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BOOK REVIEW: The Young Elites Trilogy by Marie Lu

“Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
– John Acton

5 Stars

I started Young Elites expecting a usual no-nonsense Young Adult novel—apparently I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I ended up finishing the entire trilogy in a span of two and a half days.

Finally, something different.

This review covers the entire trilogy so heads-up: Heavy spoilers ahead.

For the first time, the star is not a hero—but an antihero. Adelina stands out among today’s crop of YA heroines because she is exactly what they are not. We’ve seen it a hundred times: A seemingly ordinary girl who eventually becomes the key to the world’s survival or something like that. It’s a tale as told as time, and frankly I’ve grown tired of it. Young Elites is none of that. This is a story of the rise and fall of a villain—and her eventual redemption. In this series, I saw a mirror of our reality: how nations are born, how they are conquered… how one dictator falls only to be replaced by another. It showed problems our society faces constantly each day: How hate begets hate, how it becomes a cycle that gets nurtured until it peaks. It’s dark, it’s mature, and amidst all the powers and monsters: there is truth.

Young Elites started with Adelina as a weak little girl, not knowing her place in the world and how to use her power. I journeyed with her through her torments until she found the first group of people that accepted her. I saw how she fell in love and how she got betrayed over and over. I watched how the bitterness of life slowly took its toll on her. I knew what was happening: How the darkness in her slowly brewed, cultivated by her sufferings and the people who hurt her. I stood witness as her power heightened and slowly corrupted her—how her ambitions and cruelty grew stronger each page. I knew she was no hero—yet I couldn’t bring myself to hate her. Because I knew her story. Nobody here was pure. Each character had darkness in them—even sweet Violetta. In a way, I rooted for the villain. I think that’s what the author wanted. Because in reality, we all have darkness in us. We all want to succeed, to become powerful, to be on top. Adelina was our personal darkness personified.

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Honestly, I think the series could’ve stopped at book two and succeeded. I thought that final sentence at the end of Rose Society was perfect on its own. The beginning of Midnight Star felt a little out of place. I found myself doubting the author, “Where is she going with this?” The first two books were so strong and I didn’t want to be disappointed with a weak conclusion. The third book started off weak, yes, but the final chapters were what saved it. That part where Adelina was bargaining for her sister’s life and was contemplating what she has, would, and could become was beautifully written. My heart broke as she pictured her future with Magiano—a future that she’ll never have. It felt like it was also being wrenched away from me. I wanted them to have more time—I wanted them to have a life. The voice in me wanted her to stay. Who cares about Violetta? She’s had an easy life! It was as if I’ve become the dark whispers in Adelina’s delusions. I wanted her to be selfish. I wanted ­her, not Violetta. But then as she wrestled with her thoughts, so did I. She was right. And it was devastating because I knew it was the right choice—the only choice. Still, my heart broke for Magiano. I finished the book with a little hatred for Violetta. Why did she get everything Adelina worked so hard for?Her life has always been easy—and in the end Adelina’s life work was just handed to her on a silver platter. It’s not fair! But then again, life is never fair. I guess, like Magiano, I’ll just have to live with what we are dealt with.

Would I recommend this? Yes. It’s a breath of fresh air among redundant girl-saves-the-world plots in today’s bookshelves. If you liked Mistborn and Graceling then I think you’ll like this. If you’ve read this and liked it, then try those titles I mentioned.

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Edition Review: American Gods x Anansi Boys (B&N Collectible Edition 2016)

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The moment I saw this beautiful edition online, I knew I just had to have it. I’m a big Gaiman fan so imagine my excitement when I learned that it’ll be available in my country.

The cover art was designed by Jim Tierney. I love the silver and blue theme. The typography design really stood out against the black leather base. It’s a truly gorgeous piece.

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The exterior theme extends to the inner jacket. The page trims are also coated with silver.

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The paper is smooth and thin, kinda like The Bible. The book also has a ribbon marker, so no need for bookmarks.

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The book is a bit heavy so I don’t recommend it for casual reading. I bought this book with the intent of displaying it so I don’t really mind the weight. Overall, this is a beautiful edition that any Gaiman fan would love. Definitely worth every penny!

Casting Name of the Wind (Part 1)

Okay, so it’s been a while since it was announced that Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda will be producing Rothfuss’ much-loved Kingkiller Chronicle and various sites have already published their dream cast for the series. So… I’ve decided to make one for myself!

1. Kvothe

This is probably the most difficult part to cast. I mean, it is Kvothe. I would actually prefer if they got someone completely unknown, so that I won’t be able to associate him with anyone else (like how they did with most of the GOT characters). I’ve always pictured Kvothe with burning red hair and faerie-like pale skin. Initially, I thought he looked somehow like  Ben Barnes (Prince Caspian from Narnia), but with slightly reddish hair and paler skin.

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I tried to photoshop a photo to see how he would look like with red hair. Not bad!

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2. Denna

Patrick Rothfuss once said that his Denna would be Natalie Portman, but I think she’s already too old and already too well-known to be cast as her. As for me, I’ve always thought Nina Dobrev would make a good Denna. She has that dainty but feisty appeal. I mean, just look at these photos of her! Isn’t she perfect?

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A lot of people have also been suggesting Kaya Scodelario (Skins, Maze Runner), which I think is also a good choice.

3. Auri

From the very beginning, my Auri was a cross between Elle Fanning and Evanna Lynch (Elle’s innocent look and Evanna’s whimsical acting). Or maybe a blonde Mackenzie Foy?

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4. Bast

I would have to say that Ezra Miller is the perfect choice for Bast. He has that faerie-devilish beauty that can transition from an innocent assistant to a cruel fae. I believe a lot of people see him as a perfect fit for the role as well.

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5. Fela

In my head, Fela was someone really attractive with lots of sex appeal. I think Alexandra Daddario would be perfect. The downside is that she’s already  too well-known (she’s already attached to Percy Jackson, White Collar and Baywatch).

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6. Simmon

When I saw him play the dorky Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts I immediately thought Eddie Redmayne would be a perfect Simmon. He has that awkward “clueless-looking” Simmon charm! Doesn’t he look like someone who would serenade you with a poem?

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I’m still trying to think of who to cast as the other characters, particularly Ambrose, so I’ll post more ideas in my next post! How about you? Who will you cast as Kvothe?

Audiobook Review: Secondhand Smoke (Jake Brand, PI #2) by M. Louis

3 Stars

This audiobook was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Okay, it’s been a long while since my last blog post and although I’ve been reading books here and there I haven’t really been able to update my site for a while due to my work schedule… so I’ve decided to get my blogging groove back as my New Year’s Resolution!

It’s been decades since my last mystery read. I think my last one was Dan Brown’s Inferno (which was ages ago) so I welcomed this audiobook with open arms.

First and foremost, I haven’t read “Angel’s Devil”, the first book of this series, so I was worried I might have a hard time understanding the plot since this was a sequel. Thankfully, the book was written in a way that it could stand alone. My first reaction while listening to the first few chapters was “This Jake guy has a really unique sense of humor”, lol. I like how the tone wasn’t too serious like most mystery novels. It’s serious, but not too serious. I think the narrator, Colin McCarthy, did a good job with balancing the tone of the audiobook as well. The story started off nicely and gradually picked up as the novel progressed. There were times wherein I had to stay a few minutes longer in the car just to finish a chapter. There were some really intense moments where I questioned if Jake’s crew would make it. Another factor I really liked was the time spent on Jake’s mundane PI moments. It’s nice to see what he normally does as a PI when not getting himself in trouble (kidding).

Overall, I enjoyed this audiobook. I think the gem of this novel was really Jake’s (sometimes awkward) sense of humor, which made him very likable. I might read Angel’s Devil too and see what Jake got himself into there. I think this book would probably make an enjoyable movie due to the numerous action-packed scenes.

P.S. This book made me wanna visit Portland!


See my goodreads review here.
Credit for the graphics: http://mlouisbooks.com/

It’s been a while!

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Wow, it’s been four months since my last blog post. I’ve been quite an irresponsible book blogger! But, in case you’re wondering what I’ve been up to… here it is! For the past few months I’ve been busy designing stuff (fan art, typography, prints, etc). I’m an artist by profession and lately I’ve been really motivated to draw and design things that are close to my heart. One of my favorites were these Harry Potter-themed bookmark and sticker sets!

I just thought that there aren’t much decent Potter merchandise available in my country, and I don’t want to buy from random stores who only download and print stuff from the internet when I can design my own. So, here they are!

On other note, have you read The Cursed Child yet? What were your thoughts? Personally, I enjoyed the book (script) for what it was worth. It’s definitely nowhere near the Rowling books, but hey, it’s canon and it’s still Harry Potter. The book felt like fan service more than anything else.I’m sure they could’ve done so much better if they decided to go another direction. Still, I was happy with it. I truly felt that it was a gift for true Potterheads. It was like being reunited with long-lost friends, and I was just so happy to see them again that nothing else mattered.

How about you? Did you love it, or hate it? Were you glad they decided to release an eighth book?

 

P.S. If you’re interested in my bookmarks and stickers, just email me at kaeriart@gmail.com!

Bookmarks!

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My work colleagues and I decided to join the KawaiiPH Market and sell some of our art. Being the bookworm that I am, I decided to design some bookmarks! It was my first time doing this kind of thing and there was a lot of procrastination involved. In the end, the event was a success and I enjoyed it a lot!

Here are some of the bookmarks I made. I’m sure my fellow bookworms can relate to some of these!

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I’m an artist by profession and I think I ended up being too pantone-crazy. The black ones are still my personal favorite though.

Overall this was a great experience and I might design more bookmarks and other fandom-related things in the future!

 

P.S. If you’re interested in buying some, do email me at kaeriart@gmail.com!

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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2 Stars


“In school, we learned about the world before ours, about the angels and gods that lived in the sky, ruling the earth with kind and loving hands. Some say those are just stories, but I don’t believe that.

The gods rule us still, they have come down from the stars. And they are no longer kind.”

Imagine Graceling meets Princess Diaries and you’ll have something like The Red Queen. Mare, the heroine of the story, discovers that she possesses a power she’s not supposed to have. Of course, inevitably, she becomes a key figure in a rebellion against a corrupt and prejudiced system. Basically, in this world, there are two kinds of people: Reds and Silvers. Reds are normal humans bound to serve, while the Silvers are elite humans with special abilities and destined to rule over all. That’s the status quo, has been for centuries, and of course, the rebellion seeks to change that. I won’t say anything more about the plot to avoid spoiling so I’ll just spill my thoughts regarding the substance of the book.

This book had a lot of potential. It started off strong. However, as the world building was set-up, it started to become a little chaotic. First of all, world-building is very important to me. When I read Fantasy, may it be YA or High Fantasy, I expect to be fully immersed and introduced to its world. There has to be consistency and clear visuals in my head. Although the book clearly described Norta, I found a lot of elements to be disjointed and frenzied. Medieval, steampunk and other eras were all mixed in together which made visualizing a clear world a bit difficult.

I also had a problem with Mare. I found her character weak. She didn’t have a very strong conviction. There were times I questioned what she was really fighting for. The love triangle also felt forced and pathetic. I mean, seriously? The characters fell in love with each other without much basis. They barely had any substantial interaction, they barely knew each other, and they’re willing to risk their lives for something so feeble? I’m sorry but just don’t buy it. It felt like a high school infatuation more than anything else. The character development was so weak I didn’t make any connections with any of them. I didn’t feel anything for their suffering, for their deaths, or triumphs. Nothing. It was hard for me to root for Mare because she never showed me enough to make me believe in her.

Overall, this was a very disappointing book. I understand how some people might love it, especially YA readers. But for hardcore Fantasy readers like me, this is way not up to par. I get how some people see similarities between Red Queen and Graceling because of the special powers, but believe me that’s as far as it goes. It’s like comparing freshly brewed Columbian coffee to a hotel’s free 3-in-1 sachet.

Will I read the second book? Probably. But I won’t be running to the bookstore to get it.