Recent Reads Review

Reading slumps suck. So far, since the year has started, I’ve only read three books—one of those I even half-assed and just practically skimmed through.

If you’re looking for more books to read, don’t look here. I’m actually just here to share what I think of these books and, hopefully, stumble upon someone who can recommend me books like the ones I’ve read. These reviews are very short and lazily written (I just copied them from my Goodreads account, actually). Really, they are just begging for more books to be with them. Oh, and tiny spoiler alert!

Eliza and Her Monsters

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Rating: 4/5 Stars

The writing, the story, and the story within the story (Monstrous Sea) were all captivating. It hooked me at once. I could relate with Eliza, with what she’s going through, though my social anxiety ain’t that bad (‘cuz I at least know how to fake knowing how to socialize and don’t let anyone else notice) but I know how it can be draining and overwhelming at times. Yes, the book opens up about social anxiety and what it’s like to have it. The writing is what really got me mesmerized because it flowed and transitioned so well. But the story of Eliza is what made me love the book so much.

What I just didn’t like was Wallace. He was so good in the first half of the book. The second half didn’t justify enough (or apologize enough) how Wallace could be so selfish as to force Eliza to finish the web comic while she’s having a mental breakdown. Like dude. Your life isn’t her responsibility so give the girl a break, please. Anyway, other than that I loved everything about the book. I wish there’s really a Monstrous Sea web comic. Is there? The on-page sketches look cool!

Geekerella

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Rating: 2/5 Stars

In between 2 and 3 stars. Maybe because I have read a book with a similar premise before this and did it much better? Reading this book felt like a chore; I had to skim through most of the characters’ thought process, and the dialogues were too sloppy and cheesy for my liking. Darien and Elle’s chemistry also felt forced, and they are being too dramatic. I also found some inconsistencies with Elle’s personality. Even the side characters seemed so stereotypical and that made them even more unrealistic. This actually reads more like a fanfic than an original YA stand-alone novel.

I usually enjoy feel-good stories with fairy tale-like themes like this one, you know, just for mindless fluffy reading. But Geekerella was just too plain. Kelly Oram’s Cinder and Ella is still the most enjoyable and believable modern Cinderella-meets-Hollywood YA novel I’ve read so far. I should probably read that again to make up for the disappointment that this book gave me. Anyway, nice try for taking on the kind of story concept that has been done over and over again. I am also aware that it’s hard to give this kind of recycled plot an original feel. Still, good try.

Burn Before Reading

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Rating: 4/5 Stars

I probably should’ve burned this book before reading because I fell a little bit in love with it! It’s the kind of book that you would want to read when you’re in need to swoon mindlessly and feel giddy all over. It was so much fun! But it also took on some serious issues, which is very commendable and genuinely well-executed. I admit though at first, I didn’t want to read it because the synopsis screams BOYS OVER FLOWERS. After having seen that a-group-of-rich-and-privileged-bad-boys-against-one-poor-but-stubborn-girl story in three live-action adaptations, I thought I’ve had enough. But Sara Wolf is an instant read to me. I’m so glad I gave this book a chance because, boy, it gave a new spin and depth to that classic plot! What an enjoyable read!

By the way, Bee reminds me so much of Isis (another character from the same author). They have the same wit, and I wonder if that reflects the author’s personality in real life, too. That’s the one thing consistent through-out her books, some more subtle than others. That’s not a bad thing; just a random observation. Hey, her female characters are funny and #relatable!

YA Stock Characters (The ones you always read and write about)

I probably have more story ideas than I could write. But as I was writing the outline of the story that I’m currently working on, I noticed a pattern to my characters. Every time I create a story (usually young-adult contemporary romance set in small town high schools), I just use certain character archetypes and play matchmaker with them in the story. I blame the YA novels I read.

I do it unconsciously, but knowing it now makes me realize how cliche my characters can be. This challenges me to break their mold and give them more depth and development. But for now, let’s just get to know each of them and…make fun of them.

So, I wrote their basic character profiles.

Meet my YA stock characters:

The Bad Boy

A.K.A The Rebel; Female Counterpart: The Bad Girl (duh!)

Brooding, mysterious, damaged, rebellious. Hides a dark, tragic past. Often wears a leather jacket and rides a motorcycle. Needs the right girl to change his rebel ways. Has a tattoo and hides a scar, literally and figuratively. Most likely orphaned to make him even more tragic. Obviously brings trouble but there has to be some redeeming qualities, right?

The Popular Jock

A.K.A The Popular Jock (there’s no other way to do it); Female Counterpart: The Popular Cheerleader

The guy every girl wants. Also a known playboy. Supposedly the epitome of a cool guy. Acts like an airhead on the outside, but keeps a sensible and thoughtful personality. Has honey-chocolate abs to die for. Most likely the town’s golden boy quarterback. Redeeming qualities: HOT. But also his secret philosophical depth hidden behind his good looks and jackass-jerk facade.

The Boy-Next-Door

A.K.A The Nice Guy; Female Counterpart: The Girl-Next-Door

Best friend-to-boyfriend material. Literally the guy that lives next door. Also known as Mr. McPerfectson. Likes basketball and music, plays the guitar, can also sing and cook, loves dogs, love babies, loves you. Gentleman with a killer smile and dimples on both cheeks. Redeeming qualities: EVERYTHING.

The Cute Nerd

A.K.A Totally-Not-A-Nerd-Just-A-Cute-Guy-Wearing-Glasses; Female Counterpart: The Cute Nerd (girl version)

Shy, quiet, awkward. Not necessarily studious but naturally smart (or not). Loves his video games, superhero comic books, and sci-fi/fantasy movies. Often wears glasses. Secretly hot and wild and everything you want him to be. Is working on a sci-fi graphic novel of his own (so he most definitely knows how to draw).

The Good Girl

A.K.A The Mary Sue; Male Counterpart: Definitely NOT The Bad Boy

Innocent, humble, simple (or plain), timid. Doesn’t know she’s pretty until the right guy tells her. Loves reading books, and probably has a book and movie review blog. Has hidden wit and sarcasm (how is she gonna write those killer reviews if she’s not witty like me). Can stand up for herself only when she’s up against her love interest and the love interest’s evil ex-girlfriend.

The Ice Princess

A.K.A Elsa, Concealed, Doesn’t Feel; Male Counterpart: The Ice Prince

Complete straight A’s, no non-sense girl. Perfect in every way except for her cold, uptight, and a little bit (by that, I mean very) naive personality. Trained in some fancy talent like piano, ballet, or painting. Uses only at least three-syllabic SAT words in a casual conversation. Facial expressions are limited to a resting bitch face. Actually has feelings.

The Tomboy

A.K.A The-Girl-You-Didn’t-Realize-Was-Beautiful-Until-A-Makeover; Male Counterpart: (I actually have no idea)

Quirky, sporty, one-of-the-boys. Hates make-up and wearing high heels or skirts. Tough as nails but still a lady at heart. Can play basketball, knows how to skateboard, and beat the boys at it. Secretly a huge fangirl of boy bands. Fashion sense is limited to over-sized T shirts, baggy jeans, sneakers, and other hand-me-downs.

The Queen Bee

A.K.A The Girl You Envy; Male Counterpart: Your Dream Guy

The girl every guy wants. Pretty, sassy, and fierce. Often mistaken as the mean girl. Always the homecoming and prom queen. Also known as the popular girl that rules high school, and your teacher’s favorite student. Probably in a relationship with The Popular Jock. Rival includes The Popular Cheerleader. Struggles to keep her royal image.

This list doesn’t represent all of the stock characters that we have in YA contemporary fiction. These are just the archetypes that I use in my own stories. So, if you think I missed someone, no worries, you can write about them. But don’t forget to try and destroy their tropes. That makes a story more interesting.

Writer’s Ink Challenge

It’s been a while since my last challenge post! I missed how they could be so much fun! There’s another one that I have to work on but I’ll get to it later today. (I’m so sorry for having such a slow blogging month!)

Before I get to the challenge though, I’d like to thank Regina for tagging me! It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside when people tag little old me in their posts even though I don’t always get to respond immediately. So, thank you so much! <3 And please visit her blog here. She’s one of the nicest people I’ve met over blogging!

The Important Rules:

Thank your nominator
Answer at least 8 questions about writing
Nominate at least 5 people

The Questions + Answers:

When did you first start writing? If it’s fiction writing, I started when I was in fourth grade. I would use the back pages of my Science notebook to write short stories (because of that, my Mom got mad at me because I was wasting the pages of my notebook). I think I still have that notebook somewhere.

Have you always been interested in writing? I have been for as long as I can remember. I believe it’s one of my strongest suits especially when in it’s in my native language, and my teachers would often push me to join writing contests though I never did. It was just a hobby for me. When I started reading in high school, that’s when I started to dream of becoming a published writer.

Why do you like writing? I express myself better through writing. I’m not really the talkative kind of person (don’t let my know-it-all blogging persona fool you) and I often fumble over my words. I like writing because it gives me a way to express myself much better.

What genre do you write in? Contemporary, Romance, little bit of Sci-fi and Fantasy, always YA. And some poetry, too! If it’s blog writing, I don’t know if “random” can be considered a genre? Because I always write random stuff. Does blogging even have genres or just categories?

Who or what motivates you to write? My ideas motivate me to write. I’m a very imaginative person. Half of the day, I’m in daydreaming land. When an idea pops, and there’s always an idea that pops, I immediately write it in my notes and work on it some time later. The problem is continuing with it. But my favorite writers are what inspires me to keep writing.

Do you write poetry? I do. I try for fun, but it’s my weakest writing skill next to journalism or news-writing. But I do enjoy it even though I really suck. My worst enemy is rhyming poem.

Have you ever written a story with a friend? Yes, it was for a school assignment. I enjoyed it so much! The story is about a girl in some kind of a mental hospital, and there was always a man that visited her there, but only she could see him. The doctors thought that she was hallucinating a lover. But the man was actually the ghost of her father. I don’t know where we got that idea.

How do you write your stories (first person, third person)? First person, most of the time. But it’s frustrating for me because when I do first person, I always end up having multiple point of views. It’s hard for me to pick whose first person POV should I let the story focus on. I tried doing third person and my writing always fell flat. I hate third person, haha!

Okay. I had so much fun doing this! I don’t know who to nominate yet and who would be interested to take up the challenge. Would it be okay if I just tag anyone who read this? We’re all writers one way or another, aren’t we? *wink-wink*

HELP ME

The reason why I’m not blogging is NOT because I’m procrastinating or feeling lazy. It’s just that I’m focusing on one task at a time. I’m working on a major (personal) project and I’ve scheduled target dates for “milestones” and deadlines. But I need your help in order for this to take off. Help me choose a title, please?

Here’s the project: A story where ghosts or the souls of dead people are the main characters, and they live in a special house that serves as an apartment for ghosts. They don’t simply roam around and haunt places, they are assigned roles and tasks and even stations (or cities where they should work) so they can cross over or be reincarnated. The story follows what they do in order to complete tasks. (I gave the plot in a very ambiguous way but that more or less explains you the concept.)

I’m not sure which genre it belongs to. It sure has supernatural elements (the ghosts themselves) but there’s no romance—so it’s not paranormal romance. The world is too small and the conflicts are too simple (it’s just everyday mundane experiences of the ghosts)—so it can’t be urban fantasy either. It’s fantasy but at the same time, it’s a simple contemporary, slice-of-life kind of tale. I don’t know. *shrugs*

Anyway, all I need is the perfect title. I have come up with three ideas and I’d like to know your opinion, your best choice.

a) Dead People Society – But it sounds so much like Dead Poets Society even though the story doesn’t even have the slightest connection.

b) The Secret World of Ghosts – My only problem here is that it sounds so unoriginal and sloppy. Not catchy at all.

c) House of Souls – But upon research, I found out that it is also a name for a restaurant somewhere in Denmark.

If you can come up with titles better than what I made, feel free to share. I’d love to hear your suggestions. As always, thank you so much!

[BOYSFALL] English Class

Even if I promise her that I’ll be the man she needs, I know I will never be good enough. I’m just a clueless boy, she is a woman. I’m just a high school kid and she is my teacher.

(Oh, the cringe! But I wrote this so I must share this. Some people just love tragic stories and forbidden romance. Even cheesy ones like this. More posts like this here, here, here, and here.)

[BOYSFALL] The Bad Guy

“Why are you doing this to me?”

You yelled in agony and frustration.

I wanted to wipe your tears

And kiss the pain away

But I didn’t.

I won’t.

Because I am no hero.

I am no lover.

To you, I am the villain.

The monster.

The bad guy.

(There’s more from where this came from. Just cheesy stuff like this. If you want to read more, links are here, here, and here. I’ll post some more later on. Cheers!)

Continue this story…

“Haunted Mansion”

There were three things that people in my town did not know about the haunted mansion up the hill. One, it was not a mansion. Although it was an enormous house, it lacked the grandiose that a real mansion would have. Inside was bare and almost empty. Sometimes I doubted if people actually lived there. Two, it was not haunted. Ghosts weren’t real. I never believed they existed. But the house had secrets more frightening than any ghosts. I would know because, three, I lived there.

Those who took the turn up the hill to the outskirts of the town would pass by the house. It was the first structure that came into view. The three-storey house had a modern yet very simple design—white walls, square windows, slanted roofs, wooden doors, and an iron gate—but what made it look impressive was its size and how it overlooked the town down the hill the way palaces overlooked their kingdoms.

We didn’t own the house. My grandmother and I only stayed there because she worked as the housekeeper of the property but it hadn’t been long. Only a few months. The owner of the house was an American-German doctor who decided to live in a small town in a tropical archipelago all of a sudden. He had been staying here for almost ten years.

The doctor was a nice man. Most people would find him handsome and charismatic despite his age—strong and sharp features, tall and lean frame, striking blue eyes and dark hair, a warm smile—but I only saw him as intimidating. He was a quiet man but he exuded confidence and intelligence in the way he sat straight and stood high. He was nothing but kind to me and my grandma but there was something about him that scared me as a 15-year-old girl.

He had rules in the house. The most important one, Never go upstairs. The third floor, specifically. I didn’t understand why. But then, there were many things I didn’t understand about the doctor and the house. Why would a lonely man buy such a faraway house too huge for himself? Why was I not allowed to go upstairs? I could only go up there when he was home and my grandmother needed my help to run errands for the doctor—and that wasn’t often. Even then we could only enter his room to clean it. The rest of the rooms were off-limits.

Most of the time, the doctor wouldn’t come home for weeks or so, leaving the house only to my grandmother, the gardener Mang Tonio, and the personal assistant of the doctor whom I never tried to talk to. Those were the times when I was the most curious about the rooms upstairs, especially the one that was always locked. Once, I asked my grandmother about it.

“Did you go upstairs again? I told you to never go up there unless we are told to,” was her answer. I couldn’t go in the rooms even if I wanted to anyway. The doctor never left the keys with us. The only other person who had access was his assistant.

At times like this when I thought I believed that the house was haunted. It was too quiet for such a wide hollow space. Every sound I made echoed. Sometimes, I would hear sounds that weren’t supposed to be there. Subtle creaking and scratching sounds of wood, soft snores and low wailing, whimpers of someone in pain, chains rattling, all coming from upstairs. There was a chilling feeling that my grandmother and I weren’t alone and that someone was watching me. All of it I kept writing off as imagination. Maybe, the talks in my town about the haunted mansion were starting to get to me. I was just scaring myself, I thought. Ghosts didn’t exist.

However, August of 1995, it all turned real—and I wished it didn’t. Curiosity got the best of me. One of the nights that the doctor was gone and everyone in the house was deep asleep, I sneaked out of bed and took the keys from the assistant’s room. I tiptoed as I followed the strange faint noise that led me to one of the rooms upstairs. The room that was always locked. I inserted the key and turned it with a click. I pushed open the door and the pungent smell greeted me first. Once I caught sight of the room, I gasped in fear and disgust. There, I found—

(What could it be that the girl found in the room? Continue the story! But here’s a rule: The “it” could be anything but a ghost or a dead body. Let your imagination run wild! Make sure that it’s shocking or scary as possible. I didn’t know what else to post for my blog today so here’s an interactive short story for you. Enjoy writing!)