Book Review #65: My Name is Victoria by Lucy Worsley

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Title: My Name is Victoria
Author: Lucy Worsley
Pages: 372
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Format: Paperback (Advance Reader Copy)
Date Published: March 09, 2017
Publishing House: Bloomsbury Publishing
GoodReads Rating: 3.87
Personal Rating: 5/5

Synopsis

‘You are my sister now,’ Victoria said, quietly and solemnly. ‘Never forget it. I love you like a sister, and you are my only friend in all the world.’ Miss V. Conroy is good at keeping secrets. She likes to sit as quiet as a mouse, neat and discreet. But when her father sends her to Kensington Palace to become the companion to Princess Victoria, Miss V soon finds that she can no longer remain in the shadows. Miss V’s father has devised a strict set of rules for the young princess, which he calls the Kensington System. It governs her behaviour and keeps her locked away from the world. He says it is for the princess’s safety, but Victoria herself is convinced that it is to keep her lonely and unhappy. Torn between loyalty to her father and her growing friendship with the wilful and passionate Victoria, Miss V has a decision to make: to continue in silence or to speak out. By turns thrilling, dramatic and touching, this is the story of Queen Victoria’s childhood as you’ve never heard it before.

My Personal Thoughts

This book is epic, classy, and very informative. I just love how the author made it look like a cute young adult story but the truth is it talks about history and royalty. The two main characters are both easy to like and understand. One bratty, cute, and moody princess named Victoria which is actually the late Queen Victoria when she was young and careless. And the other girl is Miss V (who also happens to be named Victoria as well), the daughter of the princess’ comptroller. I like the girls’ friendship because it is so pure and innocent, no drama and everything. Miss V is so selfless and devoted to the princess which is what I admired about her the most. The story obviously took place in England where the royal family resides and it is just so awesome to be able to travel back in time and revisit the past thru a modern-ish story like this. The author is a historian and she did a great and awesome job with this novel. It is so entertaining and fun! I like every scene and chapter. I did not get bored. I was able to finish the story in two days and there is just something about it that you won’t be able to set it aside. The antagonist on the other hand who is Miss V’s father, Sir John Conroy, is a manipulator and a total control freak. He symbolizes the image of men ages ago who manipulates women and who constantly wants to be on top and with power. I feel sorry for Princess Victoria’s mother, the Duchess, because Sir John used her to his advantage. Miss V’s mother is also a victim of the man’s greediness. The story is an eye opener, it will make a reader realise what life was a couple of decades ago. How money and wealth rules and how powerless princes and princesses are when choosing who to marry. Overall the story is screaming perfection. I like the first person narration and the small and simple images drawn every chapter. It is a very cute book, the cover is breathtaking and an auto-buy! Thank you, Bloomsbury, for sending me a copy to review and promote. Highly recommended for readers of all ages. Bravo, Miss Worsley, this was incredibly written. 😊

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 #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 #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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Book Review #40 : Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

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Title: Stealing Snow
Author: Danielle Paige
Series: Stealing Snow, #1
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback (Uncorrected Proof)
ISBN13: 9781681190761
Genre: Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Date of Publication: October 3, 2016
Publishing House: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Date Read: September 27, 2016
Personal Rating: 4 out of 5

“Within you lies a great gift. You can control winter and have dominance over frost, over ice and snow.”

Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige is a retelling of the famous fairytale, The Snow Queen, written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1844. This story is about the continuous battle of good and evil. I think both stories resembled just on specific parts: the mirror, Kay (the character’s name here is Kai), Gerda, and the power of the snow queen. But mostly, they are totally different. I received my copy from Bloomsbury Australia in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. This will come out this October 3 so watch out for it and don’t forget to include it on your TBR list.

Synopsis

“First kisses sometimes wake slumbering princesses, undo spells, and spark happily ever afters.”

Mine broke Bale.

Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent her life locked in Whittaker Psychiatric—but she isn’t crazy. And that’s not the worst of it. Her very first kiss proves anything but innocent…when Bale, her only love, turns violent.

Despite Snow knowing that Bale would never truly hurt her, he is taken away—dashing her last hope for any sort of future in the mental ward she calls home. With nowhere else to turn, Snow finds herself drawn to a strange new orderly who whispers secrets in the night about a mysterious past and a kingdom that’s hers for the taking—if only she can find her way past the iron gates to the Tree that has been haunting her dreams.

Beyond the Tree lies Algid, a land far away from the real world, frozen by a ruthless king. And there too await the River Witch, a village boy named Kai, the charming thief Jagger, and a prophecy that Snow will save them all.

(Credit to http://www.goodreads.com)

My Personal Thoughts

First, I really got confused with the places. The story started in a contemporary setting which is pretty fine with me. The first part mostly took place in a mental asylum where Snow was admitted for almost a decade because of an incident that almost took her childhood friend’s life. After being comfortable with this setup, I was suddenly brought into a different world which is called Algid. And I don’t freaking know where exactly it is. Is it under the sea? Or is it deep within the forest? Or maybe it is somewhere over the rainbow? All I know is that Snow saw it in the mirror behind THE TREE. While being at Algid for a couple of days, Snow was suddenly in another place which drove me crazy, and with another group of people! How the hell did that happen? Like seriously? Ugh! I was confused as fvck because the places are just too much to take in. Hahaha! You cannot just take the character from one place to another without a proper transition. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the story; it’s just that I was really left puzzled on certain scenarios.

Snow. Ugh! Snow is a teenage girl with a loyalty problem. LOL. I don’t like the idea that she falls for every boy that she meets. There are three potential book boyfriends in the story, and I don’t know who exactly the author is shipping. Just when I was about to believe that this particular boy is swoon-worthy, another boy will appear in the picture, and Snow will instantly fall head over heels with him. Crap! So much about it, her character is okay. She is strong, obviously, but she doesn’t know how to use her powers properly. It’s just stupid to go on a suicide rescue mission. Despite knowing all the secrets about your real identity, your main agenda is still to save your dream boy and go back to the mental institution where you both belonged. That’s crazy. Her cluelessness also bothered me. I hope the next book will be better for Snow. I hope that she will have a transformation from a flirtatious slash clueless being into a stronger and wiser one. That last chapter is very promising, though. I will not talk about any male character because there are three of them. If I describe their relationship to Snow, it will basically blow up your reading experience.

The writing style is good. I enjoyed my reading time. It is slow-paced during the first half of the book then it became fast abruptly (too fast) during the last chapters. It is pretty gripping, I noticed that I continuously read it for three or four days and I found myself being curious and hooked with the story. I really do love fairy tale retellings so I think I might be a little bias here. Hahaha! The only thing that I adore about this story is how the author introduced a lot of mind-blowing twists! I just can’t handle all of them! I am not sure if for some readers those turn out of events are very predictable. For me, it’s so good! It is great, I mean. My heart can only handle one or two heart breaks but I admire Snow because she was able to withstand all those freaking revelations! Those are just too excruciating to bear. The first person narration is a plus point, I enjoyed it. I just hoped that there was an alternating point of view so that I will be able to see the other character’s perspective. The chosen words are fine, not too deep in the sense that you will need to check the dictionary often. Brace yourselves, rant coming! I don’t know why it seems like there is a flight of ideas. The author wants to show a lot of things which made it confusing. The story often jumps from one idea to another. New characters are constantly being introduced. It kind of lacked cohesiveness. Sorry but it is just my opinion. Despite this rant, I still like it and will definitely recommend it to my fellow readers. It is highly entertaining and the sprinkle of psychological mystery, in the beginning, is very appealing to me.

I have made a lot of realizations in this novel. First, it is very depressing when someone you love and trust wholeheartedly betrays you. I salute the character for overcoming that part of her life. No matter what happens, you still need to stand up and move forward after those upsetting incidents. Second, secrets will always ruin a relationship. I think people should just be honest so that things will not be that complicated. Lastly, this is from my favorite movie of all the time (The Fast and the Furious), you don’t turn your back to the family, even if they do. And that’s just how it is. Always.

Here are some of my favorite lines:

“How was it possible that not being normal saved me?”

“Destiny wasn’t exciting or romantic or epic. It was annoying.”

“We don’t always get what we want in this life. But we can control how we get there.”

“We breathe out the lies; we stutter the truth.”

“The more you see of evil, the more evil seems limitless.”

YEY! I hope I made some sense here on whether you should or should not read this. I honestly loved how it ended. I’m sure you will like it too.

~Janna