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 #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

Book Review #62: Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #3) by Jenny Han

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“Disappointment is good for kids; it prepares them for the real world, where it’s not all about them and their feelings.”

Synopsis

Lara Jean’s letter-writing days aren’t over in this surprise follow-up to the New York Times bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.

But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

My Personal Thoughts

Young adult contemporary books are really not my cup of tea since I started my reading habit, but Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series definitely made an exception. OMG! I don’t know how to start drafting my book review about the 3rd and final installment of Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky’s young love story. It is evidently innocent, pure, and overflowing with emotions! Just like what I mentioned a year ago when I read the 1st two books via audiobook during Valentine’s Day. I know, it’s so cheesy and everything but a woman can only fangirl and reminisce, right? The characters both matured and evolved into more fabulous and gorgeous beings! Lara Jean is someone to be proud of because she kept her thoughts and principles about love and sex until the very end. Peter, on the other hand, is a young man who changed a lot because of Lara Jean. He transformed into a real gentleman compared to the naughty and easy-go-lucky dude he was from the first 2 novels. I am so happy because this book is very inspiring and it contains a lot of life lessons which are suitable for young readers especially to those people nowadays who think that young love is not or will never be a real love. I am so proud of Lara Jean’s conviction and Peter’ not-taking-an-advantage attitude. Basically, this story is just so light and cute and realistic. Many young readers can relate and reflect about their own situation and views in life. The story is fast-paced which I was able to read and finish for 6 hours. The writing style has always been my favourite part, the author writes from the heart and it is evident in my e-reader because I highlighted plenty of inspiring lines and scenes. Jenny Han, Stephanie Perkins, and Nicola Yoon are my favourite YA contemporary writers at the moment and I just admire the way they write books that will make a person swoon. I am so happy that I immediately started this book after I did a whole day of reviewing for my upcoming final exam. It was worth it. Family, friendship, life, and love lessons are all here! I can’t think of anything negative to say, maybe the simplicity which I think New Adult story lovers would find boring but not with a 29 y/o mom of two like me who still enjoys reading stories that gives me butterflies in the stomach. It is highly recommended for readers of all ages. Five amazing stars for Jenny Han and cheers to Lara Jean and Peter K’s refreshing love story.

~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

Movie Review #1: Split (2017)

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Knate and I felt the need to watch any movie yesterday since he noticed that I am currently under a lot of pressure and stress because of UNI. And because it’s Tuesday, we scored our tickets for only $13 per person at Hoyts Cinema here in Belconnen. So we’ve decided to try a different genre this time contrary to what we always watch which are action and fantasy themed films. Although in my case, I’m used to reading books that are psychological/thriller/horror and I always enjoy exploring the different mental health illnesses that are currently existing. It’s hard to try a different one from your cup of tea because movies might make or break any viewer’s enthusiasm towards a certain theme. It was a consensual decision anyway, LOL, we’ve picked up Split.

Synopsis

While the mental divisions of those with dissociative identity disorder have long fascinated and eluded science, it is believed that some can also manifest unique physical attributes for each personality, a cognitive and physiological prism within a single being. Though Kevin has evidenced 23 personalities to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher, there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others. Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the willful, observant Casey, Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him – as well as everyone around him – as the walls between his compartments shatter apart.

My Personal Thoughts

I undeniably loved and adored it! I’m pretty sure that my husband enjoyed it as well. The Dissociative Identity Disorder case was executed and given justice very well. I love how the team explored and dissected the different manifestations and symptoms of this mental health problem and the actor who portrayed 23 personalities did a very great job! The acting was superb and very realistic. The flow of the story is very well-done! The major twists and turn out of events brought me mini heart attacks and I really really commend the way this movie opened the eyes of its viewers. It basically did not just tackle “DID” but it also presented how a traumatic childhood can affect a person’a life not just for a while but for a lifetime. This is so far one of the best psych thriller that I’ve watched because usually majority of movies like these are either boring or does not have a stable plot line. If there’s one thing that I kind of disliked about it is the way the last identity evolved. I don’t know. I just find it odd and somewhat creepy. Anyway, I still can’t deny the fact that this film was screaming awesomeness!

Rating:

Characters: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

Plot: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5/5

Social Awareness: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5/5

Overall: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5/5

~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 #49: My Husband’s Son by Debborah O’Connor

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Title: My Husband’s Son
Author: Deborah O’Connor
Pages: 352
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Format: Large Paperback
Date of Publication: June 16, 2016
Publishing House: Bonnier Zaffre
Goodreads Rating: 3.61
My Personal Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis
Heidi and Jason aren’t like other couples.
Six years ago, Heidi’s daughter was murdered. A year later, Jason’s son Barney disappeared. Their shared loss brought them together.
By chance, Heidi meets a boy she’s certain is Barney.
But Jason is equally convinced it’s not him.
Is Heidi mad? Or is Jason hiding something? And can their fragile marriage survive Heidi’s newfound quest for the truth… (www.goodreds.com)
My Personal Thoughts
Deborah O’Connor’s debut novel is beautifully written and executed! Everything that I anticipated and hoped for in a thriller/crime/mystery story is present. It is, indeed, a gripping and mind-boggling roller coaster ride! At first, I felt somewhat frustrated and disappointed because of its slow pacing. As I flip and turn the pages, I found myself being hooked and very eager to unravel the secrets and mysteries that the characters are trying to conceal. The book’s synopsis is very intriguing and that’s the exact same reason why I personally requested for a copy of this masterpiece to read and review here on my blog.
Heidi and Jason proved that misery loves company. They are bound together by their individual loss and suffering. Heidi’s daughter was murdered a couple of years ago while Jason’s son was suspected of being kidnapped; he never gave up searching for his kid. Grief has always been a part of their relationship, they are happy together but there will always be that part of them that longs for their departed and missing loved ones. One day, Heidi bumped into a little boy whom she strongly believed is Jason’s son. She did everything she can to stalk the boy and his family. She even risked her own life just to find out the true personality of the kid. Unfortunately, Jason did not believe her. He is so firm that the boy is not his son and that his wife is just hallucinating.
The setting is fine. It is well-suited for a story like this which involves crime. It is a simple neighbourhood where people are accustomed to keeping secrets and pretending that things are normal. The characters are promising. Heidi is very admirable because of her perseverance and devotion towards Jason. The husband, on the other hand, is lousy, frustrating, and such a waste of time. I don’t want to get into too much detail because I might spoil the most important part and the twist of the story. I was mind-fucked! Yes, I expected those turn out of events but I was surprised with Heidi’s decision in the end. I am impressed! I like it because it’s not every day that I get to read books where the ending will shock you. It became fast-paced as the story went by; I think I managed to finish it in two days. It is pretty intense especially when Heidi is playing detective-ish.
What I liked most about this story is that it contains a lot of lessons. First, no matter how much you think you know someone so well; there will always be secrets between the two of you. Second, frustration and sadness can ruin a lovely and fruitful relationship among two people. And lastly, we just have to move on no matter how badly we are hurt. We have to move forward and still be the best person for those who are still here for us.
Thank you, Allen and Unwin Australia, for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.
~JaNnA