Book Review #87: Mirror Mirror by Cara Delevingne & Rowan Coleman (Review Copy from Hachette Australia)

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Title: Mirror Mirror
Author: Cara Delevingne, Rowan Coleman
Pages: 368
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT
Format: Trade Paperback
Date Published: October 03, 2017
Publishing House: Hachette Australia
Goodreads Rating: 3.75
Personal Rating: 5 / 5

Friend. Lover. Victim. Betrayer. When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old friends Red, Leo, Naiomi, and Rose are like anyone their age: figuring out who they are and trying to navigate the minefield of school and relationships. Life isn’t perfect, but they’re united by their love of music and excited about what the future holds for their band.

That is until Nai dies in tragic circumstances, leaving behind only one word. ‘Sorry’.
What awful truth was she hiding? What dark secret was lurking behind her seemingly sunny persona? And how did Red, the self-styled protector of the group, fail to spot the warning signs?

While Rose turns to wild partying and Leo is shrouded by dark moods, Red sets out to uncover the truth and finds out what – or perhaps who – was responsible for Naomi’s death.

It’s a journey that will cause Red’s world to crumble, exposing the dark and dangerous truth behind the fragile surface of their existence. Nothing will ever be the same again because once a mirror is shattered, it can’t be fixed. [Goodreads]

My Personal Thoughts

Cara Delevingne surprised me with her debut novel because she covered plenty of common issues in our society today especially those involving the young people. The transition phase from being a young adult to a full-grown person is one of the most crucial stages in a person’s life. It is somewhat tricky and tempting. It is very challenging and undeniably hard to deal with. I personally experienced some of these issues that were included in the story and I also struggled a lot. The setting perfectly matches the story because it took place in a classic high school set up where different students with the different type of personalities go to. Some of them are rich, others are poor, and there are those who belong to the middle-class group. It is a school with issues, secrets, and an image to portray. Previous students have gone missing, attempted suicide, or even went psycho. I like how things were described in the story. The characters are all easy to relate to because, at some point in our lives, we all underwent the same scenarios and circumstances when we were young. Red, Rose, Leo, and Naomi are friends and band mates and they have different issues and battles in life. Red is the narrator (I just find the first-person point of view convenient) in the story and I love how this person tricked me. I actually did not see that one coming! Rose is the star; she is beautiful, famous, and everyone loves to be with her or be her. Despite all of these, she has secrets that no one else knows but Red. Leo is the typical boy next door kind of guy, and obviously, every girl is head over heels about him. He is scary because of the image that he has been putting up all along but deep inside, Leo is a kind-hearted boy who’s afraid of his own brother (who happens to be a troubled person) and the skeletons in his closet. And Naomi… everything revolved around her because she went missing and after quite some time people found her almost dead body in a river without a hint as to who did that horrible thing to her. All her friends were determined to unravel the real story behind her disappearance and figure out all the clues that are suddenly appearing every day. The twist is amazing. I did not expect that one coming! Although with the antagonist, I already predicted that one right from the start! I always have this power to guess even from the first few chapters as to who is the real villain in a story. But still, I enjoyed the experience of finding out for myself and playing detective with the gang. The story has a lot of lessons for its readers. I admire the author for coming up with a masterpiece that will show how young adults struggle with their lives because it is really damn hard when you are transitioning from being the one who’s been looking after to someone who needs to stand on his own and fight his everyday battles. There are three points that I find interesting here: 1) the story is LGBT friendly. I like how Cara executed this very well. I felt the struggle of this particular character, I cried and laughed with this person and I understood how hard it was to be in this person’s situation. I salute this character for being brave and not easily intimidated. 2) The importance of loyalty and friendship. I’ve lost plenty of so-called friends along the way. I’ve met a lot of people who showed me kindness and I must admit that I enjoyed their company so much that I even considered them to be my “friends”, but… people change. People’s priorities and likes also develop and we may admit it or not but people tend to mature and move on. Once in our lives, those people made us feel complete and happy. I still respect them but I don’t really have the energy to save a relationship wherein the other party is not willing to reconnect or compromise. So yes, I envy the characters friendship because their bond was able to withstand all the storms and hardships that came along their way. 3) The value of family. This is the most important lesson that I was able to contemplate here in the story. No matter how fucked up we are. No matter what shit we said or did. No matter how hard-headed and prideful we are, our family will always be there to love us and support us. Because at the end of the day, our family is our only rock! Just like how the saying goes, BLOOD IS THICKER THAN WATER, and I’ve personally proven this repetitively in my 29 years of existence.

Thank you so much, Hachette Australia, for sending me Cara Delevingne’s newly released debut novel in exchange for promotion and review. I love it and I highly recommend it not just to young readers but for readers of all ages who also have a number of questions in life. You are not alone.

Thank you for reading my review.

Setting: ☆☆☆/5
Characters: ☆☆☆☆☆/5
Plot: ☆☆☆☆/5
Lessons: ☆☆☆☆☆/5
Cover: ☆☆☆☆☆/5
Overall Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆/5

~JaNnA

 

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Book Review #86: Atheists Who Kneel and Pray by Tarryn Fisher

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Title: Atheists Who Kneel and Pray
Author: Tarryn Fisher
Pages: 250
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Format: Digital Copy
Date Published: July 13, 2017
Goodreads Rating: 4.35
Personal Rating: 4 / 5

“Even to your old age and grey hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have loved you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” –David Lisey

Synopsis

Yara Phillips is a wandering muse.

She dates men who need her but always moves on to something new, never staying in one place for very long.

David Lisey is in need of a muse.

A talented musician lacking lyrical inspiration. When he first sees her, he knows he’s found what he’s been looking for.

Yara believes she can give David exactly what he needs to reach his full potential:
A broken heart.

David’s religion is love.

Yara’s religion is heartache.

Neither is willing to surrender, but religion always requires sacrifice.

My Personal Thoughts

Wow! Whew! I don’t even know where and how to start drafting this book review. Everything is just so freaking awesome! Tarryn Fisher never ceases to amaze me when it comes to new adult contemporary stories with dark and twisted characters. I like the way this book was written and how the characters transformed, developed, and matured! OMG! I can’t even contemplate and construct the right words for this.

The story took place in a lot of states just like how the female main character run away from her problems depending on which situation she’s at. First, it was in America where she has been to different places already then to Europe where she was born and where she also jumped from one place to another whenever a specific problem arises. The male protagonist, on the other hand, was also always on the run to find his muse for inspiration when writing his songs. Overall, the places were relevant to the story and the characters and I love how Paris was included here. I find it so romantic.

The female character is Yara Phillips, she has a dark and fucked up personality. She is beautiful which is also the main reason why men get so obsessed with her. She does not want to commit. She hates responsibility and she loves running away and leaving people behind because she’s worried about putting her guard down and being hurt. She anticipates things and decides abruptly without taking into consideration the feelings of the other party. David Lisey is a hopeless romantic. An artist who was in constant search for the perfect muse that will give him the inspiration to write songs. I actually like his character, from a naughty and easy go lucky boy to a matured and one woman man bloke. David is a real catch and Yara does not deserve him. Sadly.

The plot, ending, and everything in between, are all beautifully written! I could not think of a better ending. I like the way that there was an alternating point of view and I find it great because I was able to look into Yara and David’s perspectives. I was able to understand the characters more and I just love how I knew how things will turn out. David is a man who loves deeply and sincerely, I admire all his willpower and determination. Yara is a major disappointment for me, I don’t actually like her character, she is selfish and reckless and she does not deserve to be happy. The ending made sense. Yara’s childhood and all those crap sorts of justified her actions. Tarryn Fisher is the queen of fucked up characters and that’s what I love about her. I need to let go of Caleb Drake and embrace David Lisey with two arms! Kudos for creating a male character which made me believe that men like my husband still exists (wink!*). There are plenty of life and love lessons that you can dig into the story and I am in deep awe with how it made me think and realise plenty of stuff.

I highly recommend this to new adult readers who are looking for a new book boyfriend to adore. This is full of dramas and shit but it’s worth your time, money, and effort. I love each and every chapter and I just couldn’t wait for Queen T’s next book!

Thank you for reading my review.

Setting: ☆☆☆☆☆/5
Characters: ☆☆☆☆/5
Plot: ☆☆☆☆/5
Lessons: ☆☆☆☆☆/5
Cover: ☆☆☆☆☆/5
Overall Rating: ☆☆☆☆/5

~JaNnA

Book Review #85: Countless by Karen Gregory (Review Copy from Bloomsbury Publishing Australia)

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Title: Countless
Author: Karen Gregory
Pages: 384
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Health
Format: Paperback
Date Published: May 04, 2017
Publishing House: Bloomsbury Publishing
Goodreads Rating: 4.08
Personal Rating: 4 / 5

“The things that matter the most can’t be counted anyway.”

Synopsis

‘Is there anything that’s concerning you?’ Felicity says. ‘College, home, boyfriends?’ Though she’s more or less smiling at this last one.

I don’t smile. Instead, I feel my face go hot. Silence stretches as wide as an ocean.
When I look up, Felicity has this expression on her face like she’s just seen, Elvis. Slowly, she leans forward and in a gentle voice I’ve never heard her use before she says, ‘Have you done a pregnancy test?’

When Hedda discovers she is pregnant, she doesn’t believe she could ever look after a baby. The numbers just don’t add up. She is young, and still in the grip of an eating disorder that controls every aspect of how she goes about her daily life. She’s even given her eating disorder a name – Nia. But as the days tick by, Hedda comes to a decision: she and Nia will call a truce, just until the baby is born. 17 weeks, 119 days, 357 meals. She can do it if she takes it one day at a time …

Heartbreaking and hopeful by turns, Karen Gregory’s debut novel is a story of love, heartache and human resilience. And how the things that matter most can’t be counted. Perfect for fans of Lisa Williamson, Non Pratt, and Sarah Crossan. [Goodreads]

My Personal Thoughts

Bulimia is a serious eating disorder that occurs chiefly in females, is characterized by compulsive overeating usually followed by self-induced vomiting or laxative or diuretic abuse, and is often accompanied by guilt and depression — called also bulimia nervosa. [Merriam-Webster Dictionary]

Anorexia Nervosa is
a serious disorder in eating behavior primarily of young women in their teens and early twenties that is characterized especially by a pathological fear of weight gain leading to faulty eating patterns, malnutrition, and usually excessive weight loss. [Merriam-Webster Dictionary]

Whew! This review is something new to me. I’ve always heard and studied about eating disorders especially in UNI and way back in my college years in the Philippines. I’ve also watched lots of movies about them considering the fact that I am so in love with the human behaviour and I’m obsessed with topics and stuff about them, most especially mental health disorders. It reflects how people’s judgment and attitude affects other people’s view of life. This a very inspiring and brave novel which discussed the sensitive issue about young girls with anorexia nervosa or bulimia, all the why’s, how’s, and what-ifs of their case and every bits and piece of how some girls fully recover and how some totally fell apart. It also showed the different struggles that a teenage mom goes through which in some way I can almost relate to. I love each and every part of this book and I will not lie. It touched my heart and soul in parts that I have always been ashamed to discuss. I felt the hardships, despair, and hidden fears that the main character went through and I’ll be frank and honest that during the first two parts of the book I’ve been so disappointed and frustrated about her character. Hedda is a 17-year-old lady with long-standing problem of anorexia. She’s been in and out of facilities and hospitals and her whole family almost lost hope about her situation. She was hopeless already that’s why I couldn’t bear the idea of finishing the novel during those times. But later on, I admired her courage and strength to overcome everything that was thorn her way. Motherhood definitely changed her perspectives in life. Yes, maybe not right away but her child, Rose, became her beacon of light and hope. I have always admired young moms like me. This isn’t being a narcissist or something but having a huge responsibility as being a MOM at a very young age is not a joke. It is something big and scary and intimidating but everything is worth it when you finally see the smile on your child’s face for the very first time. It’s as if all the non-stop shaming and judging that other people gave you did not matter anymore. I gave birth at the age of 21 and every person alive in our neighbourhood especially our relatives have been so judgemental about me stating that I won’t achieve anything in life anymore. I don’t blame them, I was always an achiever and everything fell apart when I got married at an early age. I just despise the idea that people can be so judgmental when in fact it’s them who needs to look in front of the mirror in the first place. It is water under the bridge though, because what they’ve said before does not matter anymore, those hurtful and offensive words do not define who I am today. Moving back to the story, this book is very inspiring and I highly recommend it to readers from young adult to new adult genre lovers. It is simple but the author was able to give full justification and the message that she wants to impart to her readers is clear and on point. I admire the author for coming up with a novel that will inspire young girls or even matured ones to live life the way they want it but with limitations as well. This is undeniably well-written and I love everything in between. Thank you, Bloomsbury, for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest and fair review. This, however, does not change my opinion. After I’ve read the word “countless” in the story, everything made sense. It wasn’t really about the disease per se but how a mother’s love could change every damn thing in the world. I am a proud momma of two wonderful and smart kids.

Setting: ☆☆☆☆/5
Characters: ☆☆☆☆/5
Plot: ☆☆☆/5
Lessons: ☆☆☆☆☆/5
Cover: ☆☆☆/5
Overall Rating: ☆☆☆☆/5

~JaNnA

Book Review #84 and Blog Tour: Take Three Girls by Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell, and Fiona Wood (Advance Reader Copy from PanMacmillan Australia)

Title: Take Three Girls
Author: Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell, and Fiona Wood
Pages: 423
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Date Published: September 2017
Publishing House: PanMacmillan Australia
Goodreads Rating: 4.30
Personal Rating: 4 / 5

Synopsis

Kate, a quiet boarder, making some risky choices to pursue the experimental music she loves.
Clem, shrugging off her old swim-team persona, exploring her first sexual relationship, and trying to keep her annoying twin, Iris, at arm’s length.
Ady, grappling with a chaotic family, and wondering who her real friends are; she’s not the confident A-lister she appears to be.
When St Hilda’s establishes a Year 10 Wellness Program in response to the era of cyber-bullying, the three girls are thrown together and an unlikely friendship is sparked. One thing they have in common: each is targeted by PSST, a site devoted to gossip and slander that must have a source within St Hilda’s.
Who can you trust when rumour is the new truth?

My Personal Thoughts

Well-written and empowering!

Take Three Girls is a contemporary young adult book which talked about friendship, life, and love. This is suitable for teenagers (high school to be exact) because it is very inspiring and heartwarming. I received this copy from Mac Millan Australia in exchange for an honest and fair review and I also joined its blog tour. However, this does not change my opinion about it.
The genre is actually not my cup of tea, I often find myself being irritated or bored with high school characters because their immaturity is just too annoying. But this book is an exception, it is not your typical cutie and girly novel which will make you giggle, it is also a book with sense, meaning, and purpose. I really admire the authors for bringing out stuff and issues that are delicate and controversial but needs to be imparted to the readers. For instance, social media bullying, slut & fat shaming, homophobia, and substance abuse are major dilemmas today, not just for teens but for people of all ages as well. I remembered watching Gossip Girl when I was in college because it is somewhat similar to the fact that shaming and bullying are involved. The three characters are all easy to like and relate to although there are instances that they can be annoying and lame. I am so impressed with how their friendship became the tool in order for them to nurture and inspire each other. You can see the transformation of each girl and I am so proud of them. Coming out of the closet is also an issue that is relevant today and it is well-played in the story. I also like the idea of how Canberra (where I’m currently based) was mentioned in the story a couple of times. This is a very bold and brave step for the three authors, they reached out to the readers and made them realise how simple but reckless things can impact a person’s life and decisions. Social media shaming is actually one of the contributors to teen suicide and it saddens me that the bullies themselves could be so harsh and impulsive without taking into consideration the feelings of other people. I, personally, was a victim of bullying/shaming when I was in high school of some insecure and self-centered teenage girls and I would never forget that experience for the rest of my life. I forgive them, but I will never ever forget what they did to me. Thanks to those ladies because it made me strong and determined to step up and be “better” than them. This book is one of the most inspiring ones that I’ve read in a long time and I am recommending it to all the young girls out there. Yes, read it because it will make you realise that you are a special person and what people say about you does not matter. I am giving it a four out of five stars for a fantastic message.

~Janna

Book Review #83: Mr. Bambuckle’s Remarkables by Tim Harris, Illustrated by James Hart

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Title: Mr. Bambuckle’s Remarkables
Author: Tim Harris
Illustrator: James Hart
ISBN: 9780143785859
Pages: 240
Genre: Children’s Book
Format: Paperback
Date Published: August 28, 2017
Publishing House: Penguin Kids Australia
Goodreads Rating: 4.75
Personal Rating: 4 / 5

“Sometimes the best learning happens when you teach yourself.”

Synopsis

He’s the first teacher to cook us breakfast.
Is his spark-maker beetle really that dangerous?
I heard he drank yak’s milk in Mongolia.
He’s the only person who isn’t afraid of Canteen Carol.
My mum says he used to be in the circus.

The class in room 12B has a new teacher, and nothing is ever going to be the same . . . [Goodreads]

My Personal Thoughts

Tim Harris’ Mr. Bambuckle’s Remarkables is a highly entertaining children’s book. It is jam-packed with life lessons that we, adults, often forget and neglect. I like how books for kids can become an eye-opener and refresher in order for us to contemplate our life choices and actions. This book was sent to me by Penguin Kids Australia. Yes, I do review children’s books as well because I can recommend them to my kids for them to read and enjoy. First, the illustration is really nice and catchy. I like how they all complemented with the story. Second, the main character, Mr. Bambuckle is so good in terms of bringing out the best out of his students. It is not surprising how the students of 12B became so fascinated with him. He teaches in a unique way but the lesson that he wants to impart to the kids is still clear and relevant. The ending is a cliffhanger and I was craving for more, I was a bit disappointed because it felt like I want to know the rest of the class as well and not just the first few students who were introduced. But I am not complaining, I’ll just look forward to the next book. Third, I like how it was written and executed, the simplicity of the words will be easy for young readers to comprehend. The illustrations also added colour to the book. Overall, this is highly recommended to young readers and those young at heart just like me. Kudos to the author for making me realise all the things that I have been forgetting because I was busy thinking that I’m already an adult and that I don’t need to know the basics in life anymore. I love it, each and every chapter; and each and every character including the pseudo-antagonist kid who often bullies the underdog. It was worth my time; a fast-paced story with sense and purpose.

Thank you, Penguin Random House, for sending me a copy to read and review. However, this does not change my views and opinions.

~JaNnA

 

Book Review #82: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

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“Everyone has that moment I think, the moment when something so momentous happens that it rips your very being into small pieces. And then you have to stop. For a long time, you gather your pieces. And it takes such a very long time, not to fit them back together, but to assemble them in a new way, not necessarily a better way. More, a way you can live with until you know for certain that this piece should go there, and that one there.” 

Title: Girl in Pieces
Author: Kathleen Glasgow
ISBN: 1101934719
Pages: 416
Genre: Young Adult, Mental Health, Contemporary
Format: Hardback
Date Published: August 30, 2016
Publishing House: Delacorte Press
Goodreads Rating: 4.14
Personal Rating: 5 / 5

SYNOPSIS

Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.

Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.

MY PERSONAL THOUGHTS

Oh, dear! Here I go again. Leaving reviews about controversial stories are just so frustrating and a real pain in the ass (but not in a negative way). This is the first time that I’ve read or encountered about people who do “NSSH” or non-suicidal self harming. I’ll be honest and careful because I have no idea how this thing goes. Yes, I’ve always been fascinated with the human behaviour and all the stuff that revolves around it but I am clueless about people who do the self harming thing without the intention of actually committing suicide. This story is full of emotions and it’s overflowing with life and love lessons as well. It is slow-paced and oftentimes I got bored but it was able to send me the message that it wants to convey to its readers. I love how it affected and hit me so damn hard to the point that I was able to contemplate about all my past choices in life. It is a very heartwarming and inspiring novel considering the fact that it is based on actual events that took place. I listened to the audiobook and it is well executed, I even appreciated the last words from the author herself and how she overcame all the struggles that she went through. I admire the main character, Charlie, so much; she is so fragile but brave at the same time. Being in her position is hard but she managed to make it through and get her shit together. Problematic childhood is a sensitive topic as well and it plays a crucial role into how a person will become. I love each and every part of this story because it sums up how life can be:  cruel, fucked up, but somehow it goes on. The main character’s love interests are both swoon worthy. They both have the striking male characteristic that Charlie can’t resist, but shit happens and we can’t force things if they aren’t meant to be. I am impressed with the author’s writing style, the woman knows how to reach out to her readers and she definitely nailed it. She is such an inspiration and it is a brave act to write a story based on your own experience. Hands down and a round of applause for a masterpiece that is beautifully written. The lessons are merely enough for you people to grab a copy and read this book. It taught me plenty of lessons and I am so happy that I am doing this review right now. I’ve learned a lot and it is good that “HELP” is available and accessible. Please, if you know someone or you are suffering from depression or tendency to harm yourself, you are not alone. I highly recommend this book to readers who like reading books about mental health. It is very informative and you will enjoy every chapter of it. Five amazing stars!💜

~JaNnA

Product Review #1: Teddy Wallets by TedMo Company (based in Australia)

HeLLo there! Today I will be reviewing a product. Yes, you’ve read it right, I can’t imagine that I’d be at a point where I’ll also be interested in reviewing stuff other than books and movies. A wallet is something personal and significant that we need in our everyday lives. As much as possible we want to keep it small, simple, and always within reach. I rarely buy wallets and purses but my Teddy wallet is screaming class and elegance; and I just can’t resist the temptation of finally owning one. It is made with 100% genuine leather which makes it a real score, durable and penny-worthy. The metal card storage has an easy peasy push button and it can store up to 6 debit cards or so. It also comes in different colours in which you are definitely free to choose from. The spring and summer collection will be launched shortly and the owner personally showed me the different colors which will be more suitable for the hype and fabulous you. One feauture of the Teddy wallet is the RFID. Meaning? Your cards are safe and secure, and there’s nothing to worry whenever you’re on the go anywhere in the world. You can also keep your bills neatly and in order which is very suitable for the Obsessive Compulsive me. What more can one ask for? The teddy wallets will surely match your style and everyday shenanigans. If there’s one thing that caught my interest is the warranty. TedMo company offers a 1 year factory defect warranty for your wallets which is a real catch. For just an affordable price, you are rest assured that your item wil be replaced in case it has a factory defect. I love how this wallet complements my everyday needs, it is easy to use and very handy. My favourite among all of them is the color brown with a gold card holder. Did I mention that RFID wallets nowadays will cost you sort of a huge amount of money? Oh yes, because of their feature it is rare to find a cheap one, but there’s no need to worry because Teddy wallets are affordable and flexible ($60 aud). What are you waiting for? Go ahead and grab yours now. Soon, the owner will launch his website and sell other stuff as well which are all trendy and astounding. At the moment, you can head on to their Instagram page for the details of how you can purchase one. They do ship worldwide (negotiable). I highly recommend this product because you don’t need to spend tons of money just to keep your cards and cash safe.

Thank you, TedMo company, for sending me this product in exchange for an honest and fair review. This, however, does not affect or change my views and opinions. 😊

RATING

Appearance: ☆☆☆☆☆/5

Material: ☆☆☆☆☆/5

Price: ☆☆☆☆☆/5

Convenience: ☆☆☆☆☆/5

Overall Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆/5

TedMo company’s Instagram user name is @TedMo.co 👑

~JaNnA