Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell | Rating: ★★☆☆☆

*To clarify, this is a rewrite of an old review, as my thoughts of the novel have changed through the years.  

Ages and ages and ages ago, I loved this book. It is still something I appreciate, on some level, even if my feelings have changed in the years. I certainly loved it all those years ago. Perhaps not as much as the hit HBO television series of the same name, but, it was still up there. Sex and the City was something of a stepping stone for a lot of women through the years and still, I think, holds true even in the years its been off the air. Certainly it's a pop culture phenomenon that still stays highly relevant in popular culture.

I'm always going to appreciate it, and the show, for what they are and how they shaped some aspects of who I became as an adult. I applaud it on many levels but somehow, somewhere along the way, the novel and show have lost their sparkle to me. I don't think I'll feel inclined to reread the book again, in the future, which is strange given I still love the characters from both the novel and show, and have some sense of attachment towards them, but there you have it. It's not that it's a bad novel, it just feels like the older I get the more boring and unappealing it is to me.


Sherlock Sam and the Ghostly Moans in Fort Canning by A.J. Low |
Rating: ★★★★☆

As a note, a printed galley of this novel was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.   

There's something delightful about Sherlock Sam and his detective work. Bringing a new generation into the problem-solving world that is a retelling of Sherlock Holmes, the highly anticipated second installment is just as fun and mysterious as the first. The Ghostly Moans in Fort Canning, is full of fun and will engage children and adults of all ages.

Back in action, my friend and her daughter positively adored Sherlock Sam and his adventures. I think they enjoyed The Ghostly Moans in Fort Canning more than the last in the series! And I have to admit, so did I. A.J. Low bring so much to the table in this novel targeted at younger kids that it's impossible to put down and you will be sporting a grin from start to finish.

The best part? Kids of all ages will learn a great deal from it--including, ahem, let's say: detective skills and better understanding the world he lives in (that handy section of information at the back of the books? Perfect!) and it's all in good fun. Sherlock Sam proves once again to be a hit waiting to happen and I expect to hear a lot more from this little guy with a healthy appetite and a knack for problem solving.

If you are a teacher or a parent, this series is just what you're looking for. Fast paced, simple, intelligent, thrilling and just flat out fun, Sherlock Sam has something for everyone.


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi | Rating: ★★★★★

"Sticks and stones keep breaking my bones but these words, these words will kill me."

Tahereh Mafi’s prose is magic. Oh, I could say so much more to start off my damn review but that is the first thing that comes to mind whilst looking back on how it felt to read Unravel Me. Shatter Me is a series that has progressed quickly, with a loyal and deserving fan base and the thing about the sequel is that it’s even better than the first. This time around we get to learn more about the world we caught only glimpses of in the first installment and it’s delightful. Action packed, intelligent and sexy–Unravel Me pushes the envelope in young adult literature and proves that sometimes it’s unwise to under estimate the genre.

After breaking free of her chains–twice–Juliette Ferrars is now able to say she has escaped the Reestablishment, free from her prison as a so-called-crazy person, free from Warner’s plans to use her as a weapon. At the end of Shatter Me we saw Juliette escape to Omega Point with Adam Kent, her flame, and Kenji Kishimoto. If you thought Shatter Me was full of action and suspense, then you are in for a treat with Unravel Me.


Kiss the Sky by Krista & Becca Ritchie | Rating: ★★★★★

People hope to touch the sky. I dream of kissing it. 

The Calloway sisters are back! Rose, Daisy and Lily have had their fair share of ups and downs since we were introduced to them a few books back. Up until this point we have been primarily witnessing these moments through the eyes of Lily Calloway. Now, Rose takes center stage as we embrace her as the first narrator in this installment and I couldn’t be more happy. Not only do we get to see the family through new eyes, we get to see how much more there is to Rose.

We already know quite a lot about her. Rose Calloway is independent, loving and tough. She loves her sisters more than anyone. She runs her own fashion line and is business savvy. Intelligent, driven and passionate–there are so many ways to describe her. At the start of Kiss the Sky, we see how her relationship with Connor has developed in time and more of that closeness with her sisters. Our primary plotlines are as follows: Rose’s *fear* of sex (and what may change in her relationship once she is no longer a virgin) and her desire to get her clothing line back up and running after her younger sister’s scandal broke.

In an effort to bring business back in and keep her fashion line in order, Rose is taking on a whole new role that could prove to be dangerous in its own light. Reality television. The show could end badly but it’s a risk she is willing to take, to get her line back out there and to also serve as a way for Lily to explain her story (and her boyfriend Lo) beyond the tabloids.


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Weekly Television Roundup | July 18th-22nd

Oh, yes. It's time to discuss some of my favorite shows currently on air--and let out all the love... or hate towards each program. Summer time means most shows are on a hiatus, with the exception of Pretty Little Liars and Aquarius. I'm perfectly fine with this, given my state of mind in good weather--I seem to be lazy and scatter brained when it comes down to keeping up with television this time of year, but this week I was kind of on fire. I traded in my lack of energy for a bit of entertainment on the good 'ole tube (is that even a saying?) and kicked back to enjoy the show. Aquarius was sadly off this Thursday in order for NBC to air coverage of the various political conventions (don't even get me started...) and while I didn't get my weekly David Duchovny fix, it did give me time to check out two new shows: Guilt, Freeform's latest dishy mystery, and the newest addition to every Netflix junkies binge list Stranger Things. Lastly, in a #THROWBACK to end all throwbacks, I found myself watching an episode of Degrassi for the first time since high school--how could I say no to a longly anticipated reunion with some of my generations characters? Thanks a lot, Netflix. I'm weak, I tell you! Weak!


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong by A.J. Low | Rating: ★★★★☆

As a note, a printed galley of this novel was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.  

Now that one of my best friends' daughter is at an age where she is beginning to develop her own interests in entertainment, I was more than ready to pick out some children's books for her to enjoy with the help of her mother. She is not quite at the age where she can read on her own, but she is certainly a curious mind--and when I was sent a galley of Sherlock Sam's first two novels, I was thrilled to give it a go and pass it on to my friend. The first thing you should know is that it is an incredibly warm and mysterious take on Sherlock--it's not quite a retelling, instead it embraces qualities of the iconic character's crime solving skills and adapts them sweetly for a younger audience. The Missing Heirloom in Katong is fresh and sweet and will leave children feeling satisfied that they walked right into solving the mystery with our lead character.

The most important part about Sherlock Sam is that it doesn't treat its audience like it is oblivious nor does it indicate the mystery is for children. Parents will fall in love with the overall sweetness and diversity of it and, in fact, learn a thing or two themselves. Sherlock Sam is diverse and beautifully told, simple and to the point in a way that will leave kids giggling. It's smart enough for adults to not go mad while reading it and it's silly enough to keep anyone on their toes. Who can resist a food-obsessed boy and his pet robot (yes, Watson is a robot!) solving the greatest mystery of his day--a missing cook book!


Announcement | Booked J, a Lifestyle Blog?

 T H E  E N D  OAE R A?

I'm trying something incredibly new for this blog. In an effort to save time for my life outside of the internet, I've decided to mash-up my other blogs with this one. Why? Because I have so much more to say about more than just literature but not enough time to operate more than one blog. Have no fear! Just because I am making my blog more of a lifestyle oriented page, doesn't mean that my book reviews are going anywhere. They will still be the main focus of this blog and I promise you, I won't be phasing them out any time soon. Or, you know, ever. In the meantime, I will be reworking the way I run things and will more than likely post roundups of music, musicals, television, film, beauty products, fashion, politics, people I've been admiring as of late (celebrities, other bloggers or companies) and more of my thoughts on such. I may even dive into posting about fan fiction and Wattpad stories I've read recently.

(Including my own blurbs of my writing.
Assuming I write anything I fancy posting, that is.)

I will say that once my computer is fixed, I had a minor situation with coffee and my keyboard a month back (no biggie!), there will be a revamp over here--I will not be changing the blog name or my URL, so I will squash any confusion for you guys now, unless I decide to take the plunge and repurchase a domain name, but I will be posting more than just book talk. Essentially, I hope to make my page more versatile and flexible to what I want to get off my chest. If you are not interested in reading articles on certain things, my thoughts and other interests, I will leave up a link, in the upcoming new navigation, to the tag that will direct you to only book reviews and/or posts.

In fact, I will be redoing my tagging system entirely in the coming months so you can click a simple link and be directed to the posts/topic of your choice. Think of it as a little change in format--not quite fully fledged lifestyle blogging, not an online magazine, but something in between. I expect to start working on this in the coming days, when I can between work and other things, and will more than likely start with television or beauty products before slowly working in other things as well.

I look forward to hearing more from you guys and am truly excited to start this new chapter of BOOKED J. After nearly a decade of working under this name, I am thrilled to expand my page and see where it takes me now. Comments are back up and running, so feel free to curse me out or just say hi.
First Comes Love by Emily Giffin | Rating: ★★★☆☆

But there is one constant, one thing you can always count on: that not only does love come first, but at the end, it is the only thing that remains. As a note, a printed galley of this novel was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way. 

Emily Giffin is known for her heart wrenching and sweet novels, in fact, I daresay she has been iconic in "chick-lit". I must also admit that this kind of bugs me, because there's just something nice about her novels and it goes beyond fluffy, feel good. Does she write novels that are aimed at so-called girly readers? Yes. Is that a bad thing? No. The thing about Giffin and her writing is that she is often dismissed from discussions for this. But the fact of the matter is she sells books for a reason--she is great. First Comes Love is a definite nod to this and builds onto her already strong knack for weaving us heart warming stories with an excellently sweet prose, and strong/feminine characters.

In other words, it's the perfect addition to your summer reading list, even now as the season is winding down. In fact, it is great for all times of the year and while it is not my favorite novel from her, it is still wonderfully pleasing and fans will be grappling for a copy of their own. I was so surprised, delighted, to have received a review copy I nearly tripped over myself on the way home from work just to read it. First Comes Love is a solid addition to her catalog that fans will adore until its very last page. 


Addicted for Now by Krista & Becca Ritchie | Rating: ★★★★★

I need you to know that I’m not going anywhere. I’ll always be here when you come home. There will always be an us.

Obligatory start to my review: if you are one of the many who have yet to read any of the novels by sister-duo Krista & Becca Ritchie, get up off your bum and do so, you know, now. I understand your hesitation in reading into a new adult series, given the genres very long standing shaky plots and characters. The thing about the Addicted series is it takes the stereotypes of the genre and throws them out the window. Unlike many stories from this corner of literature, Addicted embraces its flaws and gives us full fledged character growth; plots that are relatable and not.

In other words, it's true to life and carries on with something that is often missing in romance. Addicted is highly underrated and only just getting the attention it deserves thanks to its loyal fan base. Krista & Becca Ritchie are in a league of their own and at this rate, they are bound to carve a space in literature lovers history. Addicted For Now continues us down the path of recovery for Lily Calloway and Loren Hale; bumps along the way in a realistic way, a good support system of friends for the two and one mysterious texter threatening to spill Lily's biggest secret. For our beloved couple, LiLo, the road to recovery was just the beginning--now, they have to fight their addictions and battle it out with an unknown force who threatens to destroy the progress they made while Lo was in rehab and Lily began seeing a therapist.


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie N. Holmberg | Rating: ★★☆☆☆

As a note, an e-galley of this novel was sent to me via Net Galley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

This latest release by Charlie N. Holmberg is another novel I was really, really, really  looking forward to recently. Because, hello? Charlie N. Holmberg, anyone? Do I have to even explain? Not only is the cover art a real stunner, but the plot was intriguing enough on its own. But the problem with Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet was that it felt like nothing happened a good chunk of the novel--even when something was happening. It just... felt sloppy and not at all what I was expecting.

There were a few pros to it, though, and this was the only saving grace in the novel. I was very intrigued, and horrified, by the way things went down. Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet has a sort of magical vibe to it that is unique and would translate nicely on screen, I think, and perhaps would have been better in that way. If we had to see it on screen, I feel like the world Holmberg built would have been even more whimsical and dark and intriguing.

Because, even its flaws, this is something that is very important when reading it. It will remind readers of a fairytale in its darkest, most magical and bizarre way and the prose is just stunning, in spite of its flaws. There's something chilling and different in it that may just be your new obsession. Holmberg tells us a story that is iffy at best and it's a conflict with the otherwise rich talent in its tone.


Blest by Blaise Lucey | Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2.5)

As a note, an e-galley of this novel was sent to me via Net Galley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

There's something utterly intriguing about the premise of Blaise Lucey's novel Blest. I was at first drawn into the promise of something of a unique plot. I do think that fans of Cassandra Clare will enjoy this world--the promise of a truce between Angels and Demons, the entire vibe of the plot is incredibly entertaining. There's romance and action and the tone is haunting and suspenseful at times.

But something about actually reading it fell flat to me. Which is weird because Lucey's writing is great, the characters and the ideas are all intriguing. Yet, it didn't keep my attention long. At. All. I've picked at this book for the longest time--at home, on breaks at work, etc etc. No matter what I did, I just couldn't get into it entirely and found myself not even remotely invested in what happened. I am not sure I would have finished it if it was any longer than what it was.

Blest had a lot of great groundwork and the trope of forbidden love. A lot of other tropes, too, including the rise/fall of consequences and irrationality. In so many ways, it had the makings of the perfect novel. See, it had a lot of promise to it but I just can't remember half of what was said/done and it is just not my cup of tea. I do think that Blaise Lucey is onto something, though, and think that while it may not be something I'd read again, it will find a very strong fanbase in it.


Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz | Rating:  ★★★★★

"Words were different when they lived inside of you."

Rightfully hailed as one of the best LGBTQ based pieces of young adult fiction, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe reminds us what it is like to fall in love for the very first time and all the emotions floating in the teenage heart. And, yes, discover the so-called secrets of the universe as you grow up.

Benjamin has such a beautiful prose that if you don't walk away feeling something, I have no idea what to say to you? It's powerful. It's raw and heartfelt and angry and everything all at once. His voice is exactly what makes YA literature so important. He is everything a writer could aspire to be.

Aristotle and Dante has one of the best portrayals of family life I have ever seen. It isn't always perfect and that's what makes the story flow so well, paired with a strong dynamic between Aristotle and Dante, and the setting. There's a deep sense of anger, secrecy and disappointment, but there's also a whole lot of love between everyone. This is a family. This is the downside to it. This is the warmth to it. It's just... perfectly imperfect and ties into everything so beautifully.


Risuko by David Kudler | Rating: ★★★★★

As a note, an e-galley of this novel was sent to me via Net Galley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

I have to start my review with a little disclaimer--this won't be up on the blog for a few weeks. Mainly for two reasons: one, I'm a dumb-ass which leads us to two, I coughed up hot coffee on my laptop two weeks ago, therefore I have no laptop. I basically fried by keyboard. But, onto the main event! This review is something I've been looking forward to because I found myself enjoying this novel far more than I have the last dozen or so books I read. My review will remain spoiler free from anything that isn't in its blurb, because this is something readers must find out for themselves.

Clear your to-read shelves and piles, grab yourself a nice ice cold drink and have a night in with this one. Impossible to put down, fast paced and--well--INCREDIBLE. I liked how there were some missing details and pieces to the story--I wasn't sure how old the characters were, for example--but found this to be utterly appealing. Another thing readers should note is that there isn't any forced romantic interactions in this one, so if you're reading this thinking "ugh, young adult!" then you should, you know, shove that comment up your ass mostly. Oops. I meant to keep this clean. In my defense, I'm really hyped from the novel so.

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson | Rating: ★★★★★

“The best discoveries always happened to the people who weren't looking for them.”

For years, I was skeptical of starting this little guy. I had been put off of it for some reason or another, perhaps just being hesitant in picking up young adult contemporaries. But, I was on a "I'll read it eventually" kick for the longest time. Except, one day recently, I decided to get off my ass and finally give this novel a chance. I have to say that I'm incredibly thrilled that I did and find myself asking why I wasn't into the idea of it. Amy & Roger's Epic Detour is full of so much heart and a whole lot of soul, fluff and coping with loss. Matson pens a tale of love, loss and the road perfectly and weaves through genuine emotion without sounding cheap, generic or out of bounds.

The biggest mistake book lovers can make when picking up this nugget is by believing it will be something fluffy; a romantic subplot that comes and goes. It's not. You have no idea how much is packed into such a small story--emotions will be at a high the entire time as you watch things slowly but surely develop and... ugh, it was just an experience I loved. Morgan Matson is underrated, although beloved, and doesn't get enough credit for how much soul her characters have and how excellent her writing is.