Book Review #91: The Last Namsara (Iskari #1) by Kristen Ciccarelli (Review Copy sent by Hachette Australia)

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“Some stories are too dangerous to be told.”

 

Title: The Last Namsara
Series: Iskari #1
Author: Kristen Ciccarelli
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 421
Date Published: October 03, 2017
Publishing House: Harper Teen
Goodreads Rating: 4.21
Personal Rating: 5 / 5

 

Synopsis

DESTROYER. DEATH BRINGER. DRAGON-SLAYER. I am more weapon than a girl. Asha is a dragon-slayer. Reviled by the very people she’s sworn to protect, she kills to atone for the terrible deed she committed as a child.

One that almost destroyed her city, and left her with a terrible scar.

She wears her scar with pride, but to others, her skin tells a story of devastation, of fiery deaths, of Asha’s irredeemable wickedness.

Only the death of Kozu, the first dragon, will bring Asha true redemption and unite her father’s fractured kingdom. But no one battles Kozu and lives, so to defeat him she will have to do some very wicked things…

 

My Personal Thoughts

The Last Namsara is one hell of a fantasy book! I am so glad that I picked this one up for my first read for 2018 because I was not disappointed! Fantasy books have always been my cup of tea. I love how these worlds can take me to places that I’ve only dreamed of and give me a rollercoaster ride. They stimulate my imagination and help me develop my creativity. This book is about dragons, royalties, and feminism. I admire how the author incorporated all these elements in order to come up with a masterpiece worth reading. This is the first fantasy novel that I’ve read that involves dragons. Of course I know Game of Thrones but I haven’t had the chance to read the series yet so basically, this novel initiated me to the dragon world. The author made these creatures look dangerous and wicked but I was astounded with how she surprised me with all the twist and turn out of events. Honestly, I haven’t seen all those jaw-dropping scenarios coming. It’s one of the main reasons why I gave this a five-star rating, with the number of books that I’ve already read so far, young adult fantasy novels are becoming more and more similar and it’s so hard for authors nowadays to please their readers with something fresh and new.

 

Characters

The Dragon King
Asha – the dragon slayer, daughter of the dragon king, Iskari
Dax – heir to the throne, son of the dragon king and brother to Asha
Jarek – commandant of the king, Asha’s soon to be husband
Roa – a scrublander female, love interest of Dax
Torwin – male slave of Jarek, Skral
Safire – Asha and Dax’ female cousin
Kozu – the first dragon

 

There are three things that I like most about the story:

  • Asha, the dragon-slayer. Who wouldn’t admire a badass female character who slays dragons despite being a member of the royal family? I’m not sure with you guys but I crave for female characters who know how to save themselves and who doesn’t need anyone to look after them. I am not a feminist to the highest level but I embrace woman empowerment and gender equality. I believe that Asha’s character is a representation of womanhood today: brave, bold, and independent.
  • The writing style is perfect for readers like me. I enjoyed the pacing; I was able to comprehend everything without missing any important information or event. It is fast-paced which makes it easier to read and finish in a day or two. Without being too descriptive, I was still able to visualize every scene.
  • Twists. All are mind-boggling and surprising! I am happy with all the turn out of events and I couldn’t think of a better way to end the story so I think that the author did a spectacular job. The protagonists got what they deserve and the same goes for antagonists as well.

 

However, there are also three things that I don’t really appreciate much:

  • The slave and royalty kind of love story is a cliche’ which I think and I’m very much sure that almost everyone will agree. I am so sick of stories where the other character is rich, and beautiful, and famous and the love interest is deprived and oppressed. I want something new, something that I haven’t read before.
  • The traditional wedding arrangements. It’s 2018, I despise the idea and the fact that these arrangements still exist on books. I am not a fan of characters getting married just for the sake of money, power, and having no choice at all. I truly believe that men and women should always be free to decide and choose who to settle with. With Asha and Jarek’s case, it is horrible and awful but with Dax and Roa, it is an intelligent decision but there’s no love as a foundation of the union so both arrangements suck.
  • How the antagonist was defeated was too easy. Seriously? Yes, I’ve been wanting to behead those morons but I was expecting for much more action-packed scenes. I was happy that it ended that way but I was a bit disappointed that it ended so easy peasy for them. Maybe I will look forward to more on the next books of this series.

 

Lessons

  • Loyalty is everything.
  • Never ever underestimate someone because of their status in the society because you never know if those people were really the ones who would do and give up everything for you.
  • Just because something is a tradition and an old belief doesn’t mean that it’s true and legit.

 

Favourite quotes in the story:

“No one needs to ask for a woman’s opinion. It’s expected that she gives it freely.”

Number one rule for dragon hunting: “Always know where the dragon’s tail is.”

“Force isn’t the only way to strike a blow.”

“Naming a thing endears you to it.”

“Asha wore her scar like a CROWN.”

 

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

 

Thank you, Hachette Australia Books, for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest and fair review.

 

~JaNnA

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Book Review #90: Without Merit by Colleen Hoover (Audiobook)

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“Why are kids drawn into fragile things?”

Title: Without Merit
Author: Colleen Hoover
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Young Adult
Format: Audiobook
Date Published: October 03, 2017
Publishing House: Simon Schuster Audio
Goodreads Rating: 3.98
Personal Rating: 3 / 5

Synopsis

“Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.”

The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.

Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antique shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.

Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves. [Goodreads]

My Personal Thoughts

Whew! Colleen Hoover is undeniably one of my favourite contemporary writers and I’ve loved almost all her books. This is the only book of Hoover that I’ve rated 3 out of 5. It is full of life lessons and I love the fact that depression, family, first loves, and forgiveness were all tackled in the story. It was beautifully written, as always. It’s not the author or the book that made me decide to give it an average rating compared to the five stars that I’ve given to all her previous books; maybe it was my expectation, I think it was too high. I was a bit disappointed because this one is far different from all of her books; it did not surprise me nor even made me excited for the ending. I admit that sensitive matters were discussed and given justification but I find the story boring, plain, and odd. It is not mind blowing like most of her stories; I was hoping that there’s more and I guess I was dumbfounded in the end because that was it. The setting is entertaining; I actually find it weird that Merit’s family lives in a former church that was converted into a house. It is unique and somewhat interesting and it made me want to unravel the secrets that the family’s been hiding. The characters are twisted and I fell in love with each every one of them even though they are all fucked up. The main character is Merit, she is a 17 y/o girl who happens to be left out. She thinks that her family is a wreck and that the secrets that she knows about all the family members are suffocating her existence. It was a journey how she underwent all the shit and still managed to survive. Honor is Merit’s twin sister; she is the more beautiful one, the friendly one, the sweet one, the better one, and everybody loves her. Utah is their elder brother, overachiever but was struggling to find his own identity in a world that is full of judgemental people. Sagan is the only character that I like in the story. He is a book friend material and his character is easy to fall in love with. There are still other members of the Voss family but I just find these four characters to be the most relevant ones. The plot twist is not that jaw-dropping and surprising but I still managed to enjoy the story. Depression was discussed and dissected and I do enjoy books that are about mental health so that’s a plus factor. I admire how the author executed this sensitive topic in a well-explained manner. It was a simple overview but it is enough for the readers to understand the extent of this condition. I am impressed how signs and symptoms were enumerated and how to seek help when one is ready to admit that there is a problem. I even like the way Utah’s case was explained. How LGBT friendly this book is and how it wants us to be open-minded about sexuality. These things are sensitive and phenomenal and Colleen is just so brave to write something about these topics just the same way that she wrote something about violence against women and children before. There is nothing personal with regards to the rating that I’ve given this book, it’s just that it is lacking in so many aspects and it did not meet my expectations. Overall, it is still highly recommended for every reader especially those who are looking for a self-help book. The beauty of having a family and how important it is to be thankful and forgiving are the most amazing things that happened in this masterpiece. It is also important to not just look at things based on our own perspective because we don’t really know how other people feel or sees things. Being considerate and unselfish is not so common these days anymore and it saddens me personally. I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts and of course I’ll always be excited about future books that Collen will be writing.

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

~JaNnA

 

Book Review #89: A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J. Maas

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“Remember that you are a WOLF. And you cannot be caged.”

Title: A Court of Wings and Ruin
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses
Pages: 705
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: Hardback
Date Published: May 02, 2017
Publishing House: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Goodreads Rating: 4.53
Personal Rating: 5 / 5

Synopsis

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit – and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

My Personal Thoughts

Wow! Just wow! I can’t even! I’m still trying to recover from the awesomeness and the jaw-dropping effect of this book! Holy, holy, holy! It is not bad for a finale but I was hoping for MORE. When I started to read this trilogy about two years ago, I already fell in love with Feyre Archeron, because why not? She symbolises feminism, bravery, and passion! She is the perfect example of someone who followed her heart and wasn’t even afraid or ashamed of what other people will say or think about her. Right from the very first book (A Court of Thorns and Roses), Feyre already had my respect and admiration! Her character is so inspiring and empowering. I, as a woman, loved how she took matters into her own hands and did not bother considering other people’s perception of her. Her unconditional love for her family is the ultimate reason why this trilogy is a success. And of course the fact that she ended up with her one true “MATE”. It is brain racking how things turned and twisted since the first book, how first loves and stuff like that can still change and teach us lessons that we may carry as we go on with our lives. Hers and Rhysand’s is the perfectly imperfect love story. I am so in love with their pair. Before I was rooting for Tamlin but Rhys is just too perfect for Feyre and they complement each other. They accepted each other’s flaws and weaknesses and they embraced each other strengths. It is so heart-warming how they truly adored each other. I just think that the book contains too many sensual scenes and it is not suitable for young adult readers. That is just my opinion because this book is under the Young Adult Fantasy category so I think the sex scenes may be too much. But I do like the fact that it is LGBT friendly. The action scenes deserve to be commended because OMG who would have thought that the characters that defeated the King of Hybern were most of the time unnoticed. I also enjoyed the OTPs (one true pair) here especially Cassian and Nesta! Nesta transformed from being a stone-cold bitch to someone who actually has a heart. Perfect! I was just hoping for something between Elain and Lucien but the book already ended. There are still too many things that I wanted to happen but it felt like there’s no place for them anymore. I hope that the book that will be published next year which I think is a novella would include some points that were missed in this third and final installment. As always, SJM’s writing style never ceases to mesmerise me! I was in a slump because the book is overwhelming considering the fact that my copy has 705 pages. It took me a while but I finally made it. It was so damn worth it. I love Feyre’s narration but it could have been better if it was an alternating point of view between her and Rhysand. In addition to this, I was impressed with how things ended up between Feyre and Tamlin and how they’ve dealt with their situation as grown and mature adults. Feyre may have been Tamlin’s the one that got away but I still hope that in the next book happiness will still find its way towards him. After all, he was my first love in this series. I can’t ignore Rhys’ feelings and devotion towards his mate. He is just the best book husband ever. This book is magnificent; and the way that friendship, love, and family were the main focus of this masterpiece makes it my best read for 2017! I will surely miss the characters and all the crap and shit that they went through. Kudos for ending a trilogy in an amazing and entertaining way! Highly recommended, as ALWAYS!

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

~JaNnA

 

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

 

Book Review #82: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

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“Everyone has that moment I think, the moment when something so momentous happens that it rips your very being into small pieces. And then you have to stop. For a long time, you gather your pieces. And it takes such a very long time, not to fit them back together, but to assemble them in a new way, not necessarily a better way. More, a way you can live with until you know for certain that this piece should go there, and that one there.” 

Title: Girl in Pieces
Author: Kathleen Glasgow
ISBN: 1101934719
Pages: 416
Genre: Young Adult, Mental Health, Contemporary
Format: Hardback
Date Published: August 30, 2016
Publishing House: Delacorte Press
Goodreads Rating: 4.14
Personal Rating: 5 / 5

SYNOPSIS

Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.

Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.

MY PERSONAL THOUGHTS

Oh, dear! Here I go again. Leaving reviews about controversial stories are just so frustrating and a real pain in the ass (but not in a negative way). This is the first time that I’ve read or encountered about people who do “NSSH” or non-suicidal self harming. I’ll be honest and careful because I have no idea how this thing goes. Yes, I’ve always been fascinated with the human behaviour and all the stuff that revolves around it but I am clueless about people who do the self harming thing without the intention of actually committing suicide. This story is full of emotions and it’s overflowing with life and love lessons as well. It is slow-paced and oftentimes I got bored but it was able to send me the message that it wants to convey to its readers. I love how it affected and hit me so damn hard to the point that I was able to contemplate about all my past choices in life. It is a very heartwarming and inspiring novel considering the fact that it is based on actual events that took place. I listened to the audiobook and it is well executed, I even appreciated the last words from the author herself and how she overcame all the struggles that she went through. I admire the main character, Charlie, so much; she is so fragile but brave at the same time. Being in her position is hard but she managed to make it through and get her shit together. Problematic childhood is a sensitive topic as well and it plays a crucial role into how a person will become. I love each and every part of this story because it sums up how life can be:  cruel, fucked up, but somehow it goes on. The main character’s love interests are both swoon worthy. They both have the striking male characteristic that Charlie can’t resist, but shit happens and we can’t force things if they aren’t meant to be. I am impressed with the author’s writing style, the woman knows how to reach out to her readers and she definitely nailed it. She is such an inspiration and it is a brave act to write a story based on your own experience. Hands down and a round of applause for a masterpiece that is beautifully written. The lessons are merely enough for you people to grab a copy and read this book. It taught me plenty of lessons and I am so happy that I am doing this review right now. I’ve learned a lot and it is good that “HELP” is available and accessible. Please, if you know someone or you are suffering from depression or tendency to harm yourself, you are not alone. I highly recommend this book to readers who like reading books about mental health. It is very informative and you will enjoy every chapter of it. Five amazing stars!💜

~JaNnA

Book Review #81: The Midnight Star (The Young Elites, #3) by Marie Lu

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“You cannot harden your heart to the future just because of your past.”

Title: The Midnight Star
Series: The Young Elites
Author: Marie Lu
ISBN: 0399167854
Pages: 316
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Format: Hardback
Date Published: October 11, 2016
Publishing House: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Goodreads Rating: 4.14
Personal Rating: 4/5

Synopsis

There was once a time when darkness shrouded the world, and the darkness had a queen.

Adelina Amouteru is done the suffering. She’s turned her back on those who have betrayed her and achieved the ultimate revenge: victory. Her reign as the White Wolf has been a triumphant one, but with each conquest, her cruelty only grows. The darkness within her has begun to spiral out of control, threatening to destroy all she’s gained.

When a new danger appears, Adelina’s forced to revisit old wounds, putting not only herself at risk, but every Elite. In order to preserve her empire, Adelina and her Roses must join the Daggers on a perilous quest—though this uneasy alliance may prove to be the real danger

My personal Thoughts

Whoaaaaa! This is the 3rd and final installment of author Marie Lu’s astounding second series, The Young Elites. I’ll be honest and frank; I did not expect the finale to be this awesome and legendary (in Barney Stinson tone). I actually gave the first two books (you can check out my book review of The Young Elites H E R E and The Rose Society H E R E ) a quite low rating because I was so disappointed and disgusted with the main character (Adelina) and with how things turned out; but this time Adelina surprised me a lot (and believe me when I say “a lot”). I do not own a physical copy of the second and third book, my copy of the first book is in the Philippines and because of the fact that I was not happy with it, I did not bother securing a copy of the second one. I listened to The Midnight Star’s audiobook version this time hoping that I’ll be able to finish the series and get this over with. Unexpectedly, the author finally made a statement here which left me in deep awe. The characters all transformed and developed in a positive manner and I couldn’t be any happier. I’ve been ranting about Adelina for like forever because of the way she played the victim when in fact she is a monstrous being; but this time I like how she managed to play the game and all her sacrifices are just so impressive and heroic. I was hoping that there would still be a chance for Adelina and Enzo’s (read the 1st book to find out more about who Enzo is) ship but yeah there are things that will not work out no matter what black magic one does or engages into. Moving on, Margiano is definitely my man here! I just felt sorry for him with how things ended, if there could be any other way, though. He is so understanding and sincere and was often misunderstood and I am in love with the idea that he changed for the better. Next in line is Violetta, this doll surprised me, I know I kept on repeating the word “surprise” but I can’t get over the idea that this book is so impressive and surprising!!! Violetta’s fate is a real twist for me, I did not see that one coming and it’s perfect. The writing style is better this time, maybe it was already awesome since the first book and the problem was just my preference. I know a lot of fellow readers and bloggers liked the first two books so badly but I am not sorry that it was not my cup of tea (I just can’t!). Everything is interesting, appealing, and the plot twists are all breathtaking and jaw-dropping. I was just hoping for more action-packed scenes but there was none. I was also expecting a happy-ever-after but the ending is perfect nonetheless (and I am not complaining!). It has been an awesome journey to be a witness of how Adelina, Terren, Margiano, and Violetta evolved into being better and bolder characters. I’ll obviously give Marie Lu the standing ovation for always giving her readers a badass and memorable ending. Her first trilogy, the Legend series, has the best ending everrr! And this book is undeniably next to that! Maybe I need to reread the first two books one of these days and be able to secure a hardback copy of all three of them. It is highly recommended for YA fantasy readers and you will not be disappointed; it will definitely exceed your expectations. Four out of five for being beautifully written and executed.

~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