Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Pop open the champagne because AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is out today!!!

An Ember in the Ashes

Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Publisher: Razorbill
Date of Publication: April 28, 2015

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Purchase from Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository


My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Infinite thanks to Faye of The Social Potato for lending me her ARC!!! I CRY.

I don’t even know how to start this review or what to say at all. I don’t know how I’ll attack this review that you’ll end up buying An Ember in the Ashes WITH NO DOUBT because you were able to feel my all-around !!!!! feelings for this book. So I’m going to do something I haven’t done for a review yet and that is… use a gif.

HAHA. Way to be anticlimactic. But, seriously. THIS. BOOK. That’s how I am while reading and after reading the book. HELLO, I re-read it immediately after finishing it. YES. So to help my brain keep in track and for your benefit as well, it’s time to whip out a list review!

Seven Reasons Why You Should Buy and Read AN EMBER IN THE ASHES and Help Me Get A Sequel (Or Else I Will Exile You to the Land of No Books)

Disclaimer: As of posting this review, AEITA is a standalone and THIS CANNOT HAPPEN. While it could stand on its own as a story, I DIGRESS. THE STORY DOES NOT END THERE. I NEED MORE MORE MORE NOW NOW NOW. So you see, if you buy the book, sales will go up and Penguin will realize their mistake of not making it a series immediately, and I’ll get my sequel and I’ll be happy. You’ll be happy too because you’d read an amazing book. WIN-WIN.

1. Fantastic world. Ancient Rome-esque setting? A civilization so focused on science and knowledge and the academe that they were colonized by a powerful, merciless, military-focused one, building an empire where these former Scholars are now slaves under the iron fist rule of the Martials? Which definitely reminded me of Rome conquering Greece (although I didn’t imagine the Scholars to be Greek-looking). Then there are fantasy elements too, of the fey kind, and while I’m not really a big fantasy reader (yet), this made me jump with glee because the cognitive dissonance that will result from someone seeing a fey IN THE FLESH, oh, fun times.

Plus, the masks!!! So in this world, the Martial Empire trains kids into soldiers in a military academy called Blackcliff. If anything else, I love reading about training and military schools and everything, maybe due to my love for reading anything boarding school. The students, after passing certain years of training, gets their own mask, that they have to wear all the time. Which meshes with their face. COME ON. Just the thought makes me want to re-read the book again.

2. Very engrossing. I couldn’t put this one down, guys. And hello, like I said, I re-read it right after. I mean, if that wasn’t enough to clue you in of the awesome bursting out of the pages of this book, I don’t even know what to tell you. Do I have to get you at gunpoint???? Because I will. (Not really, but you get what I mean.)

3. Characters. COME ON NOW. These characters, guys. Laia, a Scholar girl, started as weak. Well, she thinks she’s weak, but I honestly think she’s very strong. She’s not strong in the Katniss badass type but her love for her brother and her willingness to do anything to save him make her strong. When she puts her mind into it, she does it, with no questions. If it will save her brother, she’ll do it. She kept on feeling like she’s weak but it was obvious right from the start that she wasn’t. She reminded me so much of Sol in Elizabeth Fama’s Plus One, whose love for her family is unparalleled.

We have Elias, the finest student yet the one who wants to escape it all. Elias has a fantastic background story and peeling all of his layers and his history made for such good reading. Elias has a lot of personal conflicts and I just mightily enjoyed his story arcs. He doesn’t want to be bad but how do you escape it when you’ll die if you don’t kill? How will he save his soul when the price of it is death? Elias and his principles, hold me.

But really, what sealed the deal for these characters to me is their growth. And as for the other characters, I love how Sabaa Tahir has written characters that are not entirely bad or good. Everyone is a shade of gray and I personally lived for the moments when the bad guys glowed with their humanity and those supposed to be on the side of good were despicable in their atrocity. WOW.

4. Fate. A common theme in AEITA is fate, where our characters are told of their future or what people expect for them in the future. And while at first they succumbed to it, I love how they became proactive in changing their supposed fates and acting on their own and for themselves.

5. Romance. I am suffering from the Chronic Underdog Syndrome but in here, I DON’T KNOW WHO TO SHIP. Which is the most glorious thing a love square can ever do. Laia likes Keenan, her handler, but Elias is the one who’s around. Elias sees Helene, his best friend, as a girl, but he doesn’t love her. Which is a problem because Helene is in love with Elias. IT’S SO HARD BECAUSE I LIKE KEENAN BUT I LIKE ELIAS TOO, OKAY? And Elias x Laia? SO HOT. But then, Keenan x Laia is hot too. WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?

6. Action. Or more like violence and killing and battle and missions and CONSPIRACIES and EVERYTHING THRILLING. YES YES YES.

7. All the possibilities! That ending makes it possible for anything to happen and I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. Obviously I cannot spoil you but all the questions I need answers to!!!!

An Ember in the Ashes is an addicting, riveting, and unputdownable heck of a read. Once you start, you would not be able to stop reading Elias and Laia’s story as they take you under the catacombs, inside the high walls of the Blackcliff Academy, and the unforgiving desert, towards freedom for Laia’s brother Darin and for Elias himself. I cannot recommend this enough!

About Sabaa Tahir

Sabaa Tahir grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.


#nowplaying Be Like You by We Were Evergreen

Review: Dating Down by Stefanie Lyons

Dating Down
Title: Dating Down
Author: Stefanie Lyons
Publisher: Flux
Date of Publication: April 8, 2015

When a good girl falls for a bad boy

She thought she loved him. She thought she could change him. She thought if she just believed in him enough, his cheating and his drugs and his lying would stop, and she’d be his and he’d be hers and they’d love each other forever.

But for Samantha Henderson, X-the boy she will not name-is trouble. He’s older, edgier, bohemian . . . and when he starts paying attention to Sam, she can’t resist him. Samantha’s family and friends try to warn her, but still she stays with him, risking her future and everything that really matters.

As moody and vivid as it is captivating, Dating Down is told in scenes and bursts of poetry that create a story filled with hurt, healing, and hope.

Purchase from Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository


My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Flux Books and NetGalley for the review copy! Having received one did not affect my views of the novel.

It’s not surprising for a poetry lover like me to seek out and love verse novels as well. Heck, I even seek out poetry-like elements in the prose novels I read because I’m all for lyrical and poetic prose. I didn’t know that Dating Down was a verse novel. In fact, I skipped on it when I saw it on Netgalley but when I saw Krystianna of Downright Dystopian give it four stars, I decided to give it a whirl and requested it. I then started reading it one night that I couldn’t sleep because it was short. So when I discovered that it’s actually a verse novel, I knew I was in for a treat. Treat me and spoil me was exactly what Dating Down did.

Dating Down is told from the perspective of Sam Henderson, a shy high school senior who paints. And the daughter of a state senatorial candidate. The book starts with Sam telling us that this is about a boy, who won’t be named, and who we’ll call only with X. Dating Down chronicles her crush on X, the hipster-boho college-aged barista on the coffee shop she frequents, and their imminent relationship. It all started out cute and sweet and sure, I was actually swooning because X is definitely smooth. But he was too smooth and too good to be true. We later learn that X is actually a drug dealer. Sam is affronted by this but she eventually comes around to it and even starts using herself.

Sam has been dealing with her mom’s death, her father’s eventual second marriage, the changes in her father and his lack of time for her, expectations, and quite possibly the one that nags her the most — not living. She feels like she’s not living life to the fullest and she sees X as her getaway to do exactly this. X changed it all.

While Sam gets lost in X’s world, she’s been ditching her friends April and Gavin, her sister duties to Melanie, her painting for her application for art school, and her father’s campaign. She becomes so engrossed in X’s world that she blows off her responsibilities and every other person in her life.

It was evident that everything will come crashing down soon enough and while everything was expected, I give props to Stefanie Lyons to keeping up the ante and making us feel for Sam. All I want too is for her to live her life but I don’t want her to do it with X. But then, I can’t even fault her for finding X the edgy and shiny thing that he is because he definitely is. For someone who’s been bottling it up, falling in love with X is the most freeing thing she has ever done. And if she’s trying so hard not to lose him, I can definitely understand.

Shit, I’m not doing this book any justice. Even though the plot’s been done before, this book triumphs in its words. This is a verse novel done right. Full of imagery and certain passages can knock you out of your breath. I can’t remember how many times I just marveled at the words and how many times I just wanted to stop reading and let the beauty wash me.

Lastly, the cover. SO ON POINT. Sam’s a painter, a Vespa is pertinent to the story, the title DATING DOWN plays a role in the novel.

I’ll live you with my favorite passage/chapter of this book, and quite possibly, the most powerful.

I am greater than a shoe size. I am more interesting than a label.
I am deeper than an opinion. I am more than a politician’s daughter.

I am smarter than a test score. I am more valuable than diamond
earrings. I am larger than a fashion trend. I am stronger than a drug.

I am a cut above
priority mail
my own masterpiece
executive platinum
finer than bone china
blue ribbon-worthy
senior level
leading lady material
I am all that and a sister-daughter-friend bag of chips… … and

I am ready to love.

About Stefanie Lyons


Remember your mom saying you weren’t old enough to wear makeup or that you had to be home by a certain time because “nothing good happens after midnight”?

Well, those are the moments I pretty much spend all my time daydreaming about. I grew up in a small town in Kansas and now I live in Chicago. However, no matter where I am, I’m perpetually cruising the Square, crushing on boys, organizing my locker, practicing my clarinet, or getting ready for prom. In my head, that is. Because my teen years were great.

My debut novel, DATING DOWN, a YA novel in verse, comes out April 2015 with Flux.

Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian
Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Publisher: Crown
Date of Publication: February 11, 2014

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Purchase from Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository


My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Of all people to have been left out in Mars to fend for himself, I am so effin’ glad it was Mark Whatney out there. Because if it were anybody else, I’m sure the tale wouldn’t be as fun as The Martian.

Mark Watney’s a mechanical engineer and a botanist, part of NASA’s Ares 3 mission to Mars. However, due to a particularly strong sandstorm and being assumed dead by his crew after his bio-stats proclaimed him dead, he’s now left on Mars with no way to go back to Earth or even contact Earth. Told in Mark’s log entries, he chronicles his plans on how to stay alive and it was glorious! I loved reading about all the science on how to convert water and all the computations on how many hours his emergency carbon dioxide filters can last, and EVERYTHING.

However, I do admit that after some time, I felt a bit bored. IS THIS NOVEL GOING TO BE JUST MARK WATNEY AND HIS DIARY LOG UNTIL THE END? Don’t get me wrong, Mark is fantastic and probably the most hilarious scientist, or even person, I ever read. His survival instinct is so high and his ideas are so out-of-the-box and bordering on crazy but it just works. He’s that kind of guy. But I didn’t think I’d like reading all about his thoughts for the whole of the novel plus, where will the other conflicts arise from?

Enter Earth. HALLELUJAH! So for those who started this out and dropped it for a while like me, just get past the first slew of Mark logs and you’ll start loving this one. So people at NASA discovers that Mark is actually alive and saving Mark Watney becomes the number one obsession of all of the Earth.

I love the different storytelling structures and all the fun characters. We have Mark’s crew going back to Earth, Venkat Kapoor the physicist and administrator, Mitch the asshole flight director, Mindy who discovered that Mark’s alive and the one in charge of the satellite imagery, Teddy, Annie the press officer, everyone had their roles to play and they played it to a hilt. The Martian was so amusing and gutbustingly hilarious all thanks to everyone, especially Mark Watney.

The Martian‘s strength is in its ability to make you so invested in Mark’s life that every single problem guts you and makes you panic. And problems are aplenty in this ship, mister. Like, seriously. So much surprises and twists that will keep you on the edge of your seat for the whole ride. I mean, I read most of the book in one sitting and I ended up losing sleep but it was all worth it. I just couldn’t stop reading until I know what’s gonna happen to Mark.

Near the end, I thought my heart was gonna leap out of my chest because ALL. THE. TENSION. AND. FEAR. I read this in my Kindle and I even covered the % done while I was reading near the end because I don’t want to know how much is left of the book. The last part of the book was so intense. The pace of the storytelling was so tight and the execution just A+.

This book is all around A+ and I highly recommend it to science buffs and even non-science fans. It’s more than just how Mark survives on Mars. It’s about how humanity is invested in people’s lives and it’s such a nice reminder especially nowadays. READ THIS ONE! (Plus, it’s gonna be a movie although I’m not particularly excited for Matt Damon as Mark Watney. I adore Matt Damon but I’m not sure he’s right for the role but we’ll see!)

Review: Hitched by Dawn Rae Miller


Title: Hitched
Author: Dawn Rae Miller
Date of Publication: April 14, 2015
Genre: contemporary NA romance

Life hasn’t been easy for twenty-three year old Ellie Jacobs since her boyfriend, Fletch, walked out of her life two years earlier. She’s stuck in a consulting job she hates, buried under crushing student loans, and still longing for Fletch despite her best efforts to leave the past behind.

Letting go is hard when everywhere she turns, there’s a reminder of Fletch – from his face on gossip magazines to everyone being obsessed with his company, GroundFloor.

So when Ellie finds herself at a mutual friend’s wedding with Fletch, she decides to grin and bear it for the sake of the bride and groom. But years of anger have piled up, and Ellie doesn’t know if she can last the weekend without going crazy or lashing out.

However, as the wedding weekend progresses, Ellie realizes anger can only take you so far, but love can take you farther.

Purchase from Amazon


My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Giselle of Xpresso Book Tours and Dawn Rae Miller for the review copy. Having received one did not affect my views of the novel.

So I read Crushed back in 2012 and in fact, it was one of the first novels I reviewed for the blog and Dawn Rae Miller one of the first authors I featured. So of course, when I serendipitously saw that there’s a companion novel set five years later the events of Crushed, I knew I had to read it. Crushed was in Fletch’s POV and this is in Ellie’s! So if you’re asking me if you can still read this one without having read Crushed, you can! It stands as its own story although people who have read Crushed might appreciate it more. Well, those who can remember the story. Because honestly? I was a bit lost too! Years have passed since I read it and I couldn’t remember much.

This was a quick read but like Crushed, I don’t think I’ll be able to remember it after some time. I liked how Fletch and Ellie ended up breaking up and that we picked up years later with them still harboring feelings for each other. So, we all know that it’s gonna be a HEA, but still, the journey there was worth it.

I’ll be honest with you, this is more like a 2.5 star read for me. I wasn’t a big fan of the writing (even more than Crushed which was a bit here and there) and the plot was IS THIS REALLY GOING TO HAPPEN? CAN IT NOT? towards the end but I don’t know, I think I have a misplaced sense of solidarity and loyalty to it and the characters since I’ve read Crushed. Besides it didn’t irk me like my other 2-star reads because I like how Ellie and Fletch had to deal with everything before getting there. Having to get a wee bit drunk to loosen up and tell each other what they think, all the angst and drama, I liked those!

Still recommending this one for contemporary NA romance fans!

About Dawn Rae Miller

Dawn is a Twitter and fashion addict whose favorite things in life are her family, gorgeous dresses, tea leaf salad, and French macarons. She splits her time between San Francisco and Northern Virginia, and is always up for a trip to Paris.

Review + Playlist: The Boyfriend Backtrack by Dawn Lanuza

The Boyfriend Backtrack
Title: The Boyfriend Backtrack
Author: Dawn Lanuza
Date of Publication: October 3, 2014

If they say that life flashes right before your eyes when you die, do you also get a flashback of your exes when your perfect boyfriend is proposing to you? At least that’s the case for Regina Cortez. There’s her dramatic high school boyfriend, her first college crush, the irresistible heart breaker, and the ever elusive one. By backtracking to her past, will Regina make it to ‘I Do’? Or will she just keep running away?

Purchase from Amazon | Smashwords

For Philippine residents, you can also order the paperback here!


My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Dawn for the review copy! Having received one did not affect my views of the novel.

So, how do I approach this review? Let’s just get the ~serious~ and ~technical~ (please stop me from using tildes) aspects of this novella before I get to the spazzing because THERE WILL BE SPAZZING.

(First, it was a bit weird to read this book at first because my best friend’s name is Regina and I started reading this while I was lounging on her bed. #random)

Plot. I like the plot, you guys. I mean, your boyfriend proposes to you and then a montage of your previous boyfriends/not-boyfriends flash before your eyes. SO ROM-COM. What a bait for me.

Style. The Boyfriend Backtrack is narrated by Regina but the present is interspersed with non-linear flashbacks showing us her previous relationships. Which is amazing! Even though sometimes I get confused by the timeline (because it was so late in the night and my brain wasn’t 100% functioning), I appreciate the nonlinearity because, memories don’t come to you chronologically. I also like how we basically have an idea on who’s a jerk and who’s creepy but we’re still waiting for Dawn Lanuza to dish out the actual story via flashbacks. So, while it’s not frustrating because the reader is not 100% in the dark, you still anticipate and crave for the story.

Voice. I love Regina’s voice and her ill-timed jokes. I can SO relate to her. Working to make a living but not loving your job. Wanting to pursue other things. Regina’s so cynical and I love that! She also runs away from her problems and avoids confrontations and I could totally relate to her in those aspects. In fact, Regina’s growth was one I really enjoyed reading about.

And now to ~THE FEELS~. (Darn it, tildes.) Guys, PERFECT ENDING FOR THE STORY. Perfect use of certain songs. Admittedly, I was pretty sure I’ll give The Boyfriend Backtrack three stars (It was good but my investment in the story wasn’t like my investment in four-star reads) until the bits near the end when Dawn wrote about perfectly scored moments in life. Because I’ve been thinking about that a lot! I always thought how it would be awesome to have background music playing in the key scenes of your life. Then, just, a certain guy Regina dated was so sweet and kind and just he hit all the right notes. I wouldn’t spoil you guys but just, GIDDY FEELS.

I highly recommend The Boyfriend Backtrack for contemporary romance fans! It’s a short read too and you’ll read it in one go. Satisfying, this novel will give you giddy feelings and sad feelings but mostly I’m-getting-red-in-the-face-from-the-sweetness feelings. Eek!


So for anyone who doesn’t know, Dawn has A+ taste in music. In fact, I stalk her blog for all the music recs she doles out. Come on, the girl introduced me to The Drowners and Bleachers and Jamie T and I could go on and on. So I thought I’d make a mini playlist for The Boyfriend Backtrack because music! Moreover, certain songs played HUGE roles in this novella (I STILL GET RED WHEN I THINK OF HERE COMES YOUR MAN) so it’s very fitting, isn’t it? I’m choosing one song per guy Regina dated and while the song will not encompass the whole relationship, key lyrics just made me think of each guy. Here goes!


Awkward by San Cisco

I thought I saw you last night
Get out of my life you’ve been stalking me for days


Hello by Martin Solveig feat. Dragonette

I could stick around and get along with you, hello.
It doesn’t really mean that I’m into you, hello.


Warning by Autre Ne Veut

And I run and tell you what I know you damage me
I would never wanna see your face again


Paralyse by Polarheart

I’ve been thrown by the wayside
Got dragged out by the riptide
Take me back to the daylight
I know now what it is to
Sink so low that you can’t move
I’ve been paralysed by you


Best Thing by We Were Evergreen

you could have been the best thing for me
About Dawn Lanuza

Dawn Lanuza has been imagining and writing love stories since she was a kid. She works for the music industry by day, and writes about meet cutes and snappy comebacks by night. She writes short stories, chick lit and young-adult fiction. She has a degree in Development Communication from the University of the Philippines.

Review: Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) by Amy Spalding

‘Tis a glorious day because Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) is out NOW!!! Guys, you HAVE to read this one! It’s pure hearty YA fun and I LOVE IT. Check out my review under the cut!

Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys)

Title: Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys)
Author: Amy Spalding
Publisher: Poppy
Date of Publication: April 7, 2015

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist meets Easy A in this hilariously realistic story of sneaking out, making out, and playing in a band.

After catching their bandmates in a compromising position, sixteen-year-old Los Angelenos Riley and Reid become painfully aware of the romance missing from their own lives. And so a pact is formed: they’ll both try to make something happen with their respective crushes and document the experiences in a shared notebook.

While Reid struggles with the moral dilemma of adopting a dog to win over someone’s heart, Riley tries to make progress with Ted Callahan, who she’s been obsessed with forever-His floppy hair! His undeniable intelligence! But suddenly cute guys are popping up everywhere. How did she never notice them before?! With their love lives going from 0 to 60 in the blink of an eye, Riley and Reid realize the results of their pact may be more than they bargained for.

Purchase from Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository


My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Poppy and NetGalley for the review copy! Having received one did not affect my thoughts about the novel.

I’m telling you right this moment that this review’s going to be long because I NEED TO SPAZZ AND RAVE AND SHARE ALL MY DOLPHIN SQUEALS WITH YOU GUYS. *tries to chill out* *utterly fails* (Disclaimer: I won’t even try to be coherent, guys. It’s just not possible with all the awkwardly cute and cutely awkward interactions EEEKKK, COME ON. See?)

When juniors Riley and Reid caught their bandmates Lucy and Nathan being LucyandNathan and in a compromising situation/position, they resolved to fix this glaring absence of romance in their lives by documenting their quest for ~love~ in the Passenger Manifest. (LOST REFERENCE YOU GUYS, I CRY)

The novel alternates between Riley’s POV and the Passenger Manifest, from which we get Reid’s side of the project. Prior to all the hullabaloo that is LucyandNathan, Riley has had a crush on Ted Callahan. And he becomes her project. MAKE TED CALLAHAN NOTICE ME. She thinks Ted Callahan is so cool and she wants to touch his hair. When in reality, Ted’s actually timid and awkward and uncool, per Reid’s testimony. WHICH WOW, I TOTALLY GET IT. I mean, when you have a crush, you think he/she is the sun, the moon, and the stars rolled into one. He/She spouts rainbows and is the most precious ever. Because YOU LIKE HIM/HER. When in reality, he/she isn’t all that perfect. Oh gods, I was having so much fun. Riley’s proactive on this quest as she starts by asking Ted if he needs a ride after school, which apparently, he does! Here starts ALL the awkward flirting and MY GOD, I LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT.

Bonus nutella cookies to this book because Riley IS such a teen (and every character). While some reviewers thought it was too juvenile, I digress. By all standards, Riley’s cool, she’s in a band after all. But when faced with The Crush? She ends up babbling and is such a dork. AREN’T WE ALL? When faced with greatness, rambling is the natural human response. Teenspeak game spot on.

So it’s all about Ted, right? But why is chemistry partner science nerd Garrick Bell so good at making out? And Milo just gets her and music and is just so chill. HERE IS WHERE THIS BOOK IS SO GLORIOUS. Aren’t you tired of books with multiple possible love interests but some of the love interests are so obviously wrong? Like, ooohh, let’s write this one off as a jerk. Why would the hero/heroine choose that person? But in here, Riley ends up dating three guys and she likes all of them. What’s a girl got to do?

Here are my tweets to Amy Spalding showing how much I appreciate EVERY SINGLE BOY to be a viable love interest. HOW IS A GIRL SUPPOSED TO CHOOSE?

And yes, my high school crush was two years my senior, plays the guitar, writes for the school paper, and is a science nerd (well, all of us in the school are science nerds). Basically, he’s Ted, Milo, and Garrick rolled into one. And his name is Garrick and his initials is also GB. Because obviously, Amy Spalding wrote this book for me. MWAHAHA

I loved every single interaction Riley had with these boys but OF COURSE, Ted Callahan takes the cake (and my heart). Because, #TeamAwkwardBoysWhoTrySuperHard! Just see my conversation with Amy below.

I was squealing so hard at home my mom actually checked up on me and she saw me rolling on my bed with my Kindle grinning like a fool. TED CALLAHAN IS SO CUTE AND ADORKABLE I WANNA TAKE HIM HOME. We always read about the smooth guys in YA but what about the awkward boys? The dorks? The nerds? They deserve love too and kissing and the likes! You know how much I love contemporary romances with nerds, right? No? Oh goodness, Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil is A+. If you love nerds in YA, you’ll swoon hard for Ted and his non-asking-outs, timidness and awkwardness. SO CUTE.

I don’t think I’ve had as much fun reading contemporary YA for some time now (with a female MC, especially). So Kissing Ted Callahan was just the perfect read for me because it is PURE YA fun! It was a light and breezy read and I finished it so fast I ended up re-reading my favorite parts right away. But don’t think just because it’s fun, it’s shallow. No, not sorry to inform you, but this still tackled sex (yes!), kissing (lots of kissing!), friendship (drama!), and a whole lot more! I absolutely worship Amy Spalding with how she wrote about sex and seeing multiple people in here. It’s casual and NEVER preachy, but being a teen, Riley still thinks it’s a semi-kind-of-a-big-deal. She worries about seeing other guys but then, nothing is happening with Ted yet so she can explore her choices! She’s also very forward like I said and I like how this depicts how it’s totally fine for the girl to initiate and think about ~sexy things~.

We also have such fun and dynamic characters. Reid, who probably has irrational anxiety, Riley’s parents the United Front (god, I love Riley’s voice), Riley’s sister Ashley, EVERYONE. I haven’t talked much about Reid but he adds so much color to the book! He’s super paranoid and he goes to extra lengths to get the girl he likes. He’s definitely a one-of-a-kind character but really, he won me over when he named it the Passenger Manifest. (LOST REFERENCE, I CRY)

In fact, I like how this novel showed that people aren’t stereotypes. Sure, some people just fall into stereotypes but a lot of times, everyone has a secret geekiness. This book reveled in everybody’s weirdness and I love that. Everyone’s a geek and a weirdo in some way or another. Just, look at Riley. She’s a drummer and she’s a Rock Star but she isn’t a rebel, she loves her parents, and she totally freaks out (internally, that is) all the time, especially with Ted. We have Lucy, Riley’s best friend, who wears dresses and flats, but is also a Rock Star. Who knew that Garrick Bell the science nerd kisses so well?

Snorting from laughter, squealing, and swooning guaranteed, Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) is a fantastic read with a very authentic, fun, and hilarious teen voice. I highly recommend this one because y’all need to meet Riley Crowe-Ellerman and Ted Callahan! #TeamAwkwardBoysWhoTrySuperHard forever!

About Amy Spalding

Amy Spalding grew up in St. Louis, but now lives in the better weather of Los Angeles. She received a B.A. in Advertising & Marketing Communications from Webster University, and currently works as the Senior Manager of the Digital Media team for an independent film advertising agency. Amy studied longform improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, and can be seen performing around L.A.

Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One

Title: Ready Player One
Author: Ernest Cline
Publisher: Broadway Books
Date of Publication: June 5, 2012

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune — and remarkable power — to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved — that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt — among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life — and love — in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

Purchase from Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository


My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Thank you to my friend Mia for lending me her copy!

So upon the announcement that Steven Spielberg is going to direct the film adaptation of this book, my friend Jean tagged me on Facebook to inform me and well, spazz. I told him I haven’t read the book and he deemed this as a travesty. Enter our friend Mia who said she’ll lend me her copy as it’s her guilty pleasure read and she can’t count how many times she’s read it.

The next day, this was on my office table.

That was fast. Of course, I had to set aside everything and read it. Good thing I didn’t have anything I planned on reading because GUYS, Ready Player One consumed me. In fact, I read it twice in a row. Right after I finished it. IT’S THAT GOOD. I stayed up just so I can read this book. And here goes a list review!

Ten Reasons Why READY PLAYER ONE is Glorious and Why You Should Read It

1. Super engrossing and engaging. Like I said, I couldn’t stop reading it! I was anticipating everything that admittedly, I skimmed some pages just to know what’s gonna happen because the tension and excitement levels were so high! Of course, I went right back to where I was to read it properly. That’s why it also took me some time to finish this the first go-round because it’s so fantastic I kept on doing that.

2. Underdog story! Oh guys, you know how much I (and the whole world) love underdog stories. Wade Owen Watts is poor and his avatar is only a level 3. By all means, of all people, you’d least expect him to find the Copper Key. BUT HE DID. I was just rooting for Wade all along because he deserves it all. He’s so smart, passionate, dedicated, kind, everything! He’s the kind of guy you’ll root for and cheer on.

3. Origin story! Ready Player One read like a superhero origin story and Wade admitted himself that his father named him Wade Watts, an alliteration like most superheroes. It’s just so apt. Here we see someone who’s a nobody become the most famous gunter in history. Origin stories are the best.

4. Action-packed. But don’t get me wrong, it is not a boring origin story. It’s so action-packed and there are lots of explosions and all around shenanigans and blackmail and everything. It is so damn readable too that I just can’t stop myself from reading it!

5. Most geekgasmic storyworld EVER. Come on, A VIRTUAL REALITY? It is so geekgasmic that even though I’m not a gamer, I loved and appreciated every single moment of it. It’s also SO plausible, what, with the technology we have now. Who knows, right?

6. Adventure-filled. I mean, literally. It’s so chock full of quests and I love quests and missions!

7. Vivid. Props to Ernest Cline because I can picture every single thing he wrote. The scenes just play on your mind. I AM SO FREAKIN’ EXCITED ABOUT THE MOVIE. (Although a bit scared too!)

8. Diverse set of characters. Not only are they diverse, they’re also very dynamic and fun to read and easy to root for. Our villain is very villain-y too. Just, superhero story, right?

9. Social commentary. Oh dear, this is one of the reasons why this is so amazing. I’ve read a lot of books that were partly social commentary on the effects of our generation’s addiction to social media and everything virtual but this takes the cake.

10. Perfect ending. Just, perfect. I couldn’t ask for more and I don’t think there’s a better way to end this wonderful, fantastic tale than how Ernest Cline did it.

So those are my ten reasons! GO READ THIS BOOK IF YOU HAVEN’T YET, DAMMIT.

Have you read Ready Player One? What did you think of it? And if yes, ARE YOU AS EXCITED AS ME ABOUT THE FILM?