Book Review: Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian


I’ve never felt so betrayed in a book. This was the first time that I felt so many emotions that I couldn’t define in a book through its ending. May it be revelations, betrayal, or love – I’m confused. I don’t know whose side I should be, I don’t know who are the characters that I should believe in and I don’t know what is right and wrong anymore for Theodosia.

There are some glimpses of sadness at the beginning – living in your own country ruled by The Kaiserin who conquered your country for a decade and making you suffer whenever he wants? That’s insane. I started reading Ash Princess with so many expectations and it left me in pain. From the Guardian to the cruel choices that Theodosia has to make, there’s a punch on the gut – there’s a pinch of pain that will hurt you in the heart. It was hopeful and yet suffocating, it was terrifying but exciting, and it is romantic but deceitful.

With the Ash Princess, Theodosia, trying to venture out her escape plan. She never knew that after years, she will see the true color of Lady Cress. And for a decade, someone had her heart but couldn’t be with. It felt like I am reading a retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet with more twist than I expected.

I think the best asset of this novel, it doesn’t cross the line. Laura Sebastian knows how to tease her readers with few magic scenes that can look forward to the next book. There are more elements that we can be anticipated on the sequel. I would like to know what will happen next after Theodosia met the Dragonsbane household, what would happen to Theodosia and Soren. Deep inside, I really want them to be together but the factors, situations, and variables couldn’t let them be. How could a Queen trade the life of someone – could be dear to her – to the thousand Astrean? Would the magic system will be emphasized in the next book? Will there be more world building and characters?

I have a lot of answers and I’m expecting more in the next installment. I hope, I won’t be disappointed as Ash Princess is the book that gets rid of my book slump.

Ash Princess is truly a magical, and brilliant book that will betray, play and give you twist on your feelings. It gave me so many emotions that I don’t know whom to trust in this book. It was remarkable on its own that will keep you enticed. I hope Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian will stand out as it should be.



15945524I write YA books and I’m also entrusted with taking care of other people’s children. I write books about girls who are strong in all different ways, usually with a healthy dollop of magic and a few dragons.

I live in NYC with my extraordinarily fluffy dog, Neville.


Travel Experience: Taal Volcano


One of my spontaneous adventures with my sister was in Taal Volcano. I was eager to see this place and try to hike to the top of the crater. One thing that I didn’t know was the trail to the top. Taal Volcano offers magnificent and beautiful scenery with an outstanding history. Taal is now called, “An island within a lake in a volcano in a lake on an island.”



Going to Talisay, Batangas for the registration on DENR and fetching our boat, the tranquil environment soothes my well-being. I could feel my adrenaline rush inside me despite lacking of sleep.

Taal is not just the ‘Taal’ or the volcano, alone. It was called Mount Taal – The World’s Smallest Active Volcano! Who would know that I would see the terrifying danger but the same time the exotic beauty of it?!


Also, I would like to point out that even the Taal Volcano is considered 2/9 in difficulty – don’t underestimate it. The Trail is pretty difficult. The trail from the bottom to the top requires more energy and strength than regular mountains because of the sandy or the beach-like, sand texture of the trail. There are few rocks at the top but all the way from the bottom, it was sandy. It was also advised to bring your own face mask to prevent inhaling a lot of dust from the trail. Another thing to note for is: Bring more water. A lot of water. Especially summer season in the Philippines because aside from the heat of the sun while hiking, the surrounding is too hot. There are some sulfuric rocks that emitting heat from the stone itself! Taal Volcano is an active volcano for a reason.

Sulfuric Rocks emitting hot smokes.

The locals in Taal said that they could hike Taal within 25 – 45 minutes. It must be from their experience and daily living but we made it 1 hour and 30 minutes! Regardless of how hard the trail is and how hot the environment is. It wouldn’t beat the beauty and the satisfaction when we reached the top. I was so speechless and I couldn’t get hold of how nature could unfold its stunning beauty in front of my eyes.


Now, feast on the marvelous and cinematic scenery of Taal Volcano!


Would you like me to continue this travel segment on my blog? If you do, please tell me what to visit next in the Philippines! It would be fun if you can name some provinces from Luzon first as it would be more accessible!

Until again. Travel More. Wander in Wonders!

Polar Bear

Travel Experience: Mt. Hapunang Banoi

It has been a while since I get back on my book blogging mojo. I was thinking if I should post this experience of mine with Mt. Hapunang Banoi in Rodriguez, Rizal, Philippines on my book blog. The other part of my brain keeps on saying no and the other side keeps on saying yes. Guess what side wins?

Anyway, if you know me. I am that Polar Bear who loves to wander and goes to wherever my spontaneity brought me. When 2018 started, the only way I know to get rid of my stress is to go to nature – which brought me to hiking. I went to three different mountains last January, none in February due to my upcoming licensure exam in March and due to my weak health condition. After passing the board exam, I decided to continue conquering mountains. I conquered the 3rd highest mountain in the Philippines, Mt. Pulag, as a registered pharmacist.

Mossy Forest, Mt. Pulag


After all those experiences, I still yearn for some conquering of mountains. It is so unusual for a Polar Bear to have this kind of motivation. To reach the summit of the mountains in a tropical country which never ever been habited by Polar Bears like me.

Mt. Hapunang Banoi


Those trekkings turned into hiking that became mountain climbing in Mt. Hapunang Banoi. For those of you who are reading this and not familiar with the Filipino Language. “Hapunang” means Afternoon and “Banoi” is the Tagalog word for Eagle. You could call this mountain as the Afternoon Eagles or Afternoon for the Eagles. This terrain was once believed to be nested by the popular “Pambansang Ibon ng Pilipinas” or the National Bird of the Philippines which is the Eagle but during my hike up in the mountain, I never once see an Eagle. Those could have been myths but regardless of the name of the mountain, it is the hardest mountain to climb in Rizal said by our tour guide.


Mt. Hapunang Banoi


The outstanding limestone would never betray you. The stunning cinematic view of a forest will make your heart beats fast. The rock formations and the experience along the way is a memory to cherish because nature will make you appreciate them more.

Mt. Hapunang Banoi


Few things to keep in mind; Don’t forget to remember the golden rule, “Leave No Trace”, Bring 2 – 3L of water when going to a hike, Talk to your physician if you are fit to climb, Don’t forget to bring trail foods like chocolate, Love the nature and appreciate them because it will give you more than you expected and lastly, Be a responsible mountaineer.


Mt. Hapunang Banoi


Mt. Hapunang Banoi


If you are planning to visit the Philippines, I would like to suggest you try mountain climbing. It will bring you pain because of the difficulty of the trail or maybe the steep of the mountain ranges or probably the sharp rocks that you will encounter along the way but in the end, at the summit; You will not just find joy but also satisfaction in return.


Mt. Hapunang Banoi (Going down)


With my sister conquering Mt. Hapunang Banoi


This is the Royal Polar Bear bringing you closer to nature!

Polar Bear.png


Also, If you are interested to hike Mt. Hapunang Banoi. You may contact Ma. Criztalyn Arevalo at 0929-2200-964. She is our tour guide and it will help her livelihood!


Cover Reveal: Star-Crossed by Pintip Dunn

Let us know what you think of the cover for Star-Crossed by Pintip Dunn, which releases October 2, 2018!

Star-Crossed Cover Reveal

This cover reveal is brought to you by Entangled Teen.

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About Star-Crossed

Only one can survive…

Want to read more? Pre-order your copy of Star-Crossed by Pintip Dunn today!

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo


About Pintip Dunn:

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Pintip Dunn is a New York Times bestselling author of YA fiction. She graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B. in English Literature and Language. She received her J.D. at Yale Law School, where she was an editor of the YALE LAW JOURNAL. Pintip’s debut novel, FORGET TOMORROW, won the RWA RITA® for Best First Book. In addition, it is a finalist for the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire, the Japanese Sakura Medal, and the MASL Truman Award. THE DARKEST LIE was nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her other books include REMEMBER YESTERDAY, the novella BEFORE TOMORROW, and GIRL ON THE VERGE. She lives with her husband and children in Maryland. You can learn more about Pintip and her books at

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon | Entangled Publishing

Book Review: The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk + Giveaway

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The Beauty That Remains by Ashely Woodfolk

Publication: March 6th of 2018 by Delacorte Press

Length: 352 Pages

ISBN: 9780525578284

Music brought Autumn, Shay, and Logan together. Death wants to tear them apart.

Autumn always knew exactly who she was—a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things: her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan always turned to writing love songs when his love life was a little less than perfect.

But when tragedy strikes each of them, somehow music is no longer enough. Now Logan can’t stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend. Shay is a music blogger struggling to keep it together. And Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered.

Despite the odds, one band’s music will reunite them and prove that after grief, beauty thrives in the people left behind.

Thank you to Penguin Random House International for sending a review copy of The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk in exchange for an honest review and being part of the  Blog Tour. This did not affect my opinion of the book.


noun: grief
  1. deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death.

Do you remember what are your happy memories? How someone affects your life in an amazing way? Do you remember who are the people are there when you are in your deepest moments? Do you remember your first love? Do you wish to cherish the present with your siblings? Did you give flowers because of gratitude more than because of regrets? These are some of the questions that you’ll ask for yourself after reading The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk. I don’t know how I was able to finish the book because it exudes sorrow, pain, and regrets every chapter. Grief is that feeling that you don’t want to feel and yet you don’t have any choice. It is a natural phenomenon when we experience losing someone we are close with, someone we love, and someone who mold us into a better person.

It feels like I have to breathe in between chapters. It displays too many emotions. Feelings that don’t know where to hide, feelings that don’t know where to put. It is impressive how Woodfolk weaved her novel into an inspirational story that teenagers being affected by social media and how they’ve been broken from losing someone to the process of healing. From Autumn’s grief of her best friend Tavia’s death to Shay’s twin sister’s death to Logan with Bram’s death. It was a hell of a novel. How could someone write so diverse in race, perspective, relationship, orientation and put so much pain in one book? I commend Ashley Woodfolk for writing swiftly with a fast-paced story that could make her readers writhe in pain while reading the book.

Every Chapter was just so good and was just so painful that it is so hard to read. I just need to take a moment and get back to it.

What’s amazing about this book is how music help Autumn, Shay, and Logan to find each other that they didn’t know at some point they are helping each other to move on — to blend in and express their emotions through the magic of music. It was so incredible that I could relate. That when everything feels like couldn’t go the way you want to, you could just make or listen to a music and it will help. The Beauty That Remains, this magnificent, outstanding, tear-jerker debut, will help people realized that there’s more to life. May their loved one rest in peace but their life still goes on and that’s what matters: Looking forward to the future and use those emotions to wield a much better and positive life.

This promising book will ignite emotions within you. It will make you feel feels – emotions that will dwell within you. It will offer a perspective that will enlighten you at some point and refreshing opinions regarding the current issues that we are facing today. Overall, I want people to read this book. We need more diverse books like this that tells us that whatever your race is or wherever you came from – your feelings are valid.


Also, I made some minimalistic graphics for this blog tour! I hope you enjoy!





Tour Date
Wild Writing Life
These Trapped Words
A Thousand Words A Million Books
Carina’s Books
Kath Reads
Diary of an Avid Reader
Drizzle and Hurricane Books
Kevin Loh
Rimsha’s Corner
Serial Bibliophile
Wanderer in Neverland
The Bookish Word
Sumaiyya Books
Descendant of Poseidon Reads
Feed Your Head
The Royal Polar Bear Reads
Rafael Ray
Books For Tea


INT GIVEAWAY!!! Win a Signed Hardcover copy of The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk!! Mechanics: – Follow @ashwrites @prhinternational and @theroyalpolarbearreads @avidreaderdiary – Comment one beautiful memory of yours that involved diversity – Mention Three friends in this post – Put this giveaway on IG Story and tag me EDITED: @avidreaderdiary would like to add a set of bookmarks inspired by The Beauty That Remains on this Giveaway! Huge thanks to Penguin Random House International for Sponsoring The Beauty That Remains Giveaway! Head on my blog later to see my book review for the Global Blog Tour! Giveaway ends on March 19. #PRHPartner #Sponsored #book #books #read #reading #author #blogger #novel #bibliophile #reading #fantasy #blogging #book #bibliophile #adobe #lightroom #photography #instagram #bookstagram #bookblogger #goodreads #jamestrevinorepost #bookhaul #library #bookshelf #bookworm #unitedbookstagram #holidays #newyear #bookgiveaway #librarything #bookblog #blogger

A post shared by Ray (@theroyalpolarbearreads) on


15136965Ashley Woodfolk graduated from Rutgers University with a BA in English and her life-long love of books led her straight to the publishing industry. She’s a member of the CBC Diversity Committee and markets books for children and teens. In her abundance of “spare” time, she writes contemporary YA. Indie movies, beer, books, and burgers are a few of her favorite things. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and pit bull puppy, Winnie. THE BEAUTY THAT REMAINS is her debut novel.

Book Review: Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce

tempestsandslaughter_FinalTempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce

Publication: February 6th 2018 by Random House Books for Young Readers

Length: 465 pages

ISBN: 9780525578543

Arram. Varice. Ozorne. In the first book in the Numair Chronicles, three student mages are bound by fate . . . fated for trouble.

Arram Draper is a boy on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness–and for attracting danger. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “leftover prince” with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram begins to realize that one day soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.

In the Numair Chronicles, readers will be rewarded with the never-before-told story of how Numair Salmalín came to Tortall. Newcomers will discover an unforgettable fantasy adventure where a kingdom’s future rests on the shoulders of a talented young man with a knack for making vicious enemies.

Thank you to Penguin Random House International for sending a review copy of Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce in exchange for an honest review and being part of the  Blog Tour. This did not affect my opinion of the book.

Tempests and Slaughter is my first Tamora Pierce book and I was captivated! I didn’t expect that this novel would give a memorable, refreshing and wonderful reading experience. I felt that I was part of the world that she created – It feels like I’m growing as Arram Draper grew as a mage and learned the craft of magic and ways of the world.

It is kind of unique in a fantasy book that offers a strange storyline, in which, intrigues me and yet still introduces us to a more detailed of how a mage become a master of his art. This is one of the things that I liked about the book, it didn’t just give us a glimpse of how a character is so great in the beginning instead Tamora Pierce gave us the whole life of her character that we will be seeing of how a character will eventually grow up as someone that will inspire and affect others in a good way.

I’ve seen Arram Draper failed and be scared. I’ve seen how unique and lovely he was inside and out. What I liked about Arram’s character is that he is innocent while craving for greater knowledge, devoted while he tries to suffice his curiosity, and loyal while he provides comfort to his friends. Also, I would like to point out how amazing his friendship with Varice and Ozorne – they display more than friendship, it felt like I was reading a family in them.

As the years passed by, Arram becomes more unsure of what mastery he wants to take. He excels in a lot of fields and a lot of Masters from the academy wants him. This is where he also slowly discovering the aspect of love while in youth. It is quite interesting as we see a character who is awkward and reserve and yet relatable! What outstanding of Arram’s character is that he sees everyone as an equal. Fair. He doesn’t care about hierarchy – whether you are a noble, prince or princess, or a slave, gladiator in combat. He doesn’t mind befriending you. I am applauding Pierce for writing a perspective that crushes stereotyping in fiction and telling her readers that everyone deserves to live on how they want to live.

I didn’t expect that I would become fond of the Masters, specially Lindhall and Cosmas. I enjoyed their time with Arram. His encounter with the Gods ignited my curiosity about them, I wanted to know more. I am telling you this: This book doesn’t offer that action and magic if you are expecting something like that, instead, Tempests and Slaughter offers much more than that: A story of a young boy that radiate positivity. I found myself wondering and reading the book more than I expected, I was curious how Arram would do on the remaining pages. I was hooked on their world. It leaves me hanging and wanting more.

Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce may be my first book from her but I’m telling you that this surely won’t be the last! It ignited something in me, it sparks my interest in her world and magic – I wanted to dwell to their world and see how far I could go on. Tamora Pierce’s writing is so addicting that it infected me. Powerful and magnificent aren’t enough to describe this book. I can’t wait for the next book that she has to offer while I’ll be reading her previous books!


And now, here are some bookmarks inspired by Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce that I made!




8596Hey, folks! I just discovered that apparently I have given some very popular books single-star ratings–except I haven’t. How do I know I haven’t? Because I haven’t read those books at all. So before you go getting all hacked off at me for trashing your favorites, know that I’ve written GoodReads to find out what’s going on.

I return to my regularly scheduled profile:
Though I would love to join groups, I’m going to turn them all down. I just don’t have the time to take part, so please don’t be offended if I don’t join your group or accept an invitation. I’m not snooty–I’m just up to my eyeballs in work and appearances!

Also, don’t be alarmed by the number of books I’ve read. When I get bored, I go through the different lists and rediscover books I’ve read in the past. It’s a very evil way to use up time when I should be doing other things. Obviously, I’ve read a lot of books in 54 years!

I was born in South Connellsville, PA. My mother wanted to name me “Tamara” but the nurse who filled out my birth certificate misspelled it as “Tamora”. When I was 8 my family moved to California, where we lived for 6 years on both sides of the San Francisco peninsula.

I started writing stories in 6th grade. My interest in fantasy and science fiction began when I was introduced to ‘The Lord of the Rings’ by J. R. R. Tolkien and so I started to write the kind of books that I was reading. After my parents divorced, my mother took my sisters and me back to Pennsylvania in 1969. There I went to Albert Gallatin Senior High for 2 years and Uniontown Area Senior High School for my senior year.

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, I wrote the book that became The Song of the Lioness fantasy quartet. I sold some articles and 2 short stories and wrote reviews for a martial arts movie magazine. At last the first book of the quartet, Alanna: The First Adventure was published by Atheneum Books in 1983.

Tim Liebe, who became my Spouse-Creature, and I lived in New York City with assorted cats and two parakeets from 1982 – 2006. In 2006 we moved to Syracuse, New York, where we live now with assorted cats, a number of squirrels, birds, raccoons, skunks, opossums, and woodchucks visiting our very small yard. As of 2011, I have 27 novels in print, one short story collection, one comic book arc (“White Tiger: A Hero’s Compulsion”) co-written with Tim, and a short story anthology co-editing credit. There’s more to come, including a companion book to the Tortall `verse. So stay tuned!

Book Review: Ivon by Michael Aylwin

unnamedImpressive. Engrossing. Thrilling. Ivon by Michael Aylwin offers a different approach in a cinematic and yet profound sports novel. It caught me off guard with the storyline that it displays, with new characters that embedded with diverse personalities that I eventually liked throughout the novel, this book didn’t disappoint me. Two people met with two different worlds. It is not the mainstream literary novel we have been introduced with rather two characters that lead each other’s life to a more complex and yet engaging excitement throughout the book.

Dusty. A highly remarkable, competent sportsman who’ve been given the chance to travel. Ivon. Conceived child of Ricky, Dusty’s acquaintance, that has been denied by the England that have been powered through sports as a way of life. This book offers a lot of perspectives but I would like to point out the difference in a futuristic book that dwells on sports, relationship, emotions and new knowledge that stimulate’s Dusty’s curiosity. England is a more scientific way of life, it is more advanced in technology that their main focus is achieving a certain goal by using sports in producing energy. When in Wales, it has been described what we are living today. That sport is a passion, it is a fair and equal competition that gives an individual the satisfaction and luxury of playing.

When Dusty decided to take the opportunity to travel, he chose Wales. He didn’t know for a fact that watching a game would excite him as it compels and yet willingly captivate him with the overwhelming sportsmanship in Wales. The thing is – Ivon, the novel itself, scared me. The futuristic setting is so close to reality that it could become the truth. Moreover, I am quite happy with the novel, as it did not just feed me a new brilliant story but as well it gave me a unique and wonderful experience by just reading the book. It might be a little hard to get in the first few chapters but once you figured out the terminology and the exceptional writing style, you’ll enjoy the book, wholeheartedly.

Ivon is a fast-paced page-turner novel that will make you question a lot of things that could be connected with your life. It gave many perspective and lessons that I would love to carve to my mind. Despite the ways in the book by setting standards and omitting emotions, I think what truly surprising is how Michael Aylwin incorporate sports, science-fiction, morality and of course, empathy by introducing feelings as the core of the book. If you would ask me if there’s a chance that I would read this book for the second time around, I would definitely say yes. I am now on a hunt for more Michael Aylwin books.



Blog Tour

Huge thanks to Red Door Publishing for making me part of this wonderful blog tour!