Book Review #88: Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren (Review Copy from Bloomsbury Publishing)

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Title: Prisoner of Ice and Snow
Author: Ruth Lauren
Pages: 288
Genre: Middle-Grade Fantasy
Format: Trade Paperback
Date Published: September 07, 2017
Publishing House: Bloomsbury Children’s
Goodreads Rating: 3.96
Personal Rating: 4 / 5

Synopsis

Valor is under arrest for the attempted murder of the crown prince. Her parents are outcasts from the royal court, her sister is banished for theft of a national treasure, and now Valor has been sentenced to life imprisonment at Demidova, a prison built from stone and ice.

But that’s exactly where she wants to be. For her sister was sent there too, and Valor embarks on an epic plan to break her out from the inside.

No one has escaped from Demidova in over three hundred years, and if Valor is to succeed she will need all of her strength, courage, and love. If the plan fails, she faces a chilling fate worse than any prison …

An unforgettable story of sisterhood, valour and rebellion, Prisoner of Ice and Snow will fire you up and melt your heart all at once. Perfect for fans of Katherine Rundell, Piers Torday, and Cathryn Constable. [Goodreads]

My Personal Thoughts

This book is actually out of my comfort zone. It is a middle-grade fantasy novel; yes I do read fantasy books but it is the first time that I’ve read something for the young ones. I’ve read children’s books before and reviewed them as well but I did not expect this one to be interesting and time worthy. At first, I was hesitant when I picked it up from my shelf; I already assumed that I’ll get bored and that I won’t be able to finish it. Surprisingly, Valor (the main character) is impressive and her heart’s desires are just pure and unconditional. This is about the story of how she conquered every hindrance that came along her way in order to save her sister who was accused of stealing a precious music box owned by the royal family which will serve as an object to end a foreseeable war. Her determination and love for her twin sister (Sasha) are just so admirable and it made me realise that I want my kids to read this book so that it’ll teach them a lesson like how one should treat and value his sibling. I personally do not have any experience with regards to this matter because I am an only child. I grew up thinking that I don’t need to share anything with anyone since I don’t have a brother or a sister. Everything was just about me. At first, it felt amazing, who wouldn’t want to be in my position? But as time passed by, I’ve met people in school and in the real world, and then I realised that I don’t have anyone whom I can turn to when everything’s messy and shit. Yes, it’s great to have friends but it must be different and extra special to have a brother or a sister. So I really appreciated this story and the lessons that it taught me. The setting is really awesome; I love fantasy novels so it wasn’t that hard to get a hang of this one. The “prison” is a secured place where for the past 300 years no one was able to escape it due to the fact that it is heavily secured and that the guards are all strong, scary as hell, and skilled. The characters are all lovely especially Valor. Sasha, on the other hand, is the exact opposite of Valor, she isn’t skilled when it comes to using a bow but she is gifted with charm and intelligence, too bad that they accused her of stealing the music box. Prince Anatol is a mystery. He did not surprise me with his antics and stuff because I’ve already predicted some of the scenarios right from the start. The only thing that drove me nuts was that I wasn’t able to guess as to who will betray Valor and Sasha in the end. Anyway, that is a valid point because it means that the story still has its reservations and it still surprised me with its twists and turn out of events. It wasn’t that much but it definitely made sense. Overall, I highly recommend it to young adult and middle-grade readers who are starting to become a bookworm. It is filled with life lessons that these people can easily understand and relate to.

Thank you so much, Bloomsbury, for my copy.

~JaNnA

 

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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 #77: Stargazing for Beginners by Jenny McLachlan (Advance Reader Copy from Bloomsbury Publishing)

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“When a huge star dies, there is a massive explosion, a supernova, and later, all that’s left is a dark, dense black hole where no light can get in or out. From brilliant lightness to total darkness.”

Title: Stargazing for Beginners
Author: Jenny McLachlan
ISBN: 9781408879757
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Date Published: April 06, 2017
Publishing House: Bloomsbury Publishing
Goodreads Rating: 4.14
Personal Rating: 4/5 

Synopsis [Goodreads]

Science geek Meg is left to look after her little sister for ten days after her free-spirited mom leaves suddenly to follow up yet another of her Big Important Causes. But while Meg may understand how the universe was formed, baby Elsa is a complete mystery to her.

And Mom’s disappearance has come at the worst time: Meg is desperate to win a competition to get the chance to visit NASA headquarters, but to do this she has to beat a close rival, Ed. Can Meg pull off this double life of caring for Elsa and following her own dreams? She’ll need a miracle of cosmic proportions…

Fans fell in love with the warmth, wit, romance and fierce friendships in Flirty Dancing, Love Bomb, Sun kissed and Star Struck, and Stargazing for Beginners has all that and galaxies more. This is the best kind of real-life fiction – with big themes and irresistible characters; it goes straight to your heart.

My Personal Thoughts

Alright, so I find this book cute, nerdy and totally awesome! I received my copy from Bloomsbury Publishing Australia along with other three newly released young adult contemporary novels. Frankly, young adult contemporary is not my thing, but since different publishing companies are sending me books with this type of genre lately, I am becoming more and more inclined to it. And I actually find myself liking it. I can’t believe that simple stuff and stories like this one can still make me feel giddy and excited. The story is simple, there’s really nothing unusual in all honesty, but I find myself enjoying it as the story progresses! It is highly entertaining because of the female character, Meg Clark is a certified Science geek and a smarty-pants. I even learned a lot from her and took down some notes. She is so obsessed with the galaxy and she was able to make me reminisce some of the stuff that I’ve already forgotten since my elementary days, and God knows how long it has been since. Let’s talk about Meg’s prince charming, Ed King, I like Ed! I love the idea that despite being an athlete and a heartthrob, he also happens to be Meg’s fellow Science geek and it’s just so cute that Meg and Ed are the contenders in class ever since. I know it may sound cliché but things like this still make me swoon so badly. I can relate to Meg’s character because obviously, she is an introvert but not until the Biscuit Club was founded (you have to read it to find out more). Her mother is a selfish and self-centered woman and I just hate the idea that she left Meg and her little sister alone with just the grandfather to look after them, and apparently, their grandfather is already showing signs of irresponsibility and dementia. So, yes, for me Meg’s mother is the antagonist-ish here. But I am so impressed with how the character handled all the chaos that she was put into and how all these stuff made her a better person. Furthermore, the friendships formed here are just too beautiful; you can see the transformation of each character from being mean and selfish to selfless and loyal. I also like the author’s writing style, it was a fast-read and even though that the story is predictable I still manage to enjoy and appreciate it so much. I highly recommend this for young adult readers. I gave it a four out of five rating and I was hoping for a sequel because I can’t get enough of Ed and Meg’s story. Lastly, I want to commend the cover! It is undeniably gorgeous and elegant! It is very enticing because purple and gold are always good together. Hope I was able to help you with my insight and thanks for reading my review, until the next book talk.

~JaNnA

Book Review #65: My Name is Victoria by Lucy Worsley (Advance Reader Copy from Bloomsbury Publishing Australia)

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Title: My Name is Victoria
Author: Lucy Worsley
Pages: 372
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Format: Paperback (Advance Reader Copy)
Date Published: March 09, 2017
Publishing House: Bloomsbury Publishing
GoodReads Rating: 3.87
Personal Rating: 5/5

Synopsis

‘You are my sister now,’ Victoria said, quietly and solemnly. ‘Never forget it. I love you like a sister, and you are my only friend in all the world.’ Miss V. Conroy is good at keeping secrets. She likes to sit as quiet as a mouse, neat and discreet. But when her father sends her to Kensington Palace to become the companion to Princess Victoria, Miss V soon finds that she can no longer remain in the shadows. Miss V’s father has devised a strict set of rules for the young princess, which he calls the Kensington System. It governs her behaviour and keeps her locked away from the world. He says it is for the princess’s safety, but Victoria herself is convinced that it is to keep her lonely and unhappy. Torn between loyalty to her father and her growing friendship with the wilful and passionate Victoria, Miss V has a decision to make: to continue in silence or to speak out. By turns thrilling, dramatic and touching, this is the story of Queen Victoria’s childhood as you’ve never heard it before.

My Personal Thoughts

This book is epic, classy, and very informative. I just love how the author made it look like a cute young adult story but the truth is it talks about history and royalty. The two main characters are both easy to like and understand. One bratty, cute, and moody princess named Victoria which is actually the late Queen Victoria when she was young and careless. And the other girl is Miss V (who also happens to be named Victoria as well), the daughter of the princess’ comptroller. I like the girls’ friendship because it is so pure and innocent, no drama and everything. Miss V is so selfless and devoted to the princess which is what I admired about her the most. The story obviously took place in England where the royal family resides and it is just so awesome to be able to travel back in time and revisit the past thru a modern-ish story like this. The author is a historian and she did a great and awesome job with this novel. It is so entertaining and fun! I like every scene and chapter. I did not get bored. I was able to finish the story in two days and there is just something about it that you won’t be able to set it aside. The antagonist on the other hand who is Miss V’s father, Sir John Conroy, is a manipulator and a total control freak. He symbolizes the image of men ages ago who manipulates women and who constantly wants to be on top and with power. I feel sorry for Princess Victoria’s mother, the Duchess, because Sir John used her to his advantage. Miss V’s mother is also a victim of the man’s greediness. The story is an eye opener, it will make a reader realise what life was a couple of decades ago. How money and wealth rules and how powerless princes and princesses are when choosing who to marry. Overall the story is screaming perfection. I like the first person narration and the small and simple images drawn every chapter. It is a very cute book, the cover is breathtaking and an auto-buy! Thank you, Bloomsbury, for sending me a copy to review and promote. Highly recommended for readers of all ages. Bravo, Miss Worsley, this was incredibly written. 😊