Book Review #78: The Build-Up Season by Megan Jacobson (Review Copy from Penguin Random House Australia)

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“Everybody’s good when they’re good, darling. You don’t judge a person by that. It’s how they act when things aren’t good that tells you who they really are.”

Title: The Build-Up Season
Author: Megan Jacobson
ISBN: 9780143573388
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Date Published: July 31, 2017
Publishing House: Penguin Random House Australia
Goodreads Rating: 4.31
Personal Rating: 4/5 

Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Iliad Piper – Ily for short – is named after war and angry at the world. Growing up with a violent father and abused mother, she doesn’t know how to do relationships, family or friends. Her love-hate friendship with Max turns into a prank war and she nearly destroys her first true friendship with misfit Mia. She takes off her armour for nobody until she meets Jared, a local actor and someone who’s as complicated as she is.

From the author of Yellow comes a powerful exploration of family and identity set against the humid build-up to the wet season in Darwin. [Goodreads]

My Personal Thoughts

The Build-Up season is a young adult contemporary story that gave me the “feels”, literally and figuratively. I have always been cautious and feeling off whenever I review a book that contains sensitive topic like violence against women and children. I hate it, I just so despise the fact that this thing exists not just today but even before we were all aware of its modern term. I remember when I reviewed Colleen Hoover’s novel entitled “It Ends with Us” (check my review HERE)r , it was very delicate and I even revised my draft a few times just to make sure that I did not offend anyone or opened up a very controversial stuff. It’s hard if you know someone who’s a victim, but it’s even harder if you are the victim itself.

I would like to thank Penguin Teen Australia for providing me an advance copy in exchange for an honest and fair book review. This, however, does not change my view and opinion about the book.

First and foremost, let’s start talking about the setting. The story took place in Darwin (Australia), I actually do not have a vast amount of knowledge regarding the place but because it was here in the land down under, it made me appreciate the story more. The story and setting matches, it is a perfect place for someone who’s hiding from someone and wants to start over. I am guessing that some people in Darwin like the main character herself dreams of taking up a college degree in Sydney or in a more modernised state and it was perfectly portrayed in the story. Some simple high school students aspire to become popular in Sydney and excel in their chosen careers. I have nothing to say regarding the setting aside from the fact that the author chose the perfect place.

Moving on, I will discuss the characters briefly one by one. Iliad is the young female character in this novel that is named from the famous poem itself about war. She is fierce, loyal, and free-spirited. I love how Ily expresses herself without the fear of being judged and rejected. She does things that will satisfy her without giving a crap about other people’s opinion. The negative thing about Ily is that I hated the way she treated her mother. I don’t want to spoil anything but it’s one of the main reasons why you should pick up this book and dive in her story. The next character is Jared; he is ambitious, handsome, but has a temper. He could have been a perfect partner for anyone but I was so disappointed when I discovered his true identity. I love his chemistry with Ily but at the same time, I was afraid of him as well. There is a love triangle in the story (which I always enjoy! Ha!) and my ship has always been with the bad guy, and this time it is Max. He is Ily’s neighbour who happens to be her mortal enemy at the same time. I enjoyed their prank war and the way their story and characters developed. It may sound cliché but I find the love hate relationship highly entertaining especially at first. The last character that I want to discuss is Ily’s mother. I pity the woman so much. She loves Iliad unconditionally that she almost gave up everything and pretended to be the bad person just so she could protect her daughter. I personally felt her battles and feelings because I am also a mother. I find the heroic act of standing up and fighting for your child as the best action of all.

The writing style is superb. I already liked it just by skim reading the first page. Iliad’s name already caught my interest and curiosity and I wasn’t disappointed. I love how delicate the topic was and how the author gave justification to it. I cringed a couple of times and it also made my heart skip a beat. Everything was so intense and beautiful. I could never wish for a better ending. Everything went the way they should have ended and I could not ask for more. I love how the problem with her father was figured out. I am impressed with how the author made Ily realise all her shortcomings and how she made some amends to all the people that she unintentionally hurt. And of course, my OTP (one true pair) ship made it! Yay!

Overall, I highly recommend this story to YA readers who enjoy books that will give those bits and pieces of life and love advice. This is one hell of a book that one should read because it is an eye-opener and it is phenomenal. Plenty of women or family are suffering from this kind of crisis and immediate help must be sought. Please, wherever you are in the world, please be aware that you are not alone in this battle and there is help available. Do not be afraid to walk the path alone, being abused is not something to be ignored or be given a justification. Nobody has the right to hurt you, not even your spouse. We care, I care.

~JaNnA

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Book Review #42: The Silence between Breaths by Cath Staincliffe

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Title: The Silence between Breaths
Author: Cath Staincliffe
Pages: 263
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781472118004
Genre: Thriller, Crime, Mystery
Date of Publication: September 22, 2016
Publishing House: Constable
Goodreads Rating: 4.2
Personal Rating: 4.5 / 5

Synopsis

Eight people, one deadly secret.

Passengers boarding the 10:35 train from Manchester, Piccadilly to London, Euston are bound for work, assignations, reunions, holidays or new starts, with no idea that their journey is about to be brutally curtailed.

Holly has just landed her dream job, which should make life a lot easier than it has been, and Jeff is heading for his first ever work interview after months of unemployment. They end up sitting next to each other. On board customer service assistant Naz dreams of better things as he collects rubbish from the passengers. And among the others travelling are Nick with his young family who are driving him crazy; pensioner Meg and her partner setting off on a walking holiday and facing an uncertain future; Caroline, run ragged by the competing demands of her stroppy teenage children and her demented mother; and Rhona, unhappy at work and desperate to get home to her small daughter. And in the middle of the carriage sits Saheel, carrying a deadly rucksack . . .

(Credits to http://www.goodreads.com)

Personal Thoughts

The Silence between Breaths by Cath Staincliffe is a story about life, death, and second chances. I honestly find it difficult to give my thoughts about this book because it discussed a very sensitive topic which is terrorism. I don’t want to say things that might offend any nationality and religion so I will just give my opinion about other things that occurred in the story. I absolutely enjoyed reading this masterpiece because it is action-packed and thrilling. I received this copy from Hachette Australia in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

The story took place in Europe. All the eight characters mentioned in the book’s synopsis are riding the train going to Euston. The first part of the story basically occurred inside the train then after the incident that changed all of their lives, the story is scattered into different places where the survivors reside. London… Why London? Maybe because it is full of life and fun. There are people who are very busy with their responsibilities in life. This scenario is not impossible; it happened a lot of times before to different places where there are plenty of people who might be affected, die or incur massive injuries. It is very sad but a story like this is an eye-opener for everyone. The setting is perfect for the plot.

There are eight characters so there is an alternation narration. I liked it! I was able to understand every character; their life, sorrow, ambitions, and everything. This is the same in our everyday life; we get to meet a lot of people in the street, on our way to work, in the bus station, etc. Each person out there has their own dose of happiness and fear. We all have our problems and shortcomings. We may judge other people based on their appearance but the truth that we don’t know anything about them will still remain. This is very heartbreaking, each person in that train is undergoing some major difficulties in their lives but sadly the incident still took place. Naz is very brave and helpful. Jeff is a promising employee. Holly is an independent woman. Nick is a jackass husband and father. Meg is sick. Caroline only wants to relax and rest for a while from her responsibilities. Rhona is a desperate mother. And Saheel, Saheel destroyed each and every one of them including a hundred more people on the same train.

The writing style is impressive. I am hooked on the story and I am able to finish it in three days. You will never put the book down once you start reading it. It is very intriguing and mysterious. Terrorism is one of the major problems that the world is facing today. We all have our different opinion about it. It is excruciating to know that some people who became victims of tragic incidents like this even from the past are still not yet over it. The story is about a train explosion caused by a university student named Saheel. He believed in his religion so much that the thought of sacrificing himself crossed his mind. He believes that if he washes away all the immorality in this world by committing suicide through hijacking a train, then he will be considered a hero in their sector. He idolized a lot of people who did it before. He resents his own family for not abiding in their religion wholeheartedly. Saheel is a very nice student who excels in school. He is a good brother and son. He thinks that homosexuality is a major sin and that people who commit it should repent. I will definitely never understand why he did it and why some of them actually want to do it. I feel sad for the people who lost all their loved ones; those who were injured, the ones who were amputated, the scars, the trauma, and all the shit that they went through. Their lives will never be same again. They will always carry the horrifying incident that happened to them. The first person narration is okay with me, I like how the way it was written. This is one great book is highly recommended to every reader out there. I am impressed by how the author presented the problem and eventually made a solution for each and every one of them in the end.

I made a lot of realizations here. Moving on and forgiving are two things that are very hard to achieve when you lost someone you love. Surviving a terrifying incident is a challenge. People who were able to make it alive after the explosion are left not just with scars but hatred and pain. Dealing with what’s left is the most difficult part especially the ones who had their limbs amputated. The most important thing here is to appreciate that you are still alive; that God gave you another chance to live. Some people died but here you are, you are alive and you can still be with your family. There a lot of things to be thankful of despite all the difficulties. Forgiving someone is a process and it will take time.

~JaNnA (@BibliophileMom)~

Comfort Zones are Tempting yet SCARY.

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PHOTO CREDIT TO OWNER : http://www.quotestagram.com
Hello! I’m back, again. If you’ve been reading my previous blog posts then I’m sure that you’re already aware that my husband and I recently moved here in Australia because I will be taking up a conversion program in Nursing for one year at the prestigious University of Canberra (Bruce Campus). And I’m  also certain that you’re wondering and asking WHY. Despite the fact that I’ve already finished my degree in Nursing in my home country, passed the Philippine Nursing Licensure Examination last 2008 and practiced as a Registered Nurse for 5 and 1/2 years?! Yeah, why? Apparently, our country’s nursing standards isn’t the same with the one that they have here in Australia. I still have to study for a year in order for me to earn a Bachelor Degree and become an Australian Registered Nurse. I truly believe that in God’s perfect time, I will be able to finish all this with pride and dignity. I am so grateful because my parents and in-laws gave me this once in a lifetime chance to pursue an advancement in my career in order for Knate and I to give the kids a better and brighter future. It is very heartbreaking for me to leave my children behind even just for a while, but sometimes we all have to be brave enough and face our fears and make some sacrifices. Before, never in my entire life have I imagined that I’ll be leaving the kids even for just a short period of time, especially now that they are at this age where they keep on asking a lot of questions, but, the people around me who truly cares made me realize that comfort zones are really great, tempting and beautiful but it’s truly scary to have regrets in the end. Finally, we’ve decided that it is about time to go out of our laid-back lifestyle and face the real world on our own.
The University of Canberra is located here in Bruce, ACT. According to WIKIPEDIA, UC offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses covering six main learning areas which are Applied ScienceHealthArt and DesignBusiness, Government and lawEducation and Information Sciences and Engineering. And I’m proud to say that according to some internet sites that I’ve recently visited, it is indeed included in the world’s top 100 “young” universities based on World University Rankings. So if you’ll ask me if I’m pressured, the answer will always be a YES. Hahaha! My first day at UNI is quite overwhelming! It felt surreal! I was like “OMG! At this age, I still have to go to UNI blah blah blah…” But my anxiety was automatically replaced with excitement after the orientation week. I like it here. I love how everything is within my reach. I was astonished with all the facilities especially the LIBRARY (bookworm problems 101, LOL). This is definitely a world-class institution and I’m very thankful that I’m finally here.
A simple unsolicited advice to people my age or even to the ones who are younger or older than me is that never ever be afraid to make some major changes in your lives. I know how scary (DAMN!) it is to leave your home especially with all the convenience and the comfort that your family brings you but if you will not do it now, then, when? What if it’s too late already? What if the chance might never come your way again? Having “what ifs “ and “only ifs” are life’s greatest enemy. So take a leap, change your path and soar high! We can do it, we just have to believe in ourselves. ^_^ -Janna

Lake Ginninderra

Hello! I am so so so back from the dead! It has been a while! My husband and I recently moved in here in Canberra (Australian Capital Territory) because I will be taking up a conversion program for nurses at the University of Canberra for a year (may the odds be ever in my favor, LOL). Anyway, our housemates are very kind enough to spare us a little of their time and accompanied us around the area.
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First, we went to Lake Ginninderra.
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Lake Ginnindera is a man-made lake located at the Ginninderra Creek. It is home to a large number of wildlife like the black swans, ducks, rakalis and moorhens. Yiheee! There’s a black swan beside me! hihi ^_^v
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The lake side has a lot of benches where one can sit, eat or read! Oh yes! I did it. But if it’s winter, well, you have to be very flexible because it’s freezing! O_o.
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From now on, this place will be our home. Hopefully, in God’s perfect time, we can bring the kids with us here and we will live happily ever after. haha! Forgive me, I miss my gummy bears terribly and blogging is my only outlet aside from book photography and reading. Okay, ’til my next entry, loves.
xoxo,
Janna