clare’s struggle to lead normal lives is both intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.

It took me a long time to stick to reading this book without being distracted by any other one in my to-be-read pile. I’ve had this book for almost a year, and I was really curious about the story when I first saw this book. But somehow, after reading through the first few chapters, it just…bored me. Maybe it was because the first few chapters involved Henry jumping through time for the reader to make sense of his condition and to establish his history with Clare, before the story starts flowing in an almost sequential manner.

I admit it was really a chore for me to continue reading the book. I don’t know why. Probably it’s because the book feels too serious to me, and it almost read like a classic and we all know how hard it is for me to get through a classic book. Maybe it’s because I didn’t really connect with any of the characters, even if they were pretty solid. Or maybe it’s because of all the sexual parts of the book that is normal for couples — especially the ones trying to conceive — but the ones that were done before their wedding was really…well, it’s really an issue against what I believe in, which isn’t really necessary to discuss in this review.

However, after the part of their wedding, I started to get more into the story. I don’t know why or how, but I started to be more interested in what was going on. I found myself rooting for Henry and Clare’s relationship, especially when they were trying to conceive. I found the same joy when their daughter was born, and the sadness when Henry found out what would happen to him sometime in the near future.

The ending was sad, and yet quite satisfying. It must have been a really hard thing for Clare to keep on waiting for Henry, not knowing where he was at a lot of times when he’s time traveling, or not knowing if she should believe when she sees two different Henry’s in front of her (makes you wonder how Henry would get identity theft protection if ever he wanted one).

I can’t say that it’s one of my favorite books, and I honestly can’t say I would be willing to read this one again. I didn’t think it was an Omg what a totally amazing book like some people thought it was, but it’s a pretty good one, and I’m glad that I finished it and I got to know what happened.

I’m probably watching the movie, just to see how they would interpret it in the big screen. :P

Keeping the Moon (Sarah Dessen)

Rating: [rate 4.0]

Keeping the Moon (Sarah Dessen)Colie expects the worst when she’s sent to spend the summer with her eccentric aunt Mira while her mother, queen of the television infomercial, tours Europe. Always an outcast — first for being fat and then for being “easy” — Colie has no friends at home and doesn’t expect to find any in Colby, North Carolina. But then she lands a job at the Last Chance Cafe and meets fellow waitresses Morgan and Isabel, best friends with a loving yet volatile relationship. Wacky yet wise, Morgan and Isabel help Colie see herself in a new way and realize the potential that has been there all along.

After finishing this one, I have read all of Sarah Dessen’s books except for Lock and Key whose paperback version is still not out. So let’s just assume I’ve read everything from this point. :P

Sarah Dessen is here with another great book, Keeping the Moon. I didn’t really understand why that is the title of the book while reading it, until the subject of the moon was brought up. And it tied up pretty nicely with a very nice ring to it. :) Anyway, Dessen has done it once again with a good storyline that is not only fit for young adults but also in those who are past that age but is still worried about impressions and looks. In this book, Colie was a fat kid who used to have a fat mom until her mother (and her) lost weight. Her mother became Kiki Sparks, fitness extraordinaire, and she just became Colie, who was somewhat missing all her flabs. On her mother’s European tour, she gets sent to her aunt, who is somewhat weird (with her outrageous outfits and the notes found on everywhere around her house), and meets a wacky cast of characters – Morgan, Isabel and Norman.

More than the story, it was the characters that drew me in the novel. There’s Mira, Colie’s aunt, who, as mentioned earlier, was kind of eccentric, and did not care one bit about how other people thought about her. There’s Morgan, the overdramatic neighbor who is in love with a baseball player and would make deviled eggs when she’s upset. There’s Isabel, Morgan’s housemate, who scares Colie at first because of her attitude towards her, but turns out she actually has an interesting past. And finally, there’s Norman, the guy who lived in Mira’s apartment, an artist, and a rummage sale freak with all odds and ends found in his room (I bet if he could find a way to squeeze in some automotive lifts in his room, he’d have those too).

As with other Dessen books, this was set over the summer, where a lot of things happen. Colie goes from a reserved girl who hid herself from the crowd because of what people at her school say about her, to a girl who learns to appreciate herself for who she was, and learns that she deserve respect just like every other person does. She draws strength from the people she meets over the summer in her confrontation with a bully, and then finds that she can also give strength to other friends who needs someone to be strong for them.

It’s a really nice story, and I liked reading it because it had a really nice message about perfection, self-respect and self-image. :)

Some of my favorite quotes in the book:

If something doesn’t work exactly right, or maybe needs some special treatment, you don’t just throw it away. Everything can’t be fully operational all the time. Sometimes, we need to have the patience to give something the little nudge it needs. (Mira)

You should never be surprised when someone treats you with respect, you should expect it. (Isabel)

The Fortune Quilt (Lani Diane Rich)

Rating: [rate 4.0]

The Fortune Quilt (Lani Diane Rich)Carly McKay’s life is going just fine until she produces a television piece on psychic quilt maker Brandywine Seaver and receives a quilt with an enigmatic reading telling her that everything is about to change. And it does. She loses her job and her best friend (who proclaims his unrequited love for her). And her mother, who deserted the family seventeen years ago, returns, sending Carly into a serious tilt.

Convinced it’s the quilt’s fault, Carly races down to the small artists’ community of Bilby, Arizona, to confront its maker, and ends up renting a cabin from her. Carly even starts to enjoy her reimagined life, until her old life comes calling. Now Carly has to decide what parts of each world she wants to patchwork in…and how much she’s willing to leave to fate.

I’ve been curious with Lani Diane Rich’s work ever since I learned that she wrote her first novel during NaNoWriMo, so when I finally got a chance to read one of her books, I grabbed it immediately. Look at that cute cover. :P

The Fortune Quilt starts with Carly’s sister’s wedding and with Carly, her younger sister Five and her dad making bets at who will be disturbing Ella’s wedding because of a dream that Five had. Turns out the disturbance was meant for Carly, from her ex Seth, and she was saved by Ella’s ex Will. Then we meet Carly’s best friend Chris, and the quilt maker Brandywine, and now we have the cast of characters complete. You just know something is going to happen right after all that normalcy.

And so it happens. Carly receives a quilt from Brandywine that apparently contains her fortune which Carly scoffs at, and then her world turns upside down. What’s a girl to do then? She runs away, not to any Vegas hotels (which is too far) but back to Brandywine, and into another cast of wacky characters in the town of Bilby.

In a way this book reminds me of The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella but with less spaz from the protagonist. There was the same tone of running away from the old life and finding a new one as the character is in the new place. However, Carly is a focused and smart woman who got her life turned upside down by forces that she couldn’t understand, while Samantha in The Undomestic Goddess got to where she was because she was too workaholic. And again, Samantha just feels a bit more of an airhead than Carly was.

The other characters in The Fortune Quilt were also hilarious — from the gay couple with their daughter, Brandy, Janessa, the grumpy man who always buys charcoal from the art store and sexy Will, who becomes Carly’s love interest in the story (you can tell from the first chapter).

This is a very fun read. It had just the right combination of humor and seriousness, and it’s a good way to get myself into Lani Diane Rich’s works. :) I’m definitely reading the other ones she has. :P

Geek High (Piper Banks)

Rating: [rate 3.0]

Geek High (Piper Banks)At this school, everyone’s a geek. And Miranda Bloom still can’t fit in…

Miranda is a math genius with divorced parents, an evil stepmother, and no boyfriend in sight. She can’t even fit in with the other geeks at the Nottingham Independent School for high-IQ students, because they actually have useful talents. Miranda, on the other hand, is known as “The Human Calculator,” which doesn’t amount to much when people have, you know, their own calculators.

Then Miranda gets stuck planning the school’s Snowflake Gala. And as she struggles to find a date and drum up some school spirit at Nottingham-aka “Geek High”-she finds that who you are means more than where you fit in.

I found this book and picked it up because I thought the cover was cute and the premise was interesting. I like geek books, and I was still on my young adult novel mode, so this seemed perfect.

I don’t know if it’s because I just finished reading Robin Palmer’s Cindy Ella recently shortly after I read this, but this one read a lot like that. I liked the story, I liked the characters and the entire thing, but there wasn’t really anything new about it, at least for me. The usual cast of characters were there: Miranda and her two sidekicks/best friends, her evil stepmother (who seems really evil), her stepsister who eventually becomes her friend, the guy she likes, the guy she ends up liking and the huge problem that is set on her because she tries to be different from what everyone expects her to be. It just feels a bit too formulaic and similar with what I’ve read a few books back.

Maybe it’s my own prejudices, but for now this book is just an okay book. Nothing too stellar, just one of those nice young adult books to read. Maybe when I get a copy of the sequel I’ll change my mind.

Dreamland (Sarah Dessen)

Rating: [rate 3.5]

Dreamland (Sarah Dessen)Wake up, Caitlin.

Ever since she started going out with Rogerson Biscoe, Caitlin seems to have fallen into a semiconscious dreamland where nothing is quite real. Rogerson is different from anyone has ever known. He’s magnetic. He’s compelling. He’s dangerous. Being with him makes Caitlin forget about everything else — her missing sister, her withdrawn mother, her lacluster life. But what happens when being with Rogerson becomes a larger problem than being without him?

This is definitely a far more serious Sarah Dessen book that all the others I have read. Dessen’s novels deal with serious issues, but this one feels even more serious than the other ones, from the very cover to everything inside. That level of seriousness kind of made me feel like even I was in dream land, like everything was surreal.

The story’s good, with remarkable characters, especially Cass and Boo. Cass only has a few lines but her disappearance and small reappearance had a huge impact in the entire story that I kind of wish there was more of her. I got annoyed at Caitlin for not standing up for herself but I also felt concern for her the way her family and friends did. However, I feel like there’s a lot more things that could have been uncovered, like why Rogerson did what he did, and what happened to him next. Then again, it was Caitlin’s story, so the focus was more on her, and how she recovered.

It was good, but it’s really not something I’m looking forward to read again and again, unlike The Truth About Forever or Just Listen. It’s also not something I’m going to let someone read when she’s new to Sarah Dessen’s work. Dreamland is good, but I honestly think it’s not as good as the others.