Review: Before You by Amber Hart


young adult contemporary romance published by K-Teen on 29 July 2014
first book in the Before & After series

Some say love is deadly. Some say love is beautiful. I say it is both.

Faith Watters spent her junior year traveling the world, studying in exquisite places, before returning to Oviedo High School. From the outside her life is picture-perfect. Captain of the dance team. Popular. Happy. Too bad it’s all a lie.

It will haunt me. It will claim me. It will shatter me. And I don't care.

Eighteen-year-old Diego Alvarez hates his new life in the States, but staying in Cuba is not an option. Covered in tattoos and scars, Diego doesn't stand a chance of fitting in. Nor does he want to. His only concern is staying hidden from his past—a past, which if it were to surface, would cost him everything. Including his life.

At Oviedo High School, it seems that Faith Watters and Diego Alvarez do not belong together. But fate is as tricky as it is lovely. Freedom with no restraint is what they long for. What they get is something different entirely.

Love—it will ruin you and save you, both.



The blurb of Before You suggested a Perfect Chemistry like plot and I immediately wanted to read it. However, Before You turned out to be a typical, predictable contemporary romance with steamy bits that kept me mildly entertained. It delivered on the fluff part but, sadly, lacked in all the others. I went into Before You with every intention of loving it, but I was sorely disappointed.

Faith Watters wears a good girl mask. A mask put in place to save his father's reputation as a pastor which she thinks will be ruined if she lets her be herself. Her situation may be a bit complicated but her mindset has exaggerated it to the point of annoyance. When things start going against her, she rebels by going out to party and wearing clothes that actually show skin beyond her knees. Her father is somewhat uncomfortable, but wholly okay with the fact that it's time for Faith to own her choices. Faith thinks not, which is why all the reasons she's afraid to unmask herself got repetitive soon enough.

Diego Alvarez is trying to rebuild his life from scratch without any hope. In Cuba, he had to run away from an international drug cartel after a tragic incident and even though they think he died, he's still very much in danger of being recognized because of his tattoos branding him. So when members of the MS-13 gang try to recruit him, Diego is unsettled. He tries to blend in, live life the American way. However, when Faith catches him off guard, he throws caution the wind to try to get under her skin and make her take off her mask.

I enjoyed the way they both try to undermine each other just for the heck of it and try to slowly lose their inhibitions around each other; as it all made for a very interesting scenario. However, the story built up to a very unsatisfying end that just seemed so convenient for everyone involved. Moreover, the absurdity hasn't worn off yet and I doubt it ever will maybe because of the way it was all tied up so fast. Nevertheless, it could've been better.

Before You failed to impress me, plain and simple. Despite a fast read that I finished in a few hours and an engrossing story, I found Before You to be lacking. The unoriginal and bland writing was made worse with chock full of figurative language from absurd metaphors to silly similes. Before You is a lost potential since there's diversity in the book which is always a plus. I do look forward to reading After Us, as it's the story of Faith's and Diego's best friends, with the hope that I enjoy it more than Before You.


'Green, green, green if our envy, volatile and vain.
Blue, blue, blue is my soul, withering and chained.'
'My brain fights my heart, two organs separated by space and flesh, volleying shots back and forth, a war declared within. One will will. But somehow, I fear, as a whole I'll lose.'


Review: The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno


young adult contemporary thriller published by Harper Teen on 8 July 2014

You take it for granted. Waking up. Going to school, talking to your friends. Watching a show on television or reading a book or going out to lunch.

You take for granted going to sleep at night, getting up the next day, and remembering everything that happened to you before you closed your eyes.

You live and you remember.

Me, I live and I forget.

But now—now I am remembering.

For all of her seventeen years, Molly feels like she's missed bits and pieces of her life. Now, she's figuring out why. Now, she's remembering her own secrets. And in doing so, Molly uncovers the separate life she seems to have led…and the love that she can't let go.



I came across The Half Life of Molly Pierce last year and since then, it's been my most anticipated book of 2014. Books about mental disorders intrigue me like nothing else does and since the cover promised a hypnotic, moving story, the slowly unraveling mystery in the chapters, fully delivered. Bizarre to the point of being inexplicable, The Half Life of Molly Pierce is a beautiful, beautiful debut that must not be missed out on.

The opening chapters set up a very strange atmosphere and from the get-go, I was pulled into the fragmented life of Molly. Having been in a constant state of depression of one sort or another, it's not easy for Molly to have a firm grasp on her life. Still, she tries. She tries to pretend that everything is normal despite waking up in strange places at stranger times. But when her mind begins to unravel after a puzzling incident, Alex won't say much and her friends don't pressure her into anything more than she doesn't want to do or say and her siblings just look at her strangely and her parents just let her be, Molly is unsure if she wants it to.

Molly is a complex character and it's not her mental disorder alone that makes her so. Her personality and her stream of consciousness are so engrossing and intricate that when it was all over, I wanted more. Her struggle is so concrete and she is so authentic and helpless. I felt deeply connected to her because, after everything is said and done, her humanness spoke to me through the pages.

Molly might not understand what's happening to her but having the support of her best friends, Luka and Erie, steadies her and for that alone, I could've hugged Katrina Leno. She created a friendship so real with lighter moments full of love and sarcasm and laughter and moments where everything is understood in a glance.

The secondary characters are so well done and their complexity is so enthralling that I wanted to be in everyone's mind. Every flaw of every character is plain to see and refreshing to read about. In this book, no one is perfect, just real. Clancy is such a clammed up but blunt character that I just didn't know what to make of him and Hazel's sharpness is so awe-inspiring. Lyle and Sayer are outstanding characters who make everything even more complex for Molly and Alex is so admirable.

The combination of stream of consciousness and laugh out loud moments work together to create an atmosphere that I won't be forgetting anytime soon. I finished The Half Life of Molly Pierce in less than a day because I wanted to go deep into the story and surface only when I was left staring at the last page in wonder. The Half Life of Molly Pierce is visceral, original, and breathtakingly beautiful page-turner of a book that I entirely fell in love with.


'And people without muscle can't stand. They can only sink into the pavement. They can only collapse and lie helpless on the grass.'
'The people we love get under our skin and crawl through our veins and fine their way into our heart. They choke up our blood flow and mess up our breathing and tangle themselves through our bodies like wire. Like razors, like fire.
We remember them even when we don't remember them.
We try and forget, but it's pointless.
Even amnesia. Even comas and brain damage and traumatic shock.
Whatever makes us not remember, we still remember.
Our minds flounder like fish but our bodies...
Our bodies remember.'


Monthly Recap: June

Personally, June was one of the hardest months ever in my life. I'm grateful that the bad days are over.


DIY Project
So I started repainting a work desk just so I can have a proper workspace and not just lounge around on my bed with my laptop all day. I applied the glossy paint and although it looks good, I don't like the texture all that much. Now I've got to go out and buy the matte one to coat once and then do the stencil pattern I've chosen which is taking time because I'm lazy and gah. However, the desk if off white and looks really good which means I'll finish it soon-ish.

I don't know what happened but suddenly so many fun book photo tags started popping up around Instagram. I did a few of them and introduced my #bookcoverpalatte tag only yesterday. It became very popular and I'm so happy because so many perspectives on book cover palettess! If you want to keep track of book tag challenges, Sasha is introducing a #booktagchallenge soon (probably tomorrow) and Mahima takes such pretty photos of all the tags.


I watched TV pretty sporadically but I'm caught up on most of them so that's good.

Faking It was o-kay and predictable.
Awkward is still stupid but it makes me laugh, so there.
I love the direction Suits took this season. Mike and Harvey at odds? More, please.
I'm slowly catching up on Orphan Black and it just gets better and better.


Anastasia (7/10) - Once Upon a December gave me chills and I loved it and Cee made me watch so thanks, Cee.
Final Destination 3 (5/10) - Man, I've outgrown these movies. It was really bad but then not-so-bad, y'know?
21 & Over (5/10) - Mehh. Also, can I punch Jeff Chang because stupid?
Elysium (4/10) - This movie just didn't work for me and I think it needs to be edited a few more times.
Aurangzeb (1/10) - Stupid Bollywood movie, ew.
Thor (7/10) - Marvel does it again!
Thor: The Dark World (8/10) - So much better and I loved the thing that happened with Loki at the end.


I'm back on track for my 2014 Series Challenge as I've completed out five of the seven I'm hoping to finish. Other than that, it was a good reading month.

The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings
Wicked Games by Sean Olin
Just One Night by Gayle Forman
(Don't You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
The Too-Clever Fox by Leigh Bardugo
Little Knife by Leigh Bardugo


I'm finally starting to be okay with my erratic blogging pattern. Heh.

I posted a top ten Tuesday lists of best books of 2014 (so far) and artsy YA covers.
I posted my review of Wicked Games by Sean Olin.
I posted my review of Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo.
I posted about my summer reading project, (93) days of summer.
I posted my review of Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo.


I only bought one book because I really, really wanted to and I was not disappointed.

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo


So my music taste is a-changing.

Never Be by 5 Seconds of Summer is my summer jam.
Sandra is teaching me good music and it's going well because I haven't really listened to All Time Low and didn't know Bring Me the Horizon existed before.

How was your June?


Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo


Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
young adult fantasy published by Henry Holt and Co. on 4 June 2013
second book in The Grisha trilogy

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling's game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.



Sequels are hard because one comes to expect so much from a story that there's a huge need for it to be better. In other words, it can make or break a trilogy. Siege and Storm belongs in the former category; it started with a bang and ended with a boom much like a storm. It gathered the undercurrent present throughout the story and threw it in the air by the end of the book. Everything is much more magnificent from the plot to the setting and that is what Siege and Storm brings to the trilogy.

As Alina comes to terms with living on the run, she cannot bring herself to shake off the feeling that she's doing it all wrong. But that's not the only thing she has to come to terms with. It is still hard for her to see herself as a Grisha, after the ordinariness of being a peasant and an orphan, much less a saint. Yet she does want it all; the power, the glory and the price of it all which makes her all the more interesting. Then there's the terrible turn her relationship with Mal is taking.

Mal is conflicted; losing a sense of purpose in life and being thrusted headfirst into petty jealousy has made him lost all sense. Or most of it. Being in love with the Sun Summoner is never going to be easygoing and that is simply what he needs to understand. However, considering the circumstances, I think they coped as well as they could. Mal became an admirable Grisha fighter and they fell in a rut which, ultimately, could be good for them. But I'm still rooting for the Darkling.

Oh, the Darkling. There never could be a more splendid character. He gets darker in Siege and Storm and the rare glimpses of his humanity are oh-so-fine. When there's the Darkling, there's viciousness and what viciousness it is! His complications have complications, his arrogance has arrogance and 'like calls to like' and I'm a goner. His powers are opposite to that of Alina's and while, Alina struggles with her stature in Ravka, the Darkling thrives in his notoriousness.

Then there's Sturmhond. He wears sarcasm and wit and eyerolls like a second skin and I'm a goner forever because dude is much more than just a privateer. Sturmhond has earned his name, his job as a privateer and he just doesn't stand there to look pretty (though, he totally could and has). It doesn't hurt that his real name is one of my favorites ever and that his real identity just about popped my eyes out of their sockets. Basically, I just ship him with everyone and his ships.

Siege and Storm is a spectacular continuation of the Grisha trilogy because a magnificent white ice dragon, more beautiful keftas, the terrible nichevo'ya, a breathtaking volcra attack in the middle of the night, the state in which the Darkling leaves Baghra and Genya, and so much more. The pacing of Siege and Storm is just about right and I love that it is much more adventurous than its predecessor. There's never a dull moment in Siege and Storm which means Ruin and Rising will be that much more impressive. I hope.


'The ox feels the yoke, but does the bird feel the weight of its wings?'
'I've seen what you truly are,' said the Darkling, 'and I've never turned away. I never will. Can he say the same?'
'Don't argue. Never deign to deny. Meet insults with laughter.'


Top Ten Tuesday: Artsy YA Covers

Covers are the most fun part (apart from the story) of books and I love it when designers get that. Recently, there has been a surge in artsy covers in YA and if every cover was as artsy as these, I'd happily buy all of the books (as if I don't already). (Still pretty books equals a happy little reader).

Of Maps and Ampersands

What is it about maps and ampersands that get my attention? In a few words: wanderlust and the best looking logogram ever. 'Nuff said.
Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid // Don't Stop Now by Julie Halpern
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell // Althea & Oliver by Cristina Moracho // Vaclav & Lena by Haley Tanner

These Tapes and Cityscapes

Tapes are the best looking recording media to have ever been created by man and they look super good on book covers. When it comes to cityscapes, I think there are so many ways to play with them and still get a classy look. Am I right or am I right?

Tape by Steven Camden // Supergirl Mixtapes by Meagan Brothers // Way to Go by Tom Ryan
Starry Night by Isabel Gillies // A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E.Schwab