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 #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 #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 #71: Frostblood (Frostblood Saga #1) by Elly Blake (Advance Reader Copy from Hachette Australia)

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Title: Frostblood
Author: Elly Blake
Pages: 320
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Date Published: January 12, 2017
Publishing House: Hodder and Stoughton
Goodreads Rating: 3.86
Personal Rating: 3/5
Synopsis

The frost king will burn.

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.

Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating—yet irresistible—Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her—and from the icy young man she has come to love.

My Personal Thoughts
Elly Blake’s first installment in the Frostblood series is gripping and a real page-turner. I liked the story and the characters, including the plot twists and everything about it, but I just have a few rants. First, while reading the story, I thought I am inside Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series because it is somewhat similar to having a King’s champion, and where the antagonist sort of fell in love-ish with the badass female protagonist. I dunno, I thought it was Celaena Sardothien or something. Young adult fantasy novels nowadays are all the same, and it’s not cool. There should be a distinction, a wow factor, a genuine thing where your novel will stand out and not be mistaken as a copycat. But I am not saying that this one is, it’s just that some similarities are present with other YA novels today. Second, things just turned out all in favour of Ruby and I find it annoying. Yes, during the first chapters she was belittled and tortured and what happened to her mother was horrible but as the story progresses you will notice that everything seems to be falling into place for her, love interest, allies, savior, it is so trying hard to please the readers which in return is not appealing for me. Third, that’s it? The ending is already a conclusion. You will not look forward to the next book because everything’s already there and the protagonist was defeated without blood and sweat. Oh come on, you can’t expect an evil king to just meet his end that easily. Anyway, despite all my rants I still enjoyed reading this fantasy novel and I was impressed with the idea of ice and fire together in a series. I like the first person narration (which is obviously my personal preference). The twist is surprising, I honestly did not see that one coming although some parts were really predictable like when the Mad King had a thing for Ruby or like when the snobbish Arcus finally gave in and admitted his feelings for Ruby. It’s just all the same and pretty common. But I like Ruby and Arcus’ pair, I ship them. Arcus is swoon-worthy despite his physical appearance, I like how badass his grand entrance was during the last match and when all the secrets were unraveled. Overall, I recommend this series for fantasy readers and I’m giving it a 3/5 rating.
Thank you, Hachette, for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

~JaNnA

Book Review #69: Opposition (Lux #5) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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Title: Opposition (Lux #5)
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Pages: 533
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Date Published: August 05, 2014
Publishing House: Entangled Teen
GoodReads Rating: 4.44
Personal Rating: 4/5

Synopsis

Katy knows the world changed the night the Luxen came.

She can’t believe Daemon welcomed his race or stood by as his kind threatened to obliterate every last human and hybrid on Earth. But the lines between good and bad have blurred, and love has become an emotion that could destroy her—could destroy them all.

Daemon will do anything to save those he loves, even if it means betrayal.

They must team with an unlikely enemy if there is any chance of surviving the invasion. But when it quickly becomes impossible to tell friend from foe, and the world is crumbling around them, they may lose everything— even what they cherish most—to ensure the survival of their friends…and mankind.

War has come to Earth. And no matter the outcome, the future will never be the same for those left standing.

My Personal Thoughts

Holy holy holy fudge! Reading the fifth and final installment gave me separation anxiety! I want to know what will happen to Daemon and Katy but at the same time, I was not ready to let go of them and the rest of the crew. No! I can’t! I will surely miss the hottest alien ever. The ending is not that bad, I liked the way it ended. Just the way I wanted it to conclude. Things went pretty fine for the couple although I felt sorry for Katy and with everyone that she lost along the way. The crew has been amazing and awesome as always! I just hate the way Dee acted out during the first couple of chapters and her attitude was annoying! Daemon, on the other hand, has always been cheesy and romantic and I almost died, again, because of his swoon-worthy characteristics! Gosh! Katy should have her hair trimmed or tied because it’s so freaking loooonggggg! Like really long! Even though she annoyed me most of the time for being a stubborn brat, I envied the way Daemon unconditionally loves her. It was a really nice ending, not much of an action-packed ending but things went out just right and everyone was happy. Thank you JLA for creating a wonderful alien crew. I love all the characters despite Katy ‘s pain in the ass traits. I am looking forward to reading the novella. I just hope that there was a novella dedicated for their wedding. Nonetheless, everything ended smoothly and just fine. The alternating narration between Katy and Daemon is one of my favorites. The story was fast-paced. I was also able to read it in 2 days. I don’t have any rant about the finale, I was just hoping that it wasn’t that horrible for Katy. I don’t know, maybe it should have ended in a different way, or not? Anyway, I highly recommend this series to people who likes to read young adult science fiction in a contemporary setting where the main character is a hot male alien who loves dearly and sincerely! 💜

~JaNnA

Book Review #66: Origin (Lux #4) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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Title: Origin (Lux #4)
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Pages: 418
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Format: Digital Copy
Date Published: August 27, 2013
Publishing House: Entangled
GoodReads Rating: 4.44
Personal Rating: 4/5

Synopsis

Daemon will do anything to get Katy back.

After the successful but disastrous raid on Mount Weather, he’s facing the impossible. Katy is gone. Taken. Everything becomes about finding her. Taking out anyone who stands in his way? Done. Burning down the whole world to save her? Gladly. Exposing his alien race to the world? With pleasure.

All Katy can do is survive.

Surrounded by enemies, the only way she can come out of this is to adapt. After all, there are sides of Daedalus that don’t seem entirely crazy, but the group’s goals are frightening and the truths they speak even more disturbing. Who are the real bad guys? Daedalus? Mankind? Or the Luxen?

Together, they can face anything.

But the most dangerous foe has been there all along, and when the truths are exposed and the lies come crumbling down, which side will Daemon and Katy be standing on?

And will they even be together?

My Personal Thoughts

Wow! Finally! My long wait was over! Daemon Black never ceases to bring me butterflies in the stomach, ugh! I just can’t! Honestly, I still don’t like the flow of the story (it’s just going nowhere), just like with the 3rd book, but the OTP (one true pair) is just so awesome and perfect for each other. I can’t count the number of times I swoon and screamed because they just make a real great pair. The setting is getting weirder and weirder as well now because they are on the run, away from their enemies and they spent most of their time in the DOD’s (Daedalus) camp where they were held prisoners and experiments were being done. Katy is always so annoying just like in the previous books but I love how she made good choices here in the 4th installment. Daemon’s determination and perseverance is just admirable because he could have run away and never looked back but he just can’t because Katy is all that matters. This is highly entertaining and funny. Very light and cute and the characters were able to maintain their bubbliness despite all difficulties. The sad part is the betrayal of a family member, I was caught off guard and did not realise that he was a threat. Anyway, the crew is getting smaller and it saddens me because in the 5th book an all out war is screaming and I don’t know how they will be able to withstand it. Dee and Katy’s friendship was restored and it made me giddy because BFFs will always rule. Hoes over Bros like what they say. I am not yet ready for this to end. Four out five. ^_^

~JaNnA

Book Review #63: Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) by Sarah J. Maas

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“Even when this world is a forgotten whisper of dust between the stars, I will always love you.”

SYNOPSIS

KINGDOMS WILL COLLIDE.

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius as war looms on the horizon. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don’t.

With her heart sworn to the warrior-prince by her side, and her fealty pledged to the people she is determined to save, Aelin will delve into the depths of her power to protect those she loves. But as monsters emerge from the horrors of the past, and dark forces become poised to claim her world, the only chance for salvation will lie in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

In this breathtaking fifth installment of the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series, Aelin will have to choose what—and who—to sacrifice if she’s to keep the world of Erilea from breaking apart.

MY PERSONAL THOUGHTS

Ugh! First and foremost, it is so damn hard to draft a review about the 5th book of the Throne of Glass series because: 1) It is GOOD!, and, 2) It is so freaking GOOD. PERIOD. whew! I was literally left speechless, pulseless, and breathless (LMAO!) after finishing this AMAZING story! Everything that I ever wished and hoped for was there! Like ALL OF THEM! The “one true pair” (OTP) that I have been shipping since 2 or 3 books ago definitely nailed it this time! (Believe me when I say that they NAILED it. *rolling my eyes so damn hard*) I can’t ask for anything more! The characters are increasing in number (beginning to look like a crew now!^_^) and it is so refreshing to come across some new kick ass roles and dive into their worlds. I just hope (like what I have always hoped for since the beginning!) that it was in the first person narration so I could understand them more deeply. But I am not complaining, though! Never! The writing style has always been superb, SJM (Sarah J. Maas) always see to it that readers will get hooked. Although I honestly find the books’ thickness and number of pages challenging. I was not able to finish it right away because it is so overwhelming! I guess I was able to read the book for 3 or 4 days given the number of times that I have to close it for a while because the scenes are too intense and creepy! Oh, dear! I am definitely fangirling right now! Celaena’s badass attitude and arrogance were never a problem for me, unlike with the other readers and reviews that I read, I honestly think that it made the story more entertaining and fun! The LGBT issue that some reviewers mentioned saying SJM is fixated with flawless characters or the author was not writing in a multicultural way, well, I disagree! SJM obviously made her book LGBT friendly and it is also multicultural so I don’t get the fact that others are whining about the characters (I can’t get into details because I might spoil you, sorry!). They are obviously from different parts of the world. Lastly, there were rants about the book being somewhat similar to ACOMAF (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2). I kind of agree with that, just because (SPOILER ALERT) Rhysand and Feyre also got married in the 2nd installment of the ACOTAR series and Aelin and Rowan did the same thing here. Maybe that’s the only similarity and people should not make a big fuss out of it. The world building has always been fabulous and commendable, the author really did a very spectacular job with that. The action scenes are all gripping and mind-boggling and that’s exactly what I want! Perfect! I loved each and every part of this book, and it’s just frustrating that Chaol was just mentioned 3 or 4 times all throughout the book. But all these “ships” are lovely! There’s plenty of love stories here and I am just so crazy about it!I looooove and ship them all!  Yay! It is highly recommended, ofcourse, especially for matured fantasy readers. Five million amazing stars! 💖

~JaNnA