December 31, 2016

Last day of 2016

Oh god, I've been super neglectful of this blog and I feel so bad about it. Well, in my defense I've been traveling almost every week this month so I just don't have the time...

Poor excuse, I know.

Anyway, I'm writing this from London, where I'll be spending a week in. The best thing about this is that my brothers are here as well, so I have a week with them. Before coming here, I visited Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris with two of my friends, and traveling from city to city every day is a whole other experience

that I hope to talk about in my next post. 

I should stop procrastinating, ha.

Happy 2017!


December 6, 2016

So I kind of forgot I had a blog...

We are six days into December, can you believe it? I officially passed the three month mark of my stay in Barcelona, and I only have a couple of weeks and a month to go before I leave for good.

Not that that stresses me out or anything.

Lies--I'm completely stressed out about leaving.

Anyway,

UPDATES:

1) November ended pretty well for me. I crammed six weeks of Photonics lectures into three nights and sat for a surprisingly easy exam (not that I could answer everything--I still left Part II blank because I didn't get to study that part, but if I had, I would have aced it), went to Paris (and met up with Kristy and Marie)... 

I love November. I'll be making a post about this later.

2) I have multiple travel plans this month. First up, I think I mentioned going to Norway to visit my best friend Kat and that's happening this Friday (!!!), and then to Berlin next week to meet up with Diep. Then, after Christmas I'll be joining two Malaysian friends and we'll be hitting Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris and ending the year in London. My brothers are also coming to London on the last week of December so I'm truly excited for my end of year trip. 

Not really ready for the winter travels, but hey when will I ever get a chance like this again, right? *stocks up thermal clothes*

3) I got hooked to this TV show called Pitch. It seems like everyone and their mothers are watching this show so I caved one night and finished six episodes, and binged the last three the day after. I'm so ready for the season finale and I really, really hope it gets picked up for a second season because Pitch is so, so good. I haven't watched TV in ages so that's how good it is.

4) I have a list of ARCs I need to finish by year's end, but I don't know if that's gonna happen...why am I like this?

Until later!

November 22, 2016

ARC Review | Holiday with a Twist by Shannon Stacey

Holiday with a Twist
by Shannon Stacey
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Adult, Contemporary romance
Source: Netgalley
Release Date: November 21st, 2016
Rating: 


Synopsis: 
After a messy breakup, Leigh Holloway is ready to start her life over. Until her parents put the family home on the market and call her back for one final, memory-making Christmas. The last thing she wants to do is deprive her mom of the perfect holiday, so she'll lie her way through the visit and worry about her future in the New Year. Too bad the only bar in town is owned by a guy she seriously wronged in high school.
Leigh's best friend broke Croy Dawson's heart, and Croy knows it was Leigh's fault. They've never liked each other, but Croy isn't cruel: he'd never turn away a pretty woman in need of some family-Christmas fortification. He doesn't expect her to drink just enough candy-cane martinis to tell him her secrets—and he definitely doesn't expect to get caught up in her holiday madness.
Despite the surprising love and laughter, Croy and Leigh can't escape the truth: he can't walk away from his family obligations and she has a life and career to reboot. But anything is possible if your holiday comes with a twist…

3 stars

"Old friends reconnecting and finding love? Hell yeah, sign me up!" I said as I clicked Request on Netgalley. Bonus: It's Shannon Stacey and I know from experience that her books never fail to make me feel good. Plus, the guy on the cover is cute. 

What I Like

I really wish this was a full-length novel because I can't get enough of Croy and Leigh together, but at the same time I'm glad it's a novella because the story flowed and wrapped up so nicely (I make no sense, I know). Croy and Leigh had history and once they acknowledged the cause of their fallout and made peace with it and each other, the fun started. I love the whole we used to be the best of friends and now we're friends again but why can't I stop thinking about kissing you? concept, we need more of this in lit. 

I also appreciate that they all behaved like adults when conflict arose because that would have been a buzzkill since this book isn't that long to begin with and unnecessary drama would have ruined that.

What I Don't Like

Nothing, really? I truly enjoyed this story, and the only reason why I don't give this a solid 4 is because I don't give 4 stars to novellas on account of their lengths. But bear it mind that this is totally a high 3 star read for me.

Overall, I love that Shannon Stacey's books are always lighthearted and entertaining. Also, THERE WILL BE A NEW KOWALSKI BOOK?! I freaked the hell out when I saw the announcement page. 2017 can't come soon enough! 


November 20, 2016

ARC Review | To Love and to Cherish (The Wedding Belles #3) by Lauren Layne

To Love and to Cherish
by Lauren Layne
Series: The Wedding Belles #3
Release Date: October 18th, 2016
Publisher: Pocket Book
Source: Netgalley
Genre: Adult, Contemporary romance
Rating: 

Synopsis: Sex and the City meets The Wedding Planner in The Wedding Belles, a contemporary and witty romance series about three high-powered New York City women who can plan any wedding—but their own.
Alexis Morgan has spent the past six years devoted to turning her tiny start-up into Manhattan’s premiere wedding planning company, The Wedding Belles. Now that her business is thriving, it’s time to turn towards her much neglected personal life, and Alexis approaches her relationships like she does everything else: with a plan. Not a part of that plan is Logan Harris, the silent partner in the Belles, and the one person who’s been there for her since the very beginning. But Alexis needs someone fun, and Logan’s all business, all the time—except when a late night at the office ends with an unexpected kiss that leaves the usually cool and together Alexis reeling.
Logan has lusted after Alexis since the day he walked into the tiny Harlem apartment that used to double as her office. But the ambitious wedding planner has always been untouchable...until now. Alexis has made it clear that she’s on the dating market—and equally clear that he’s not in the running. But when Alexis finds herself in need of a date for her sister’s last minute wedding in Florida, Logan knows it’s the perfect time to show Alexis that there’s more to him than numbers and spreadsheets—and beneath the pinstripes and glasses lies a hot-blooded heartthrob. As Florida’s sultry days turn into even hotter nights, Logan’s out to convince Alexis that the fling of a lifetime could just maybe turn into forever...

4 Stars

I finished this awhile ago but only managed to sit down and write about it today since school kept getting in the way (why, school). Firstly, let me just declare my greatest love for Lauren Layne, one of the authors in my I'd read their grocery lists list, for making me fall in love with basically everything she writes. I'm not kidding--almost everything she wrote is my favourite. I'm still a bit sad that To Love and to Cherish is the final book in the Wedding Belles series because I am so not ready to part with these people yet. 

Now, where do I start? 

I've been waiting for this book ever since I caught a whiff of holding-a-torch-for-you-and-everyone-knows-it-but-YOU thing that's been going between Alexis and Logan in To Have and to Hold. My yearning for this book intensified after For Better or Worse; the little bits of build-up killed me I yelled at my phone when there is no excerpt in the ARC. 

What I Like

I'm a sucker for angsty reads and as expected, this one has it in bulk. So our poor boy Logan has it bad for Alexis, and our girl is oblivious with a capital O. Seriously, I can't believe Alexis sometimes. She's so far in the land of denial I feel so bad for Logan; unrequited feelings is a female dog. Then something happened that made Logan said screw it to waiting and started to earnestly pursue Alexis, and that's when the fun started. 

I love both Alexis and Logan. Alexis is so strong and smart; she's somebody I would totally try to befriend in real life despite being intimidated by her because I really want to emulate her motivation and drive to succeed. Logan is a charming, spectacles-wearing Brit (cliche yet so great a combination I will never get tired of) with savvy business instincts. Both of them are very inspiring and the type of people I aspire to be. They know what they want in their life and they do anything and everything to get what they want. 

I adore the flashback scene in the prologue where we are shown how Alexis and Logan met 8 years ago. I also enjoy reading their backstories: Alexis' heartbreak tale is something I cannot remember without wincing. I especially enjoy the way Alexis and Logan interact with each other; they are the couple who are not a couple. They know everything about each other's quirks and favourites, and it's painful being in the sidelines and screaming "Get married already, for god's sake!" (which is probably what the other Belles and their significant others said when they had their secret meetings) because these two are so meant to be together.

What I Don't Like

Um, the fact that there are no more books in this series? 

Overall, it's been a great journey with the Belles. I never thought I would find a girl gang I love more than the Stiletto girls, but the Belles are definitely one of the top contenders. 



November 13, 2016

Sunday Musings & The Never-ending TBR List

Hi, guys!

Oh wow, this week has been intense, mainly because of the US election result. As a non-American, I'm lowkey surprised at how affected I am by it. Most of my friends and people I follow on Twitter are Americans, so my timeline has been filled with fun (the Biden memes! THE BIDEN MEMES!) and not so fun updates (the escalating racial crimes) on what is going on in that country. 

On my part, our currency is in the toilet again since the racist orange demagogue has been elected as the next POTUS, so all the book buying needs to slow down (I buy all my ebooks in USD). Also on my part, I feel fired up about wanting to contribute something to my own country. I've always been interested in politics but sadly not Malaysian politics, and that's something I'm planning to change in the near future. How I'm planning to change it I'm not quite sure yet because if anything I realized this week how much I've been living in a social media bubble. I assume that everyone is aware of the problems in our country and in the world because everyone I follow is self-aware and woke af. I forgot that not everyone relies on social media, I forgot about people living in rural areas like my grandmother who is a staunch supporter of the government, who get their news from 8pm TV and biased mainstream media, who don't have the same privilege or access like I do. This is a part that we need to work on if we want change. 

Academic-wise, I have an oral presentation coming up in a week that is worth 50% of my grade, and a final exam worth the remaining 50% the week after. I'm freaking out because I'm still unprepared, but I'm breathing slowly and working through one lecture slide one day at a time (no choice about this, one lecture slide has 150 pages what in fresh hell).

Bookish-related, oh my god how I wish I could read! I have great books on both my Kindle and Kobo courtesy of all my friends the book pushers, but I keep finding myself rereading old books because I just can't bring myself to consume something new. This is really sad. 

Anyway, I'm going to share all the great books in my TBR that's been certified A+ by my friends:


I've always been aware that I read a lot of white/non-diverse books, and it's a thing that I'm consistently trying to change as of this year. I requested this book on Netgalley because I fell in love with its cover, and I found that it's written by an author of colour and has POC characters as well. I think Sil has finished it and loved it too. I've read the first chapter and it's quite good, and I'm looking forward to continuing this book. 


It's currently free on Amazon! Sue and Sil recommended it so of course I, a person that is useless under peer pressure, picked it up just because of that. I've read the first chapter and it's really cute. It's set in the Philippines, which is a breath of fresh air considering almost every book I read is set in America. 


This diverse book is also very much loved by my friends (I'm such a sucker for hyped books tbh). It was free on Amazon when I downloaded it, and it's still fairly cheap as well. It's written by POC authors and has characters of colour as well. Plus point: best friends to lovers trope!


Maria's one of my newest friends on Twitter, and she has just published this F/F novella in September. All of my friends who read it loved it, which just solidified my decision in buying it. I've never read F/F before, and this book sounds like a perfect one to start with. 


I was so excited when I received this as an e-ARC from Netgalley. Courtney Milan is one of my favourite Historical Romance writers, and she's started writing New Adult Romance a few years ago and it is so good! Hold Me is the second book in her Cyclone series. My friends a.k.a the Romance squad Eri, Sue, and Sil have all read it and loved it, and I'm quite excited for it as well. 


Oh my God, if there's any book that's been shoved in my face a lot of times it's this one. Everyone who's read it has been screaming, "Lisa, you HAVE to read it!". It has an enemies-to-lovers trope which is my second ultimate trope of all time, and the blurb sounds right up my alley. I've read and loved the first chapter so now I just have to find time to finish it.


Yep, I have a (bad) habit of reading the first chapters of all the books I bought. It's the continuing part that's hard because I usually put them down to do something else and forget to pick them up again, and then I buy more books and the cycle repeats. Let's hope that my reading mojo will return soon!


November 5, 2016

ARC Review | Tell Me Again by Michelle Major

Tell Me Again
by Michelle Major
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Adult, Contemporary romance
Source: Netgalley
Release date: October 18th, 2016
Rating: ★★½ - 
Goodreads | Amazon

As a teenager, Samantha Carlton used a career in modeling to break free from her painful childhood—walking away from her reckless twin sister, an alcoholic mother, and the boy she loved. Yet she never outran the guilt of abandoning her family. When the past shows up on her doorstep in the form of her late sister’s daughter, Sam opens her home and her heart to the girl she never knew existed. But it’s not so easy to face the man she left behind...
Sam had shattered Trevor Kincaid’s heart, and he’d sought comfort in her sister’s arms. But he’d pledged to shield his daughter, Grace, from the drama that followed the Carlton women. Now Grace has tracked down Sam, and Trevor is forced to deal with the one woman he wanted to forget.
History has a way of repeating itself, and the sparks between Sam and Trevor reignite an old flame. But as much as Sam wants a new future, is walking away again easier than risking her heart for a second chance at love?
2.5 - 3 stars

Second chance romance is one of my favourite tropes ever. I'm always partial to the angst and pain in books and after reading the blurb on Netgalley, requesting for this book is a no-brainer. 

What I Like

Shamelessly, I'm one of the people who judge a book by its cover. I'm more likely to purchase a book if the cover is pretty (gotta do it for the aesthetic ayyyy), and this book has one of the nicest covers in Romance, IMO. I absolutely adore the purple gradient, and the title font isn't too shabby either.

There is so much guilt surrounding Sam--mainly regarding her estranged sister who died, the whole thing about the niece she never knew she had, and the fact that her niece's father was her ex-boyfriend--this story is basically catnip for me, and since I picked this up for the pain, I can say that it was painful, so kudos on that. I also really enjoy Sam's narrative and I love her best friends, and I love seeing her bond with Grace. 

What I Don't Like

Oh man, the main reason that spoiled the whole experience for me is definitely Trevor. I don't appreciate his indecisive thinking and knee-jerk reactions every time something goes bad. I mean, I get that he's been hurt in the past by Sam leaving him, but having him back-tracking and going hot and cold on Sam when they were trying to rebuild things together just made me want to break something. I feel like every conflict in this story could be avoided had he like...chill out a little? 

 photo Q0zJ8.gif

Overall, this could have been a lot better. The story is nicely paced, though, and I really enjoyed Ms. Major's writing and will definitely be checking out her other works.

Bookstore Tour #6 - Altaïr

So I've mentioned in my previous post about being frustrated at this one bookstore because the dismal lighting turned my photos all dark and I didn't like it one bit. 

Meet Altaïr, a travel bookshop guaranteed to evoke the wanderlust in you. It's located on Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, also in the big neighbourhood that is Eixample, and it's stocked full of guides and maps and just everything travel-related. 


Dismal lighting for photography aside, I absolutely adore all the maps hanging above the shelves. One of my dreams is to have one for my bedroom but my mother's really strict about putting stuff up on the wall--mainly, nothing could stick on the wall.

This bookstore has two floors; the main floor and a basement floor where the cafe is (BEST COMBINATION OF ALL TIME). You can find guides to countries in the Americas, Europe and Africa on the main floor, while the Asian countries are all downstairs.


Right by the entrance they have this corkboard up where you can leave your particulars and what/who you're looking for on a form. I'm not that sure what it was for (I was too lazy to decipher the Catalan instruction) but I reckon it was for a penpal/travel buddy thing since that's the only logical explanation of this board being up at all?

Speaking of traveling, I really need to plan mine. So far I've booked tickets to meet up with my online bestie, Kat in Norway in December (9/10 will freeze to death there as well), and I really want to visit Paris again (so cliche, I know), and maybe go to other Scandinavian countries, like Finland. I've always wanted to go to Finland. 

But planning part of the travel is such a pain in the ass? /sighs

Until later,

November 2, 2016

Bookstore Tour #5 - Claret



Claret isn't on my list.

In fact, I didn't even know it existed until I walked past it on my way to somewhere else. Serendipity, people. Being the good bibliophile that I am, of course I took a detour and walked in to check the place out.

This bookstore is pretty big, and I love that it's well-lit; totally good for pictures. You will see in my upcoming post that I was pretty frustrated with this bookstore I went to because the whole place had incandescent lighting and all my photos turned out dark.

And it was such a cool bookstore too!


As far as bookstores go, Claret is kind of common. 
The first floor has all the fictions and non-fictions in both Catalan and Spanish. 
The second floor is the fun floor; it's filled with children's lit and YA. 

Well, filled is a big word; I winced a bit when I saw the gaps in some shelves.


I'm still a bit bummed that I don't see any Marchetta in the bookstores I've been to so far (but who's surprised? I'm not, not really) since I really want the Spanish edition of Finnikin. I see Divergent and The Hunger Games everywhere though, and Rick Riordan's books too. 

And of course, Harry Potter. I wince every time I see a huge display for The Cursed Child because what a total mess that book is. Don't buy it, save yourself.



Well, the true objective of my outing this time was to visit this guitar shop called Fanatic Guitars in Eixample. I've been missing my guitar something fierce, and I wanted to get something basic as a substitute. 

The shop gives out an exclusivity vibe to it simply because you have to ring the bell to go in. I nearly walked away when I discovered this bit; I was expecting an open shop with a lot of people like the one I've been to in Plaza Catalunya so nobody would pay attention to me a guitar newbie checking out the price tags one by one trying to find something within my budget.


It took two minutes to give myself a pep talk and press the bell, and I'm glad I did because if not then I wouldn't get to touch and try one of the finest acoustic guitars I've ever held in my two hands. 

I still dream of it and its 270 euros of a price tag. 

Until next time!