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

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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

Book Review #81: The Midnight Star (The Young Elites, #3) by Marie Lu

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“You cannot harden your heart to the future just because of your past.”

Title: The Midnight Star
Series: The Young Elites
Author: Marie Lu
ISBN: 0399167854
Pages: 316
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Format: Hardback
Date Published: October 11, 2016
Publishing House: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Goodreads Rating: 4.14
Personal Rating: 4/5

Synopsis

There was once a time when darkness shrouded the world, and the darkness had a queen.

Adelina Amouteru is done the suffering. She’s turned her back on those who have betrayed her and achieved the ultimate revenge: victory. Her reign as the White Wolf has been a triumphant one, but with each conquest, her cruelty only grows. The darkness within her has begun to spiral out of control, threatening to destroy all she’s gained.

When a new danger appears, Adelina’s forced to revisit old wounds, putting not only herself at risk, but every Elite. In order to preserve her empire, Adelina and her Roses must join the Daggers on a perilous quest—though this uneasy alliance may prove to be the real danger

My personal Thoughts

Whoaaaaa! This is the 3rd and final installment of author Marie Lu’s astounding second series, The Young Elites. I’ll be honest and frank; I did not expect the finale to be this awesome and legendary (in Barney Stinson tone). I actually gave the first two books (you can check out my book review of The Young Elites H E R E and The Rose Society H E R E ) a quite low rating because I was so disappointed and disgusted with the main character (Adelina) and with how things turned out; but this time Adelina surprised me a lot (and believe me when I say “a lot”). I do not own a physical copy of the second and third book, my copy of the first book is in the Philippines and because of the fact that I was not happy with it, I did not bother securing a copy of the second one. I listened to The Midnight Star’s audiobook version this time hoping that I’ll be able to finish the series and get this over with. Unexpectedly, the author finally made a statement here which left me in deep awe. The characters all transformed and developed in a positive manner and I couldn’t be any happier. I’ve been ranting about Adelina for like forever because of the way she played the victim when in fact she is a monstrous being; but this time I like how she managed to play the game and all her sacrifices are just so impressive and heroic. I was hoping that there would still be a chance for Adelina and Enzo’s (read the 1st book to find out more about who Enzo is) ship but yeah there are things that will not work out no matter what black magic one does or engages into. Moving on, Margiano is definitely my man here! I just felt sorry for him with how things ended, if there could be any other way, though. He is so understanding and sincere and was often misunderstood and I am in love with the idea that he changed for the better. Next in line is Violetta, this doll surprised me, I know I kept on repeating the word “surprise” but I can’t get over the idea that this book is so impressive and surprising!!! Violetta’s fate is a real twist for me, I did not see that one coming and it’s perfect. The writing style is better this time, maybe it was already awesome since the first book and the problem was just my preference. I know a lot of fellow readers and bloggers liked the first two books so badly but I am not sorry that it was not my cup of tea (I just can’t!). Everything is interesting, appealing, and the plot twists are all breathtaking and jaw-dropping. I was just hoping for more action-packed scenes but there was none. I was also expecting a happy-ever-after but the ending is perfect nonetheless (and I am not complaining!). It has been an awesome journey to be a witness of how Adelina, Terren, Margiano, and Violetta evolved into being better and bolder characters. I’ll obviously give Marie Lu the standing ovation for always giving her readers a badass and memorable ending. Her first trilogy, the Legend series, has the best ending everrr! And this book is undeniably next to that! Maybe I need to reread the first two books one of these days and be able to secure a hardback copy of all three of them. It is highly recommended for YA fantasy readers and you will not be disappointed; it will definitely exceed your expectations. Four out of five for being beautifully written and executed.

~JaNnA

Book Review #80: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

23395680“Perhaps bravery is simply the face humanity wraps around its collective madness.”

Title: Illuminae
Series: The Illuminae Files
Author: Jay Kristoff and Amy Kaufman
ISBN: 0553499114
Pages: 608
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Format: Hardback
Date Published: October 20, 2015
Publishing House: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Goodreads Rating: 4.32
Personal Rating: 4/5

Synopsis

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival mega-corporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never spoken to again.

BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes. [Goodreads]

My Personal Thoughts

This book has been sitting on my shelf for a very long time already. I remember buying this as a birthday present for myself back in 2015. First of all, the book’s physical attributes really caught my attention and interest. It is unique, badass, and very good looking (INDEED). The fonts used are really nice and the dust jacket is cool. It will really fit into the “cover book buy” category where readers automatically buy a book because the cover is just so gorgeous and appealing. I tried to read it a year ago but I felt the need to stop halfway because I had a hard time contemplating about it. It was not written in a conventional way; it is a compilation of reports, emails, and files that were retrieved because everything went to hell during the apocalypse (war). This time I finally gave it one more shot and I tried to read it again but I used an audiobook so it will be easy peasy for me and I can listen to it whenever I’m on the go.

The setting is up in space. This story is a post apocalyptic science fiction themed novel and end of the world thingy actually excites me as well. Honestly, there were plenty of spaceships and I was lost halfway so I just Googled some of the information in order for me to be able to catch up. If you will not focus and give your full and undivided attention, you will not appreciate the story and it will be very difficult to understand it. I know that because I am one of those readers who were like “WTF” and “Whaaaattttt”. Anyway, all I know is Kerenza is the main characters’ planet who was destroyed because of a war between two corporations. All the survivors rode a fleet up, up, and away so they could evacuate and the rest is history.

The main characters are Kady Grant and Ezra Mason. Before the world almost ended, they were lovers and they broke up on the same day that their planet was destroyed. Kady is a computer geek who’s very smart and talented. I like stories where the woman is very strong and intelligent just like her. I admire her skills and the way that she did not need any saving. Ezra, on the other hand, is easy to like. He is loyal to Kady despite the fact that she broke up with him already. I like their tandem because geek girl meets boy next door. I did ship them because I like their chemistry, there is something about long distance relationships that will make you admire the people in it.

The writing style is not easy to grasp like what I mentioned earlier. You really need to focus because the book’s outline is unique and it is not in a narrative way. It is filled with different reports from the ships and different files which contain some difficult to understand words and facts. Maybe I’ll read Gemina through my actual book instead of listening to an audiobook again (or maybe I’ll do it simultaneously) because this time I am so ready to dive into their world again. I enjoyed Illuminae even though it is very difficult to understand, and that’s the exact same reason why appreciate it. It was worth it.

It is highly recommended this book to readers who enjoy science fiction, apocalyptic stories, and young adult romance. Four out of five for all the shit that I’ve been through, hahaha! Kudos to the writers, this is one hell of a book!

~JaNnA

 

Book Review #79: The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel (Review Copy from Hachette Australia)

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“Vowing to discover the fate of her missing cousin, a woman returns to her family’s Kansas estate where she spent one haunting summer as a teen, and where she discovered the dark heart of the Roanoke clan that left her no choice but to run.”

Title: The Roanoke Girls
Author: Amy Engel
ISBN: 1473648394
Pages: 277
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Mystery
Format: Paperback
Date Published: March 14, 2017
Publishing House: Hodder and Stoughton
Goodreads Rating: 3.73
Personal Rating: 4/5

Synopsis

Lane Roanoke is fifteen when she comes to live with her maternal grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, at the Roanoke family estate in rural Osage Flats, Kansas, following the suicide of her mother. Lane knows little of her mother’s family, other than the fact that her mother ran away years before and cut off all contact with her parents. Allegra, abandoned by her own mother at birth and raised by her grandparents, introduces Lane to small-town life and the benefits of being one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But there is darkness at the heart of the Roanoke family, and when Lane discovers its insidious pull she has no choice but to run, as far and as fast as she can.

Eleven years later, Lane is scraping by in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls with the news that Allegra has gone missing. “Come home,” he beckons. Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to Osage Flats, determined to find her cousin and assuage her own guilt at having left Allegra behind all those years ago. Her return might mean a second chance with Cooper, the boyfriend whom she loved and destroyed that fateful summer. But it also means facing the terrible secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between the summer of Lane’s first arrival and the summer of her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart. [Goodreads]

My Personal Thoughts

Wow! This book is very controversial, dark, and twisted; and I don’t know where and how to start this book talk (face palm). I rarely read stories that are unconventional. I actually had no idea that this is one of them when I requested for a copy to read and review here on my blog. However, despite the fact that it is somewhat disturbing, I found myself being thrilled to find out more about the characters and how the story will progress.

The story took place in Kansas; a small town where the population is just few and everybody knows almost everyone’s secret. It is perfect for the story because every family has a secret and the Roanoke clan was able to preserve their most precious one; not until it’s already too complicated to hide all their skeletons in the closet.

The main character is Lane, the only remaining Roanoke girl. She had a troubled childhood because she did not really have an amazing relationship with her mother. I feel sorry for her because she went through a lot and suffered too much because of the Roanoke family’s curse. All the women in the family underwent through a lot of struggle because of this. Lane’s love interest is a man who also happened to be a person with a tragic family history. I guess misery loves company. Lane’s cousin, Allegra, is the main reason how she was able to unravel all her grandparents’ secrets. She did everything she can to find out how and why her cousin suddenly went missing and she did not stop until she finally discovered the truth; the shocking and horrifying truth. Lastly, Yates, the Roanoke girls’ grandfather is the antagonist in the story. I don’t know what to say regarding his character because I despise his existence. I’ve read one particular story like this before but this is the most disgusting so far. I don’t want to get into details because it will spoil you if ever you’re interested to read it. Overall, the characters are all well-crafted and the masks that they were all wearing made the story even more enticing.

The writing style is pretty fine. I was able to finish the story in 6 hours and I was really hooked (not in a very positive way though). I did not put the book down (literally) because I was full of rage towards the antagonist. I wanted to find out more and be done with it. It was a nice ending but that does not make the story great and impressive. The story is uncommon and I find it creepy. Maybe it is not my cup of tea. In addition to this, everything was also very predictable. When I just started, I already made a guess as to how the story will go and what in the hell is going on. And I was right. I hope the author made it more mysterious so readers will crave for more. But still I liked the way it was executed, all the other elements are good especially how the characters made a connection to each other. I also like how it ended, it is the proper ending but I was hoping that other than the person who was convicted, the actual person who has been committing a crime decades ago should be the one behind bars. It was a story where the sinner was not able to accept that everything was his fault. Right until the end, he was firm that he was just doing the best for everyone and that is bullshit. Sorry but things as delicate as the controversy involved here should not be discussed as if it was right and natural and needs to be accepted. However, I still gave this story a four because like what I always say, psychological thrillers always excite me. Would I recommend this book? Yes, if you are an open and mature reader because I know that you will appreciate what’s within. But if you are a conservative reader, I suggest that you stay away from this book. Young adult readers can also read this as long as you don’t let it get to you because I was not kidding when I mentioned that it is “DISTURBING”.

Thank you, Hachette Australia, for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest and fair review. This, however, does not affect my views and opinions.

~JaNnA