Book Review #87: Mirror Mirror by Cara Delevingne & Rowan Coleman (Review Copy from Hachette Australia)

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Title: Mirror Mirror
Author: Cara Delevingne, Rowan Coleman
Pages: 368
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT
Format: Trade Paperback
Date Published: October 03, 2017
Publishing House: Hachette Australia
Goodreads Rating: 3.75
Personal Rating: 5 / 5

Friend. Lover. Victim. Betrayer. When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old friends Red, Leo, Naiomi, and Rose are like anyone their age: figuring out who they are and trying to navigate the minefield of school and relationships. Life isn’t perfect, but they’re united by their love of music and excited about what the future holds for their band.

That is until Nai dies in tragic circumstances, leaving behind only one word. ‘Sorry’.
What awful truth was she hiding? What dark secret was lurking behind her seemingly sunny persona? And how did Red, the self-styled protector of the group, fail to spot the warning signs?

While Rose turns to wild partying and Leo is shrouded by dark moods, Red sets out to uncover the truth and finds out what – or perhaps who – was responsible for Naomi’s death.

It’s a journey that will cause Red’s world to crumble, exposing the dark and dangerous truth behind the fragile surface of their existence. Nothing will ever be the same again because once a mirror is shattered, it can’t be fixed. [Goodreads]

My Personal Thoughts

Cara Delevingne surprised me with her debut novel because she covered plenty of common issues in our society today especially those involving the young people. The transition phase from being a young adult to a full-grown person is one of the most crucial stages in a person’s life. It is somewhat tricky and tempting. It is very challenging and undeniably hard to deal with. I personally experienced some of these issues that were included in the story and I also struggled a lot. The setting perfectly matches the story because it took place in a classic high school set up where different students with the different type of personalities go to. Some of them are rich, others are poor, and there are those who belong to the middle-class group. It is a school with issues, secrets, and an image to portray. Previous students have gone missing, attempted suicide, or even went psycho. I like how things were described in the story. The characters are all easy to relate to because, at some point in our lives, we all underwent the same scenarios and circumstances when we were young. Red, Rose, Leo, and Naomi are friends and band mates and they have different issues and battles in life. Red is the narrator (I just find the first-person point of view convenient) in the story and I love how this person tricked me. I actually did not see that one coming! Rose is the star; she is beautiful, famous, and everyone loves to be with her or be her. Despite all of these, she has secrets that no one else knows but Red. Leo is the typical boy next door kind of guy, and obviously, every girl is head over heels about him. He is scary because of the image that he has been putting up all along but deep inside, Leo is a kind-hearted boy who’s afraid of his own brother (who happens to be a troubled person) and the skeletons in his closet. And Naomi… everything revolved around her because she went missing and after quite some time people found her almost dead body in a river without a hint as to who did that horrible thing to her. All her friends were determined to unravel the real story behind her disappearance and figure out all the clues that are suddenly appearing every day. The twist is amazing. I did not expect that one coming! Although with the antagonist, I already predicted that one right from the start! I always have this power to guess even from the first few chapters as to who is the real villain in a story. But still, I enjoyed the experience of finding out for myself and playing detective with the gang. The story has a lot of lessons for its readers. I admire the author for coming up with a masterpiece that will show how young adults struggle with their lives because it is really damn hard when you are transitioning from being the one who’s been looking after to someone who needs to stand on his own and fight his everyday battles. There are three points that I find interesting here: 1) the story is LGBT friendly. I like how Cara executed this very well. I felt the struggle of this particular character, I cried and laughed with this person and I understood how hard it was to be in this person’s situation. I salute this character for being brave and not easily intimidated. 2) The importance of loyalty and friendship. I’ve lost plenty of so-called friends along the way. I’ve met a lot of people who showed me kindness and I must admit that I enjoyed their company so much that I even considered them to be my “friends”, but… people change. People’s priorities and likes also develop and we may admit it or not but people tend to mature and move on. Once in our lives, those people made us feel complete and happy. I still respect them but I don’t really have the energy to save a relationship wherein the other party is not willing to reconnect or compromise. So yes, I envy the characters friendship because their bond was able to withstand all the storms and hardships that came along their way. 3) The value of family. This is the most important lesson that I was able to contemplate here in the story. No matter how fucked up we are. No matter what shit we said or did. No matter how hard-headed and prideful we are, our family will always be there to love us and support us. Because at the end of the day, our family is our only rock! Just like how the saying goes, BLOOD IS THICKER THAN WATER, and I’ve personally proven this repetitively in my 29 years of existence.

Thank you so much, Hachette Australia, for sending me Cara Delevingne’s newly released debut novel in exchange for promotion and review. I love it and I highly recommend it not just to young readers but for readers of all ages who also have a number of questions in life. You are not alone.

Thank you for reading my review.

Setting: ☆☆☆/5
Characters: ☆☆☆☆☆/5
Plot: ☆☆☆☆/5
Lessons: ☆☆☆☆☆/5
Cover: ☆☆☆☆☆/5
Overall Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆/5

~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 #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 #72: Berlin Syndrome by Melanie Joosten (Advance Reader Copy from Scribe Publications)

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Title: Berlin Syndrome
Author: Melanie Joosten
Pages: 256
Genre: Mystery, Psychological Thriller
Format: Paperback, Film Tie-In edition
Date Published: January 12, 2017
Publishing House: Scribe Publications
Goodreads Rating: 3.42
Personal Rating: 4/5
Synopsis
2006, Berlin. The once-divided city still holds its share of secrets.

One afternoon, near the tourist trap of Checkpoint Charlie, Clare meets Andi. He’s a native Berliner and English teacher; she’s an architectural photographer who has taken leave from her job in Australia to travel through Eastern Europe. There is an instant attraction, and when Andi invites her to stay, Clare thinks she may finally have found somewhere to call home.

But as the days pass and the walls of Andi’s apartment close in, Clare begins to wonder if it’s really love that Andi is after … or something more sinister.

This closely observed and gripping psychological thriller shifts between Andi’s and Clare’s perspectives, revealing the power of obsession, the fluidity of truth, and the kaleidoscopic nature of human relationships. Berlin Syndrome is a startling debut from a talented new writer. [Goodreads]

My Personal Thoughts

WHOA! This story made me cringe a couple of times!I’ve heard and read mixed reviews about it especially from people who compared the story with the movie adaptation last February 2017. They said that the movie was boring, some said it was intense and gripping, while a majority said it was different from the book. I have no idea, honestly, I requested for a copy because of its synopsis. It is so intriguing, I remembered the time when I finished reading Stolen by Lucy Christopher. It was kind of similar to this story because both have victims slash prisoners and they both sort of fell in love with their captor although in this story the prisoner is also messed up and a little fucked up. This was so INTENSE. I must admit that there were moments of boredom but as the story progresses, the author made me like the flow even more! I thought it will just be another case of stockholm syndrome where the victim felt attached to the captor. I was wrong, the main character named Clare is also twisted and sick. She is as crazy as the antagonist and it made the story way better compared to previous novels published with the same plot twist. I admire the author for creating a masterpiece that talked about the effect when someone leaves a person during his vulnerable age  and what might happen to his interaction with other people and his way of life as well. I was in deep awe because the female character became accustomed to being trapped in an apartment far away from anyone who can hear or notice her absence. The male antagonist on the other hand is just so freaking crazy but every move and decision that he made sort of convinced me that he was doing the right thing. I can’t believe that I even felt sorry for him.  Frankly, the cover is not stunning because it is a movie tie-in edition and it looks boring. Probably I will give the movie a chance and find it out for myself how it goes.

Overall, the story is a must read for readers who enjoy dark and twisted stories. I liked it! It may be slow-paced during the first part but it definitely caught my interest! Kudos! I am giving it a four out of five for a beautiful setting (Berlin), for messy characters, for an impressive writing style, and for mind-boggling life lessons that it wants to convey to its readers. I really do appreciate novels like this one and I am definitely recommending it.

~JaNnA

Book Review #67: October is the Coldest Month by Christoffer Carlsson (Advance Reader Copy from Scribe Publications)

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Title: October is the Coldest Month
Author: Christoffer Carlsson
Pages: 192
Genre: Young Adult, Crime, Mystery
Format: Paperback (ARC)
Date Published: June 08, 2017
Publishing House: Scribe Publications
GoodReads Rating: 3.3
Personal Rating: 4/5

Synopsis

Vega Gillberg is 16 years old when the police come knocking on the door looking for her older brother, Jakob.

Vega hasn’t heard from him in days, but she has to find him before the police do. Jakob was involved in a terrible crime. What no one knows is that Vega was there, too.

In the rural Swedish community where the Gillbergs live, life is tough, the people are even tougher, and old feuds never die. As Vega sets out to find her brother, she must survive a series of threatening encounters in a deadly landscape. As if that wasn’t enough, she’s dealing with the longing she feels for a boy that she has sworn to forget, and the mixed-up feelings she has for her brother’s best friend.

During a damp, raw week in October, the door to the adult world swings open, and Vega realises that once she has crossed the threshold there is no turning back.

My Personal Thoughts

The story is short but it was able to send me the message that it wants to convey. I was cringing the whole time! It was a mixture of crime, sex, and everything in between. I love how simply it was written without omitting the meaning of the book. The setting it an old suburb where it is possible that murdered people can be shoved and forgotten in an instant. The character is young but not innocent! I feel sad for Vega because at a very young age she felt and experienced all those terrible things. The need for sex, being an accessory to a crime and falling in love with someone who treated you like shit. Everything will still go back to basic, LOVE. It was because of love that Vega followed his brother, it was love that their uncle Dan got involved with Diana, it was love that Diana did everything for her son Tom, it was love that Tom did what has to be done, and it was love that Vega was able to do stupid and wreckless things for Tom. 198 pages and yet a lot of things took place. I have nothing against that there was no solution about the crime, it just shows how realistic this book is! Not all crimes were being solved in reality and the people involved just have to live with it for the rest of their miserable lives. I like this book! It is fast-paced and a fast-read. The twist is predictable but I just love how perfect it went. The ending is not a cliff hanger although it went nowhere, it’s not amazing for some readers but I like it. It’s just one of those moments in live where there’s no closure, things happen and that’s it. Just bear with it and live with it. I dont like Vega, the character is twisted and pathetic and not a good influence for young readers. It may be a YA story but I find it suitable for mature readers. I’ll giving it a 4/5 for being realistic.

~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 #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