Friday, May 29, 2015

Don't Tell Me I Can't Do It by Dr. Erica Miller: Book Review

cover from Goodreads
Title: Don't Tell Me I Can't Do It!: Living Audaciously in the Here and Now
Author: Erica Miller
Publication Details: May 5th 2015 by Emerald Book Company
Copy: eARC from the publisher through NetGalley

Holocaust survivor Dr. Erica Miller shares the five core beliefs that she has acquired throughout the course of her colorful life in this engaging combination of memoir and self-help book.

From her experience as a refugee during the Holocaust to her time in the Israeli Air Force, Dr. Miller has seen the dark side of humanity. Yet rather than becoming bitter over these trials, she has chosen to live life with an optimistic spirit, determined to overcome any obstacle in her way.

Dr. Miller also candidly discusses her experience raising two small children while attending graduate school. Many readers will be able to identify with her struggles. Dr. Miller’s determination to live “life according to Erica,” and the lessons she has learned along the way, make Don’t Tell Me I Can’t Do It! a compelling read that motivates readers to live life in the here and now.

“Live life today. The past is gone. The future might never be.” This is one of the five core beliefs that comprise Dr. Miller’s philosophy. As a therapist, she has shared her belief in the power of optimism and self-reliance to help clients get their lives back on track. In this book, she imparts the same ideas to readers.


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In Don't Tell Me I Can't Do It, Dr. Erica Miller shared her 5 core beliefs in living an audacious life. Her 5 core beliefs, outlined as: life is a journey, flex your muscles, there is no failure, hurt brings opportunity and live life today, will definitely teach, if not remind, readers that life is too short to live under the confines of society.

Divided into 7 parts, the author was able to tell her story as a Holocaust survivor, a soldier in the Israeli Air Force, a student, daughter, mother and a grandmother. In a 64-page read, Dr. Erica Miller was able to impart her knowledge she acquired through her ~80 years in life.

Short yet inspiring. There are a lot of things I liked about the book. I was able to relate to the author because I have this desire to be more and do more. But unlike her, fear and sometimes laziness get the best of me.

Dr. Erica inspired me to be the best that I can be in the here and now, that I should enjoy my life as it is happening now. The book kind of reminded me of one Bible verse. Ecclesiastes 11:8…

I liked how, even though brief, she was able to tell her story and impart her acquired wisdom. Sure, change can be difficult and I don't have to embrace every principle she said but it motivated me to take a step towards self-actualization and consequently towards achieving my dream, as a pharmacist (my profession), and if in God's will, as a future wife and mom. (Perhaps, I'm getting ahead of myself here, but whatever. Haha!)

The author had her shortcomings but I liked how she acknowledged her mistakes. I liked how despite all the negativity she experienced even as a child, she was able to turn them into opportunities for growth.

In reading her book, I can see that Dr. Erica Miller has a very strong character. I really admire her for being a strong woman, and for seeing herself as someone who deserves what she deserves, not settling for anything less.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. And I can definitely see myself rereading this in the future, especially if I'm feeling down and unmotivated.


Friday, May 22, 2015

Feature & Follow #10: How I Write Book Reviews

Hi folks!
Happy Friday!


Feature and Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. It is where we, book bloggers, can meet new people and gain followers as well!

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This week's question is suggested by Blue Books and Butterflies.

How do you write your reviews?

I'm planning to write a separate discussion post about how I write my reviews, but I guess I'll do a summary here. Haha!

First, I am, in no way, a professional writer so my reviews are not very organized and I do commit mistakes. Haha! I write reviews simply because I love sharing my thoughts about the books I read.

It usually takes me 2-3 drafts before I post the final one. Haha! My book review is divided into sections: Book description, book summary (mostly from Goodreads), the review proper and about the author section.

The book review proper, also called My Thoughts, is composed of, well, my thoughts about the book's plot, world-building (if any), characters and the writing style of the author. At the end is a conclusion and my rating for the book. For non-fiction, I usually write a review based on what I learned from the book, how relevant the theme/topic of the book is to my life, the author's writing style and then a conclusion.

I'm not sure how I do in the "reviewing" department. But I feel happy when people tell me that they like my review. Haha!

That's all folks! How do you write your reviews?

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PS. I'm always open for constructive criticism of my blog content, so don't hesitate to comment or send me an e-mail. I want to improve this blog and be an avenue of bookish love! :)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Missing Era: The Emergence by A.O. Khalil: Book Review

cover from Goodreads
Title: The Emergence (Missing Era #1)
Author: A.O. Khalil
Editor: Adriane Hesselbein
Illustrator: Nicole Anderson
Publication Details: May 19, 2015 by Amazon Digital Services
Copy: ePUB format from the author
Buy: Amazon

They were just sinkholes, harmless sinkholes that were spreading like wildfire across the country. Then the disappearances started. A few people here and there then the entire army, gone in one night. Jay and Jule quickly find themselves thrown in the middle of a dangerous situation that only gets worse when something else comes that takes everyone by bloody surprise.

As they make ready to leave to gather with the rest of the family, something comes out of the sinkholes and begins attacking and killing everyone in sight. Before they know it they are in the middle of a war with an unknown enemy and an unknown agenda.

Will Jay and Jule survive their encounter or will they find themselves twenty-six feet under at the bottom of a sinkhole?

I got a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Plot
Fast-paced and entertaining! I was not expecting to like this book, but I did! I was hooked from beginning to end.

The prologue and the first chapter started as mysterious and very intriguing. I forgot what the book is about when I started reading, so I had no idea what the characters are against at. But as the story progresses, there came understanding of what's happening. I liked how the build-up and pacing of the story are just right such that I was being informed but, at the same time, some things were still a mystery that made me eager to go on with the story.

I also liked how unique the elements are. At first, I thought Jay (the main protagonist) and the others are against the usual vampires or werewolves or zombies. But The Emergence presented a 'new' set of creatures. I've never read anything like it before. Some plot threads are still unclear, especially, after the reveal towards the end. I really can't say much about these 'creatures' because I don't want to spoil you. But I really find the concept refreshing.

The action and the pacing was also sustained which made my reading more enjoyable and not at all boring.

Plot-wise, The Emergence is really a good read.

Characters
In general, the characters are okay and quite interesting as well. I don't think they were explored well (yet) since the book was told in only one POV, Jay's. However, from his point of view, they seem smart and brave. Some characters are still mysteries though, especially after the identity of the creatures were revealed towards the end.

I can't say that I connected well with the characters. I also don't think they are three-dimensional. But nevertheless, I'm still looking forward to their development (either negative or positive), especially Jay's and Jule's. I hope in the next books, I will be able to connect with them.

Writing
Told in Jay's perspective and in first-person POV, the writing style gave me a break from the usual third person narration. The style was quite different for me. It's one-sided but I think Jay's POVs were able to provide me a good view of what's happening in their world, as well as, though brief, backgrounds of the characters.

Also, Jay's narration gave an impression that he has a very active mind and tend to overthink things. It made him quite relatable in that aspect, because I tend to overthink as well. Haha!

The style of writing also has a smooth flow and is easy to follow. Despite the new concept the author presented, I was able to understand the core of the plot easily.

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The Emergence, the first book in the Missing Era series, is an action-packed and entertaining read. If you are up for a thrilling, urban fantasy-ish read, then this one is for you! I am definitely looking forward to reading the next book!


A. O. Khalil was born in the late summer of 1985 in Yemen. By the age of 16 he attended St Andrew’s College Cambridge in England. After completing his studies he left Cambridge for Bath University, where he earned his degree in Sociology.

In 2010 he moved with his wife to Slovakia and decided to set up their own business. It was then he started writing whenever he had free time.

When not writing or working he enjoys fine dining, cooking and going to the movies with his wife, daughter, family and friends (Source: Goodreads).


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Marry Me, Charlotte B! by Carla de Guzman: Blog Tour + Review


Title: Marry Me, Charlotte B!
Author: Carla de Guzman
Publication Details: April 30, 2015 by Midnight Books
Genre: New Adult
Links: Goodreads - Amazon - Smashwords

You are cordially invited to the wedding of the year!

Nellie Canlas loves her job. She loves being assistant to reality TV star and wedding planner goddess, the fabulous Charlotte Bertram, and she loves working with couples to make their wedding dreams come true. What she doesn’t love is having cameras following her all the time, especially when she’s crushing hard on the lawyer from another floor.

Robert Bertram doesn’t like planning weddings. He doesn’t like being on TV either. But when he finds himself in possession of Nellie’s diary, he thinks he can turn her into anyone’s dream girl. If he doesn’t fall for her first.
Plot
Marry Me, Charlotte B! follows Cornelia "Nellie" Canlas, an assistant to the famous wedding planner and TV reality star Charlotte Bertram, as she navigates her life from 'just an assistant' to someone who's chosen to coordinate a big wedding. But not only was she given a chance to prove her worth to the profession she loves, she's also in for a chance to finally embrace herself, be confident in her own skin and perhaps find love along the way.

This book is a short, cute, fun read! I did enjoy reading about Nellie and the behind-the-scenes of a wedding. It actually made me want to have my own wedding ASAP. But first, boyfriend! Haha!

Anyway, I liked that the book does not focus solely on wedding planning but also on the lives of the characters as they are being filmed for a TV reality show. In relation to that, I really liked the way the story was told. Marry Me, Charlotte B! was narrated in a third person voice from the perspective of someone watching a reality show (or an omniscient third person POV), complete with flashbacks and interviews. It gave the whole book a refreshing take to story-telling. However, remove the TV show part and it could be a bit cliché. But overall, plot-wise, Marry Me, Charlotte B! is a good read.

Characters
Despite the seemingly one-dimensional approach, I felt like I was able to know the characters. All the characters are likeable and that's really a plus for me because it made my reading easier.

I was able to relate to Nellie since like her, I'm kind of struggling with self-confidence and am always coming back to what is comfortable, not wanting to venture out more often. I liked her character development though. Nellie was able to break out of her shell. And though in little steps, I'm pretty sure that she'll fully embrace who she really is in the future.

Rob is another book boyfriend. Reading about him made me want to have my own Rob. Haha! He's such a good friend and is sweet both to Nellie and his mom. Not only that, he's also creative and talented. One order of Rob, please! Haha!

As for Charlotte, at first I did not know what to make of her. I have this idea in my head that thought of Charlotte as an unlikeable one. But thankfully, I was proven wrong. She played a big role in Nellie's development that kind of 'sparked' things up.

As I've mentioned earlier, the characters are all likeable. For a short-read, I think they are well-written and everyone played a part in the protagonist's development.

Writing
I like the author's writing style. It has a smooth flow and is easy to understand. I liked that I was able to picture the scenes in my mind easily (as what I've also experienced in her other book, Cities). I liked how she incorporates into the story a concept that brings a refreshing take to the whole book.

I'm not sure if the copy for this blog tour was a finished one. But I've seen grammatical errors. I'm not usually particular to grammar (Hey, I commit mistakes too!) but I noticed quite a few.

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Over all, I did like Marry Me, Charlotte B! I'm still puzzled by the title of the book, but I'm guessing it's the name of their TV show? I'm not really sure. Haha! Anyway, if you're looking for a short, cute, fun read yet poignant, I do recommend this one.



Carla de Guzman (ck.deguzman@gmail.com) had horrible handwriting as a kid. That didn't stop her from writing, though. Riddled with too much energy and a vivid imagination, she started writing every midnight. She grew up with her toes in the sand and her bags packed and ready to go on adventures. These books are chronicles of her journeys, with a silly love story mixed in.


When she’s not sitting in a plane or working, Carla writes for her blog, Some Midnights, Modern Filipina and for When in Manila.





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This blog tour is brought to you by:


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Bookish Pet Peeves

Hi folks!

Today, I would like to share with you my bookish pet peeves. Though I love reading and books, there are still a few things that put me off.

Love triangles!
There are a few well-played love triangles. But I will most likely not read a book if it has a love triangle. I especially do not like if the main character develops a feeling to love interest #2, when he/she is still with love interest #1. Or when the main character is still with love interest #1 but started “noticing” love interest #2 because the main and love interest #1 are kind of "not in good terms". Do you get me here, folks? Haha! Seriously, love triangles need to stop!


Different covers/height of books in a series
I do like my covers to match. They look very pretty in shelves, don’t you think? If books are cheaper, I wouldn't mind the difference because I can repurchase. But nope! Books aren't cheap at all.

Uniformity is important. Well, at least in this case. Haha!



Completely irrational characters
I do not like characters who act based solely on emotions. I will most likely find them annoying. A balanced play of rationality and irrationality is the key both in books and in reality. Okay? Haha!

Spoilers!
I don’t like spoilers because they can affect my reading experience. If I accidentally hear a spoiler about a book I’m yet to read, I will most likely not read it anymore. So yeah, no spoilers.

Folded pages/cover!
This doesn't bother me as much as the rest. But a folded or creased page/cover is something I do not want to happen, especially to my favorite books. I take good care of my belongings, you know. Haha!


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That’s all folks!

What are your bookish pet peeves?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Undertow by Michael Buckley (ARC): Book Review

cover from Goodreads
Title: Undertow
Author: Michael Buckley
Publication Details: May 5th 2015 by HMH Children's Book Group
Copy: e-ARC from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group through NetGalley

Sixteen-year-old Lyric Walker’s life is forever changed when she witnesses the arrival of 30,000 Alpha, a five-nation race of ocean-dwelling warriors, on her beach in Coney Island. The world’s initial wonder and awe over the Alpha quickly turns ugly and paranoid and violent, and Lyric’s small town transforms into a military zone with humans on one side and Alpha on the other. When Lyric is recruited to help the crown prince, a boy named Fathom, assimilate, she begins to fall for him. But their love is a dangerous one, and there are forces on both sides working to keep them apart. Only, what if the Alpha are not actually the enemy? What if they are in fact humanity’s only hope of survival? Because the real enemy is coming. And it’s more terrifying than anything the world has ever seen.

Action, suspense, and romance whirlpool dangerously in this cinematic saga, a blend of District 9 and The Outsiders.



Plot
The first chapter really intrigued me. I forgot what the book is about when I started reading so I don't really know what's going on, but I was immediately sucked into the story as I was trying to figure out what's happening.

Undertow is my first read about sea creatures so I thought it was a bit weird at first but I enjoyed it as I read along. I found myself wanting to know how things will turn out for Lyric, the protagonist, and the rest of the characters.

When the Alphas (the sea creatures) and their assimilation with humans were introduced, it kind of reminded me of the TV series Star-Crossed (minus the alien part). It was interesting though, how people reacted to such move by the government. I'm not sure how I would react, myself, but some people were so zealous and dead-set on opposing the assimilation that they would kill people. That was really scary.

Some major plot points are not at all unique but how the elements were taken together and how the plot progresses bring a refreshing take to the story.

There are still loose plot threads. But since Undertow is the first book in a series, I'm sure things will be explained in the succeeding books. The ending was quite a cliff-hanger. However, I liked that there's a lot to look forward to in the next book.

Characters
I think the characters, both the main and secondary, are interesting. I liked that there are many sides to them and they are three-dimensional. I think almost all of them gave mysterious vibes at the beginning but as I read along, I got to know at least some of their layers. It was fun to read about them and find out their qualities and their reactions given the circumstances they're in.

As for Lyric, one of the main characters, I liked that she is brave and sassy. I enjoyed reading about her. However, I think her character development was too sudden. It was a bit slow towards the middle but then it changed suddenly at the end that I find it quite unbelievable.

Lyric's relationship with Fathom is cliché. I don't think there's something unique about that part but I still enjoyed reading their encounters. I'm not too sure about how I feel about Fathom. He's an okay character but I need to know him better.

I also liked some of the secondary characters. One is Bex, Lyric's best friend. Her character is a strong one. Like Lyric, her character development was a bit too sudden for me. But nevertheless, I would still want to read more of her. Another are Lenny and Summer, Lyric's parents. I liked their relationship as a family. There are still the usual family dramas but I could see love and respect between them. They get along well, and perhaps in an alternative universe, where everything is normal, they are a very happy family.

Writing
Undertow is narrated in a first person's voice and in Lyric's POV. While Lyric's thoughts are okay and not at all annoying, I still wish for another character's perspective, perhaps Fathom? I think I would have enjoyed it more knowing the Alpha's side as well.

As I've mentioned there's still loose plot threads but otherwise I was able to grasp and understand the story and the characters' situation. I can't say it has a unique concept though, as some parts are predictable. The pacing can be a bit slow but there's a sudden change towards the end.

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More than the adventure and experience the book offers, Undertow is also a story about identity and relationship. It is a story of being brave for the ones you love and standing up

Overall, I did enjoy reading Undertow. It was fun to read but I was not totally amazed by it. Would I read the next book? Yes, I still would. I think more interesting things will happen in the next ones and I'm looking forward to reading them.


New York Times bestselling author Michael Buckley was born in Akron, Ohio. He tried his hand as a stand-up comic and lead singer for a punk rock back before attending Ohio University. After graduating with honors he moved to New York City to be an intern on the Late Show with David Letterman which led to stints developing programming for Discovery Networks, MTV, MTV Animation and Klasky Csupo (producers of Nickelodeon’s Rugrats). Today he lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife, Alison, and their son Finn.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Feature & Follow #9: Reading and Blogging Slump!

Hi folks!
Happy Friday!

Today is Labor Day in the Philippines so I don't have to go to the office and work. I'm sitting here in front of my computer catching up with reviews and wasting time on Tumblr! Haha! :)


Feature and Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. It is where we, book bloggers, can meet new people and gain followers as well!

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This week's question is suggested by Take Me Away.

How do you cure a book hangover/blogging slump/reading slump?

Interesting question! For the book hangover in general, I just let myself feel the book for sometime. Afterwards, I will be okay to read another book but in a different genre as the previous one. If the hangover is from a devastating read, I make sure that my next read is a lighter, happier one so I will not feel sad and down. :)

As for the reading and blogging slump, sometimes I just let it pass. I take a break and focus on other things. I've been in a reading slump and it kind of sucks. But I don't want to force myself into reading because it will worsen my inactivity.

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So yeah, that's all folks!
How about you? Do you have an active cure?