Book Review #64: Caraval (Caraval #1) by Stephanie Garber

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Title: Caraval
Author: Stephanie Garber
Pages: 401
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: Paperback (Advance Reader Copy)
Date Published: January 31, 2017
Publishing House: Hachette Australia
GoodReads Rating: 4.0
Personal Rating: 3.5/5

Remember, it’s only a game…

Synopsis

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.

My Personal Thoughts

I would like to thank the generous publicity department of Hachette Children’s Books, for sending me an advance reader copy (ages ago) in exchange for an honest and fair review. You still send me books despite being behind with my reviews. Moving on, this book is quite intriguing and mysterious! When I read the synopsis last year, I was already so eager to have my own copy. Surprisingly, the abovementioned publishing company sent me an ARC even though I did not request for one (again, thank you!). The cover of this book is screaming awesomeness and class! I think the UK version is also very gorgeous and hardbound-worthy. The book’s cover is merely enough for a bookworm to grab a physical copy of this novel.

First, the story’s setting is so commendable! It is well-described and the island is perfect for the caraval’s set up. I just love how the story and the setting matched! The island is so mysterious and creepy. It will make you cringe! Every scenario will have you clueless and in deep awe. There’s just something so magical about the place that even as a reader I was mesmerised (or rather should I say, hypnotised?). Second, the characters are so-so. Sorry if you are a huge fan of this novel but Scarlett just annoys the hell out of me. It would have been better if Donatella (Scarlett’s sister) was the one who portrayed her character. She is so scared, needy, and stupid, and I wanted to strangle her personally multiple times. Donatella, on the other hand, is the fierce one, the badass one, the loveable one! It’s too bad that her role just made few appearances and the story revolved around Scarlet. The leading man, Julian, lacks the swoon-worthy factor. He is adorable and handsome, but no, sorry, it’s not enough. He is full of shit and lies, and crap. In the end, I don’t even know who Julian is, or if he is also lying with me (and with the readers). It’s just so frustrating and confusing when a character lies and deceives repeatedly. Legend, the mysterious game master, is an asshat. I don’t know! I just couldn’t say anything positive about the characters. And lastly, the governor (Scarlett and Donatella’s father) is a freaking moron. I couldn’t even stomach all the things that he did. WOW! This story is just so full of crappy characters, I can’t believe it. Third, the writing style is just not for me. I don’t have a thing or patience with slow-paced stories. I fell asleep twice last night while reading. Maybe I lost interest the moment everything got so mixed up. The scenes, the characters, it’s just full of mysteries and deception; and in the end, I was left confused, hanging, and questioning my own comprehending capability. Am I stupid to understand or get a hang of it or it’s just too lousy and boring? Don’t get me wrong, the magic and all are so amazing and electrifying! I will give it credit for that! It is so magical and one heck of a rollercoaster ride, it’s like being in Alice in Wonderland. I love how it made me feel but there are just some things that made it really messy. Lastly, the story undeniably contains a lot of life and love lessons to think about. I am impressed! There are plenty of memorable lines and quotes that are heart-warming and inspirational. Will I still read the next book? Of course! Even though here I am ranting like crazy, I still want to know what will happen next especially with that CLIFF-HANGER (rolling my eyes right now). I still want to find out who Legend is, where their mother is, and what will happen to their lives. I am still interested, and YES I do recommend this book if you want to read and devour on something new and intriguing. I’ll give it three and a half out of five stars for making me want to continue ‘til next book.

~JaNnA

Book Review #61: Ragdoll (Detective William Fawkes #1) by Daniel Cole

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“One body.. Six victims…”

Synopsis
A body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together like a puppet, nicknamed by the press as the ‘ragdoll’.
Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter.
The ‘Ragdoll Killer’ taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them.
With six people to save, can Fawkes and Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move?
My Personal Thoughts
Ragdoll is a story that will give you the feels as if you are watching the tv series CSI. It is about a detective and his journey towards unraveling a case that has been haunting him for quite a long time. It is a heinous crime where six victim’s specific body parts were stitched together to create one dead body for the police and the media to talk about. My reading experience is so fantastic that I cringed a couple of times while the characters are trying to piece together all the clues that the murderer was giving them. It was a topsy-turvy escapade because 6 victims will also be killed on designated dates and the last victim is detective Fawkes himself. The writing style is good but not that appealing, although the author caught my full and undivided attention. I was able to finish the book in 2 consecutive days. It is a decent and nice crime fiction story but I find the scenarios too TV Series-ish. All that was included in the book were also scenes that a reader can find in some tv programs nowadays so I wasn’t really that surprised with the ending. In addition to this, the Evil-ish thingie in the end is not my thing. I find it off and not too appropriate with the plot line. Overall, it is recommended for readers who enjoy crime fiction but don’t expect too much because it is a conventional type of story and writing and nothing will surprise you that much. The characters are easy to like and relate to but not that impressive when action-packed scenes are involved. The setting matches the genre, kudos to that. I am just not sure with life lessons because I don’t think it contains a lot where the readers can reflect to. I was honestly kind of disappointed, not that much but just a bit, I was so excited to read this book once it arrived because of the synopsis but once I was able to finish it, it made me think. Is it okay or not? Anyway, I am still giving it a 4/5 rating for being able to finish it that fast which means that it is gripping and a page-turner.
Thank you, Hachette Australia Books, for providing me a copy in exchange for an honest and fair review.
~JaNnA

Book Review #58: Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer

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Synopsis
In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a higher price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

My Personal Thoughts
Holy Guacamole! I never thought that this series gets better and better with each book! This was screaming awesomesomeness and bubbliness! Cress and Thorne made a good pair, almost! This 3rd installment focused on Cress’story which is kind of similar to Rapunzel (our 3rd fairy tale princess) who has locked up in a tower far away and up in space. She was looked after by a fake wicked mother whom she thought was an ally, just like in the old fairy tale. Thank goodness she also happens to be a hacker which was the sole reason why she became connected to Cinder’s crew. Everything became so twisted here in the book. I almost lost all the hope that the team will be able to survive all the threats and dangers that they’ve encountered. Additional members have joined Cinder’s fight for the crown but unfortunately, some allies got lost. This story is so funny because it showed how Thorne and Cress became close and how the latter continuously falls in love with our hunk. Thorne, on the other hand, had no choice but to suppress his feelings for Cress. Hopefully, in the 4th book, our love birds could finally figure out how to get their shit together. I love this book! It’s getting more fabulous each time! I can’t wait to read and finish the whole series! Winter, here I come. *wink
~JaNnA

Book Review #56: Harry Potter Film Wizardry (Revised and Expanded edition)

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First of all, who am I to do this review? Seriously? Haha! Anyway, I am making this review right now so Potterheads out there will be able to take a glimpse and see what’s inside of this fabulous illustrated book with plenty of add ons. Yes! You’re definitely reading it right, Add ons baby! 💖 First, the outside appearance is just so classic. Red  and gold has always been the picture of class and perfection for me. It was love at first sight, really. The physical appearance of this book is merely enough reason for me to buy it! (rolling my eyes so damn hard right now) 😂 Plus, this is the revised and expanded edition already so it’s a score!😍 Second, the thick material of the paper used is to die for! It is for life! Something that my children can still enjoy and use when they finally decided to become a potterhead in the future. Ofcourse I’ll encourage them to read and like Harry as much as I do. Third, the creative illustrations and informative contents are definitely worth it. It is a must-have for every Harry Potter fan out there. I’ve read it all the way and it made me understand the series more and appreciate the characters so much. Because I am kind person (LOL), I will show you what’s inside so that you can decide for yourself if you also want to grab one. 

Freebies:

1) Hogwarts Acceptance Letter

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2) Borgin and Burkes Auctioneer’s guide

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3) Libatius Borage’s Advanced Potion Making stickers

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4) Honeydukes of Hogsmeade candy stickers

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5) 422nd Quidditch World Cup programme guide

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6) Yule Ball invitation

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7) Print outs of Dolores Umbridge’s declarations

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8) The Marauder’s Map

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9) Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes product guide

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10) Ministry of Magic identity card

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11) Film Wizardry photo album

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Slay, right? I can’t believe that I am using that word. Haha! Anyway, so that’s it! Hope you enjoyed browsing! I know how giddy you are now to score this. Go ahead, grab your copy and enjoy. 😊

~JaNnA

Book Review #57: Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer

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Synopsis
Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner. (www.goodreads.com)

My Personal Thoughts
Scarlet is the 2nd installment of The Lunar Chronicles written by Marissa Meyer. It is a re-telling of the famous childhood story, “The Little Red Riding Hood”. The author did a spectacular job with this piece, and I honestly like it better than Cinder because I somehow gave the 1st book a not-so-giddy kind of review when I read it last year. I left my copy of this series in the Philippines which is why I am only reading them thru my kobo e-reader, and it saddens me because beautiful books are meant to be touched and felt. Anyway, the world building in this series continuous as the story progresses and as Cinder’s crew multiply as well. From China, the setting is now in Europe where Scarlet used to live in a farm with her grandmother and where it all started between her and Wolf (Ze’ve)! OMG! I just love and ship this pair! I like the idea of liking someone at first sight. Ofcourse it’s a cliché’ but what can I do? I am a mama who still believes with butterflies in the stomach and who fantasises about fairy tales, haha! Kidding aside, Scarlet and Wolf are both good for each other because they accept the fact that they can’t be together but did everything to be together (huh?!). I know it’s hard to understand so I suggest that you go ahead and get your hands on this series so you can catch up with me. I loved every chapter and I adored every character! A Fairytale re-telling that takes a reader into a magical world but still wants us to think how it can be related to a real life scenario. Even though it’s full of cyborgs, wolves, and other creatures, you can still feel the authenticity of the character’s feelings of love, friendship, and principles. I read this in 1 day and a half and I immediately delved on to the 3rd book which is Cress (Rapunzel), the author has a brilliant and creative mind that was able to incorporate all the fairy tale princesses into one amazing world which brought us a breathtaking story to indulge on to. I just can’t move on, not yet, it’s too good and precious. Five fabulous stars for this. Highly recommended for readers of all ages. Bravo! 👌👍👏
~JaNnA

Book Review #50: The Rose Society (The Young Elites #2) by Marie Lu

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Title: The Rose Society
Author: Marie Lu
Pages: 396
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Format: Ebook
Date of Publication: October 13, 2015
Publishing House: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Goodreads Rating: 4.14
My Personal Rating: 3 out of 5
Synopsis
Once upon a time, a girl had a father, a prince, a society of friends. Then they betrayed her, and she destroyed them all.

Adelina Amouteru’s heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she flees Kenettra with her sister to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies. Her goal: to strike down the Inquisition Axis, the white-cloaked soldiers who nearly killed her.

But Adelina is no heroine. Her powers, fed only by fear and hate, have started to grow beyond her control. She does not trust her newfound Elite friends. Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition, wants her dead. And her former friends, Raffaele and the Dagger Society, want to stop her thirst for vengeance. Adelina struggles to cling to the good within her. But how can someone be good when her very existence depends on darkness?

Bestselling author Marie Lu delivers another heart-pounding adventure in this exhilarating sequel to The Young Elites. (www.goodreads.com)

My Personal Thoughts
I know most readers out there loved and enjoyed this series. Is it just me? Or some of you out there are also hesitant to give this book a perfect rating? I don’t know why or how or what the heck happened to me. I got bored, detached, and I did not enjoy this book. I also did not like the first one. What is wrong with me? The setting is fine, it is brilliant. I like the world building in this series, it is actually one of the things that I’ll give it a perfect score. But the characters, the plot, the story, ugh! Please don’t get mad at me for not being hooked or ecstatic about the existence of this series. Don’t get me wrong, I freaking adored Marie Lu’s Legend Trilogy! It is my favorite series (one of my faves of course, lol) and  I loved each and every chapter of this! It was perfect! But for this one? I don’t find Adelina promising. I don’t like her character. She is trying so hard to be a badass chick but sorry it didn’t work out for me! I still see her as some pathetic character. Enzo, on the other hand, is my favourite character in this story. The antagonistic aura of Adelina is just so annoying. The story is slow paced and it took me a couple of weeks to finish it. Maybe it is not for me. I have nothing against those readers who enjoyed it, we all have different preferences and perspectives when it comes to fantasy themed novels. Will I read the 3rd book? Yes. Of course. I still want to give it a try. Maybe the 3rd one will work for me and maybe this time Adelina might surprise me. ~JaNnA

Book Review #46: The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

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Title: The Sun is Also a Star
Author: Nicola Yoon
Pages: 384
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Format: Ebook
Date of Publication: November 01, 2016
ASIN: B01DRXCPW2
Publishing House: Delacorte Press
Goodreads Rating: 4.21
My Personal Rating: 5 out of 5
SYNOPSIS
Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.
Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.
The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?
(Credit to http://www.goodreads.com)
MY PERSONAL THOUGHTS
Brilliant and captivating!
Wow! Just, WOW! The author gave me a different perspective when it comes to young adult (YA) contemporary stories! At this point in life, I’m not ashamed to admit that YA books are not my cup of tea, ugh! But, this one definitely made an exception! I enjoyed it a lot. Its simplicity and innocence made it more appealing and entertaining for me. I hate too-good-to-be-true and shallow stories that’s why I rarely read these kind of books (oopppsss.. sorry!). Oh well, I can always adjust and broaden my preferences anyway.
The setting took place in the USA where people in my home-land aspires and dreams of travelling one day. Who doesn’t want to anyway? I personally dream of being able to take a photo at the famous Golden Gate Bridge or at the Statue of Liberty and have a fun-filled day in Disneyland! This is the perfect setting for a one-day-old romance! Oh how i truly adore the simplicity and directness (obviously!) And the scenarios are not unusual. They are undeniably realistic. They tend to occur in our everyday lives and many undocumented people are really residing there. Not by choice, it’s just… it happens.
The characters are funny, cute and very lovable! The Asian-meets-the-Jamaican is so cute! It’s rare for me to enjoy books where the couple came from different heritage and cultural background so I really like the way the author made it multicultural and unbiased. It’s a plus point. Kudos!
Honestly, the twist is not surprising. The ending is actually predictable but the journey towards the ending is worth it. It’s like the saying “It’s not the destination that matters, it’s the journey!” So, yes! I love how a YA contemporary story brought butterflies in my stomach and taught me a lot of life lessons that I have chosen to neglect before. This book contains a lot of things that will make you realize how good life is; and that plenty of things that are happening around us are mainly brought by Science
Lessons that this book taught me:
1) Fate is real. So damn REAL.
2) Family should always be prioritised.
3) No matter what your cultural background is, there are people out there who will accept you for who you are and what you can offer.
This story deserves my precious 5 stars.
It is highly recommended for all type of readers.
~JaNnA~
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