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

 

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

Book Review #76: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

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“I’m a little distracted by this English French American Boy Masterpiece.”

 Title: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
ISBN: 0307968537
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Chick Lit
Format: Audiobook
Date Published: October 11, 2011
Publishing House: Books on Tape
Goodreads Rating: 4.08
Personal Rating: 4/5

Synopsis

Can Anna find love in the City of Light?

Anna is happy in Atlanta. She has a loyal best friend and a crush on her co-worker at the movie theater, who is just starting to return her affection. So she’s less than thrilled when her father decides to send her to a boarding school in Paris for her senior year.

But despite not speaking a word of French, Anna meets some cool new people, including the handsome Étienne St. Clair, who quickly becomes her best friend. Unfortunately, he’s taken —and Anna might be, too. Will a year of romantic near misses end with the French kiss she’s waiting for? [Goodreads]

My Personal Thoughts

The very first time that I’ve read Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins was two years ago via digital copy and I wasn’t a book collector yet back then, I was just a plain book reader. I enjoyed this so much; it was cute and highly entertaining. Although the story is shallow, I still find myself immersed within Anna and Etienne’s up and down ride. This week, I decided to re-read this story through an audio book which approximately took me two days to finish while doing some coloring and stuff.

The setting is in a boarding school located in Paris. Who wouldn’t want to read a book that is set in one of the world’s most beautiful cities? When I read the synopsis before, I was already so eager to dive into their world because Paris is one of the places that I’ve been dreaming of going to and it’s even included on my bucket list. So, yes, the setting is definitely very appealing and romantic! It is undeniably perfect for the story line.

Let’s talk about the characters one by one and let me tell you something nice and annoying about them. Etienne St. Clair, he is the American/French boy who swept me off my feet two years ago. He is sweet and handsome. There is nothing to dislike about St. Clair except for the fact that he is afraid to be alone and to make big life decisions. It sucks right? You have all the beauty and everything but some of your principles in life are just off. Next is Anna Oliphant, the innocent girl from America who fell in love with her best friend. Anna is nice, an ideal girl to go out with but I find her pathetic and a certified boyfriend stealer! Sorry for the fans but Anna just annoyed the hell out of me when I read the book for the second time. I liked her so much before but then now I realized that she did things on purpose even though the boy is in a relationship. She did not actually resist his advances, she flirted with him as well. Oh gosh! I just hate girls and women like her. Anyway, they still made the perfect pair! It may be a cliché but the best friend to boyfriend thing is kind of cute but RISKY.

The story line is usual and there’s nothing special, to be honest. There is nothing in the story that I haven’t read from other young adult contemporary books before and it is not a good thing if you’ll ask me. I was expecting for something new and interesting but no, it was disappointing to realize that the story is plain, odd, and just simple. Nonetheless, I still enjoyed the story and I am not complaining.

Overall, it is highly recommended for young adult readers because it does not contain sensual scenes and it is full of innocence and pure fun, friendships, and first loves! New adult readers might find it boring though. Four out of five for giving me butterflies in the stomach because St. Clair is swoon-worthy, indeed.

~JaNnA

Book Review #75: The Diabolic (The Diabolic, #1) by S.J. Kincaid

20031005_1068750266589697_416498703_n“Some might call us a monstrous pair, and they would be right. Tyrus and I were both scorpions in our way, dangerous creatures crossing most treacherous of rivers together. Together we might sting- but we also would float. Perhaps Scorpions were the only ones who could save each other. Whatever lay ahead, it would always be the two of us above the rest of the universe, and woe to any who dared step in our path.”

Title: The Diabolic
Author: S.J. Kincaid
Pages: 407
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia
Format: Hardback
Date Published: November 01, 2016
Publishing House: Simon & Schuster
Goodreads Rating: 4.07
Personal Rating: 5/5

SYNOPSIS

Nemesis is a Diabolic. Created to protect a galactic Senator’s daughter, Sidonia. There’s no one Nemesis wouldn’t kill to keep her safe. But when the power-mad Emperor summons Sidonia to the galactic court as a hostage, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia.

She must become her.

Now one of the galaxy’s most dangerous weapons is masquerading in a world of corruption and Nemesis has to hide her true abilities or risk everything. As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns that there is something stronger than her deadly force: the one thing she’s been told she doesn’t have – humanity. And, amidst all the danger, action and intrigue, her humanity might be the only thing that can save her, Sidonia and the entire Empire…

MY PERSONAL THOUGHTS

WOW! Just WOW! I can’t even start drafting my book review for this! I actually started typing ten minutes after I finished the book! Yes, that’s just how awesome it is! It may sound cliche’ but this story is actually one of my best reads for 2017. I seldom give a five-star rating these past few months because everything seems to be just the same but this one definitely made an exception! I am so impressed and I feel totally refreshed! Honestly, it took me ages to finally be able to finish it because of work, university, etc. I even had a reading slump last week because I just can’t seem to focus on the story. But when the characters finally merged and everything fell into place, OMG!, I was left breathless and in deep awe! It exceeded my expectations and I was surprised! The main character is very different from all the other characters that I have read before. Nemesis is a diabolic who is destined to kill and protect that one person that she was created for. Diabolics are ruthless but loyal creatures. They resemble the features of a normal person but they were trained to kill and be murderous if needed. Nemesis is a badass female protagonist which can sometimes be an antagonist as well. I know, you’re getting way too confused right now but all I can say is that this story is worth a shot, I wasn’t disappointed, it is indeed worthy of your time and effort! The author writes in a very interesting manner, I like how the story went on and evolved. The political thing is not my cup of tea but I was able to enjoy it being incorporated in a science fiction slash dystopian setting. Ugh! I’m running out of words right now and everything is so overwhelming. I can’t get over the fact that I misjudged this book during the first few chapters and I am completely wrong! I did not read any book review prior to commencing this book so it was really a fair shot. I loved each and every chapter, I am fascinated by how the characters were made and polished, I am overjoyed with Nemesis’ development and I am so proud of what she became in the end. It was mentioned that Diabolics does not have any emotions and that they are not created to feel anything for anyone except for their master, but the story really astonished me because who would have thought that a “Madman” like Tyrus Domitrian can change everything? The love story included is just to die for! I’ve been shipping the pair since the moment I’ve read Tyrus’ name and YAY I am so happy with how it ended. Sorry, I can’t help but be a bit spoilery. It is so good and I am so excited for the next book to come out! There are plenty of life and love lessons and it made the story even better. One badass story like this deserves some hype and appreciation. I highly recommend this for readers of all ages who enjoy reading stories about a kickass female character.  This will undeniably blow your mind! Highly entertaining and gripping, INDEED.

~JaNnA

Book Review #74: Adulthood is a Myth (Sarah’s Scribbles #1) by Sarah Andersen

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Title: Adulthood is a Myth
Author: Sarah Andersen
Pages: 109
Genre: Graphic Novel, Comics
Format: Digital Copy
Date Published: March 08, 2016
Publishing House: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Goodreads Rating: 4.14
Personal Rating: 5/5
Synopsis

Are you a special snowflake?

Do you enjoy networking to advance your career?

Is adulthood an exciting new challenge for which you feel fully prepared?

Ugh. Please go away.

This book is for the rest of us. These comics document the wasting of entire beautiful weekends on the internet, the unbearable agony of holding hands on the street with a gorgeous guy, dreaming all day of getting home and back into pajamas, and wondering when, exactly, this adulthood thing begins. In other words, the horrors and awkwardnesses of young modern life. [Goodreads]

My Personal Thoughts
This comic compilation is HIGHLY ENTERTAINING and a real JAW_DROPPER! LOL.Why?
Why? Because it basically sums up all my feelings and beliefs in career, love, and life! All in ONE. Haha! OMG! I can’t believe that a comic strip collection as clever as this one exists and I am so thankful that I decided to pick it up and give it a shot. I am so impressed with the author for coming up with the perfect concept to show the people what are the dos and don’ts of adulthood. It is so awesome! I read it in 30 minutes, it’s so funny and bubbly and very relatable. The drawings are all so simple but I find them cute. The cover is striking as well, at first it will give you an impression that it is solely for kids but surprisingly, it is for grown-ups as well. I highly recommend it to readers of all ages, especially to those people who can mostly relate to the scenarios and facts included (maybe ages 20 and up?).
I gave it a 5-star rating for being realistic and an eye-opener. Kudos! More, please!
~JaNnA💜

Book Review #73: Bitter Sweet Love by Michael Faudet

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Title: Bitter Sweet Love
Author: Michael Faudet
Pages: 208
Genre: Poetry, Erotica
Format: Digital Copy
Date Published: October 25, 2016
Publishing House: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Goodreads Rating: 3.69
Personal Rating: 4/5
​Synopsis
Bitter Sweet Love is the much-anticipated second collection of internationally best-selling poet Michael Faudet, author of “Dirty Pretty Things,” a finalist in the 2015 Goodreads Readers Choice Awards. Michael Faudet’s whimsical and often erotic writing has captured the hearts and minds of literally thousands of readers from around the world. He paints vivid pictures with intricate words and explores the compelling themes of love, loss, relationships, and sex. All beautifully captured in poetry, prose, quotes, and little short stories. [Goodreads]

My Personal Thoughts

Michael Faudet’s second book is better than his first (Dirty Pretty Things). He was known for his erotica poems and that’s what makes him unique and sort of impressive in a way. I am not really a huge fan of poems but I do enjoy reading them since high school. I remember having a classmate way back 15-ish years ago who also writes his own poems but in our native language in the Philippines which is Filipino and in our local dialect (Tagalog). He was so good at it and since then I’ve been enjoying poems and haikus as well. I tried to write one before but it was an epic fail, of course. Haha! Moving on, I’ve mentioned earlier that I like this book better because in the first poetry book, it was just full of lust and sensual scenarios which for me is just disgusting and unconventional. I have nothing against his style, it is on point and beautiful, the way he was able to incorporate sex and love together in a piece while still making it classy and deep. Maybe I was just surprised with his first book that’s why I found it porn-ish. This time, I enjoyed it. I finished it in a couple of hours and I even highlighted some of my favourites. He talked about a variety of stuff but I love how he included some female names here which made the book more personal and realistic. It was a fun and enjoyable reading experience and plenty of love and life lessons can be extracted from this compilation. I highly recommend this for mature poetry lovers or even non poetry readers who want to try something out of the ordinary. This is awesome and for me it deserves time and more attention. I am looking forward to read more of Michael Faudet’s creations and I think he has a 3rd book coming out soon. So yeah, I am excited! ^_^

~JaNnA