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Book Review: Too Many Curses

I really love books that crack me up. Big time.

I tried so hard not to burst into laughter while on the bus — and ended up smiling idiotically to myself instead. I’m officially a fan of this author now. He knows how to make me laugh out loud!

The Story:

Nessy is a kobold (look up what a kobold is if you’re clueless) and is the only servant in dark wizard Margle’s castle. But when Margle returned with a Nurgax egg which broke open by accident, he was devoured by the odd creature. Nessy being the second living thing the Nurgax saw, was imprinted and both of them bonded.

The death of Margle was both good and bad news. He was hated by all who were cursed by him, stuck within the castle. The bad news was, the castle seemed to be collapsing without him.

Weird things started to happen in the castle, and a mysterious yet powerful wizardess has come to visit Margle in the thick of things. Can Nessy, with the help of the cursed souls of the castle, help turn things back to normal once again? And was Margle really dead?

What I Liked About the Book:

1. It was fresh, unique and pretty interesting. The characters were amazing — different personalities which I haven’t come across before. I mean, the lead character is a kobold! It’s nice for a change from the usual human lead. My favourites were Sir Thedeus, a human hero cursed into a fruit bat; Echo, a female ghost with just a voice and nothing else (not even an apparition); Yazpib, Margle’s brother who was cursed to a jar of floating facial features, and many more. They were such a delight to read about!

2. IT WAS HILARIOUS. I don’t know how the author did it, but the way he wrote the funny parts, it was effortless. It wasn’t the least bit forced, and the spontaneity was really natural. I had a great time laughing!

3. What surprised me most was that there were actually some valuable life lessons I could learn from, mostly through Nessy’s words. I thought it was brilliant that the author managed to inject something worthwhile in an otherwise funny and entertaining story. I definitely got some thinking and reflecting done!

What I Didn’t:

1. Some parts were slow, especially the beginning.

Verdict:

This book was a great read, and I encourage you guys to give it a try. I guarantee that you’ll be snorting with laughter soon enough!

Rating: 4/5

Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I have never read such a hard-hitting YA contemporary novel before.

This was truly an amazing book!

Written in the form of letter entries, we follow Charlie as he copes with his first year of high school — dramas, friends, teachers, family, sex, drugs and everything else. It’s a coming-of-age story that I felt was wonderfully written and brought across.

What’s Good About It:

1. Because you’re reading the book as letters written to you from Charlie, the experience was ultimately very real and genuine. Everything was heartfelt and sincere!

2. Charlie was an emotional train-wreck. To be honest, that’s what made this book so good. Lots of emotions flying about, and I thought that the way he described his feelings was very personal, so there was kind of a connection between him and me. I was totally immersed in Charlie’s life! I also liked that I could relate to some of what he experienced, and the way he thought about certain things. It made me think about myself too.

3. Plenty of in-your-face drama, with no sugarcoating AT ALL. That’s what I like. Straight to the chase reality. You get to read all sorts of stuff in there.

4. I don’t know how Chbosky did it, but he actually managed to create some depth in most of the characters, despite the book being entirely in Charlie’s head.

5. There was a sense of an ending — a nice closure I would say.

Verdict:

I can’t wait to catch the film, and I really hope the cast captured the characters well enough! Overall, a worthy and thought-provoking read.

Rating: 5/5

Book Review: The Traitors

Have you ever betrayed someone before? Stabbed a person who’s close to you in the back? Did you get away with it? Did your guilty conscience prick you the least bit?

Adam here has betrayed his best friend Danny. And because of that, he was captured to the Dial, a no-time place through a warphole. Sentenced to imprisonment in the Dial for 274 years, Adam has all the time in the world to repent.

Seemed like he wasn’t the only traitor on planet Earth. The Dial was full of traitors, both young and old. With the evil warden Mr. Pitt who kept a close eye on the prisoners, it was virtually impossible to escape. Or was it really?

Thing was, there’s a mole working for Mr. Pitt. Any plans to escape were always thwarted by the mole. Together with his fellow inmates, Adam had to find out who’s the mole, and try to escape the Dial once and for all.

Let’s do this a little different today, shall we?

Creative idea? Check.

Mediocre storyline? Check.

Average characters? Check.

Awesome twists? Check.

Loopholes? Check.

The highlight for me has got to be the numerous twists and surprises unveiled in the second half of the book. They were real good ones, I tell you. Other than that, I found “The Traitors” slightly below average, because the whole story didn’t seem ‘practical’ in its own sense. It was like all the bits and pieces didn’t add up to be convincing enough for me. I also felt detached from the main character, Adam, and that was a shame. Thank goodness it’s a stand-alone though, because I can’t imagine having this premise to have a decent sequel.

Rating: 2.5/5

Book Review: Slated

How would you think if repeat offenders of serious crimes and extremely dangerous people such as terrorists, were to go through a procedure where their memories were wiped off and given a clean new slate? Just so they could still be useful people in society without having a risk of perhaps going back to their old ways? Would it be more beneficial than say, locking them up in high-security prisons? Using up manpower to guard them?

Yet if such a procedure was in place, would it be ethical?

Questions for you to think about, huh.

The Story:

Kyla Davis is finally leaving the hospital after 9 months since being slated. Set in the not-so-distant future, criminals had to go through a procedure to have their memories erased, so they could start a new life in society. Those under 21 years of age had to have a mechanical bracelet known as a Levo, which monitored their emotional levels. Once it dipped below 3 from anger, stress or sadness, it would be dangerous and the wearer could black out and die. This was to ensure that Slateds were kept happy.

Thing was, Kyla seemed to be different from other Slateds.

Bits and pieces of memories kept coming back to her through numerous dreams and nightmares, and while she shunned from them, she couldn’t help but try to put them together — to find out about her past. Yet when things started to become weird and dangerous for Kyla and the people around her, she began to question herself if finding out about her past was worth it.

What I Liked About “Slated”:

1. I liked the idea. It was sort of dystopian, but realistic enough. Very creative, and thought-provoking.

2. There was a constant air of mystery surrounding Kyla and her world. It was compelling enough to make me turn the pages so I could find out what happened next!

3. The highlight for me was the gradual shift in some of the characters, like Kyla’s mother, father, sister, and her doctor. It was both surprising to actually unravel them as the story progressed, some of whom I didn’t expect to be so starkly different than when they were introduced. But I wished the author would have fleshed them out more, because by the end of the book, I felt nothing was concrete.

What I Didn’t:

1. The main plot was not solid enough to grasp onto. It was quite lacking, for the book was mainly just minor sequences unfolding after one another. 

2. The ending was rushed, and something out of nowhere just happened like THAT, which confused me and left me feeling frustrated!

Verdict:

An intriguing read, though weak in certain aspects. I don’t think I’ll pick up the sequel.

Rating: 3/5

Book Review: Monster Hunter International

Wow.

Just hold on a sec while I collect myself.

*Takes deep breath*

Okay. Phew…what an adrenaline rush!! I had an immensely wonderful time reading this epic popcorn book.

The Story:

Owen Zastava Pitt was an accountant until he discovered that his mean boss was a werewolf. After managing to push him down the office building through a window, Owen received a job offer to be a full-time monster hunter at Monster Hunter International.

After debating with himself internally, he decided that monster hunting was a calling, and off he went to start his new career. But when Owen’s dreams became weirder, with a mysterious old man appearing each time, he realised through his visions that something evil and sinister has landed. As the situation escalated into chaos, Owen unknowingly became a key in this mess, and it was now up to him to stop the world from being destroyed.

What I Liked About the Book:

1. Well executed plot, with numerous twists and sophistications. Correia’s writing managed to pull me into Owen’s world seamlessly, and I never wanted to stop reading! Pages were flying like mad, and I almost missed my stop while reading it in the bus! True story.

2. LOADS of monsters, LOADS of monster action, LOADS of battle scenes, LOADS of gory details. Just so freaking awesome. If this were being made as a movie I’m guessing the budget will exceed $200 million at least. No kidding. Real intense and adrenaline-pumped of a novel.

3. Characters were great. Though not all were fleshed out properly, they played their roles excellently, and I definitely grew attached to them pretty fast.

4. Good closure. Correia sure took his time making this book as perfect as it could be. Questions were answered eventually, and everything wrapped up nicely.

What I Didn’t:

1. NOTHING.

Verdict:

Even at 700+ pages long, I surprisingly took only a couple of days to finish this. It was just that entertaining. Can’t wait to be engrossed in the next book! :D If you love monsters (i.e. nasty vampires, gargoyles, crustaceans from hell etc.), guns, blowing up stuff and such, READ THIS.

Rating: 5/5

Book Review: Insignia

Apparently, I wasn’t the only reader who felt that this book was like a hybrid of “Ender’s Game” and “Ready Player One”. You could probably add a sprinkle of “Divergent” and that’s “Insignia” for you!

Despite the close similarities, I thoroughly enjoyed Kincaid’s notable debut. “Insignia” was all kinds of fun!

The Story (Taken from GoodReads):

More than anything, Tom Raines wants to be important, though his shadowy life is anything but that. For years, Tom’s drifted from casino to casino with his unlucky gambler of a dad, gaming for their survival. Keeping a roof over their heads depends on a careful combination of skill, luck, con artistry, and staying invisible.

Then one day, Tom stops being invisible. Someone’s been watching his virtual-reality prowess, and he’s offered the incredible—a place at the Pentagonal Spire, an elite military academy. There, Tom’s instincts for combat will be put to the test, and if he passes, he’ll become a member of the Intrasolar Forces, helping to lead his country to victory in World War Three. Finally, he’ll be someone important: a superhuman war machine with the tech skills that every virtual-reality warrior dreams of. Life at the Spire holds everything that Tom’s always wanted—friends, the possibility of a girlfriend, and a life where his every action matters—but what will it cost him?

What I Liked About “Insignia”:

1. Kincaid managed to capture my attention right from the very start. The world building was excellent, and I was instantly immersed in this futuristic world that could very well be ours in reality.

2. I liked that Kincaid didn’t rush us through every single thing. She took her time, but it was for the best. This allowed us readers to follow the story at a suitable pace. Despite this, I didn’t feel the least bit bored because I really enjoyed reading the interesting aspects of Tom’s life in the Spire, from training to his interaction with his friends. There wasn’t any filler parts in the book at all!

3. Like in “Ender’s Game”, what I loved most about the book was Tom’s training simulations and programming lessons. They were fun, exciting, and the way they were carried out sure made me want to climb into Tom’s world immediately just so I could join all of them.

4. The characters were wonderful. The ones that were supposed to be likable were likable, and those that deserved to be loathed made me loathe them. While only certain characters like Tom, Wyatt and even Beamer were more fleshed out than the rest, I still appreciated Kincaid for making them so memorable. Not to mention the numerous hilarious dialogues that went on among them!

5. Lastly, I’m really grateful to Kincaid for closing the book well. No cliffhangers, no rushed ending, just a nice conclusion for the start of what is going to be an amazing series.

What I Didn’t:

1. The main plot didn’t really move significantly until 3/4 of the way through. Nevertheless, I was glad it moved at all.

Verdict:

A stellar debut from a promising writer! I had an awesome time reading “Insignia”, and was pleasantly surprised because I totally didn’t expect anything. If you love science fiction, dystopians and the like, I urge you to pick this up and give it a go!

Rating: 4.5/5

Book Review: The Lifeboat

This was just a little too dragged out for my liking.

I’m a fan of novels depicting the actions carried out by human beings in dire circumstances. The degree of extremity is both fascinating and intriguing, not to mention thought-provoking.

I had wanted to read this book even before it was published, because I was real curious about the story — 39 survivors of a shipwreck, all in a lifeboat that was clearly overloaded.

The book started off portraying Grace Winter, 22, a survivor whom was put on trial for murder alongside another 2 women — Mrs. Grant and Hannah. The writer went on to show us the recollections of Grace during the twenty-one days they were in the lifeboat before getting rescued, followed by the courtroom proceedings determining the fate of those 3 women.

What I Liked About “The Lifeboat”:

1. I liked that it was set in 1914, and it reminded me a lot of Titanic, just that the focus was on the survivors in the lifeboat. And that they weren’t rescued as fast as those of the survivors from the Titanic. I thought the writer grasped the era quite well, with regard to language and the like. Overall, that ‘vintage’ feel was there.

2. That there were different cliques. Some who yearned for power, others who conspired among themselves, and those who were weak and powerless. I thought the writer differentiated these people very distinctly from one another, which was a good thing. Lots of drama here and there — who would have thought so much could happen in a lifeboat?

3. The physical and especially mental state of the survivors in the lifeboat were captured very well by the writer. Starvation, thirst, sickness, hallucinations, internal struggles…some had it worse, but some triumphed above them.

4. The courtroom proceedings were interesting to read, because I wanted to find out how the three women could escape from prosecution. The arguments and everything made it exciting, despite me not usually being a fan of law fiction.

What I Didn’t:

1. Loads of unnecessary information were fed to me, which I thought were kind of irrelevant. I’d rather more lifeboat drama!!

2. The story was far too dragged out for my liking, as I have mentioned in the beginning.

3. So there were 39 people on board the lifeboat. But somehow I felt that there were only roughly 15 present! Who were the rest? What happened to them? Perhaps the number of people was far too big to start with.

4. The deaths were a little too convenient.

Verdict:

While I enjoyed some aspects of the book, I felt others were dull and boring to plough through. Nevertheless, it was an interesting read on the topic of human nature.

Rating: 3/5

Book Review: What She Left Behind

This book is about domestic abuse.

From a batshit crazy father.

Whom I just didn’t get at all.

The Story:

Sara and her mother are finally planning to run away from her abusive father, a few months after her beloved brother, Matt, committed suicide. But when the actual day comes and Sara realises her mother fails to turn up, she panicks.

Everyday, Sara will sit at the Dairy Dream, waiting for her mother, thinking that she’ll eventually pick her up and leave this small town once and for all. Only she’s waiting in vain.

When her father explains that Sara’s mother is away on a business trip, she knows he’s lying, hence with the help of new-found love Alex and her brother’s best friend Zach, she’s determined to find out what her father has done to her mother.

But will it be too late?

What I Liked About the Book:

1. It did keep me on the edge of my seat mostly. I found myself turning the pages as fast as I could to see what happened to Sara and her mother. However, I could use a little more suspense!

2. The abuse was raw and in-your-face, not sugarcoated at all. Violence, shouting…you name it.

3. I liked how the writer inserted flashbacks on the life Sara and her family led before everything came crashing down. There was a stark contrast and it showed.

What I Didn’t:

1. Sara and Alex’s insta-love felt contrived. While the relationship dynamics was acceptable and oddly adorable, it just came about too fast and convenient.

2. The reason for Sara’s father being abusive and plain insane. It was confusing.

Verdict:

An alright read for me, could have been better if there was a stronger suspense element and more intricate plot.

Rating: 3/5

Book Review: The Death Cure (Maze Runner #3)

Okay I’ll be quick about this — great showdown, but not all questions were answered.

Picking up where “The Scorch Trials” left off, Thomas and the Gladers were being prepped for Phase 3, and they were to be given their memories back in order to aid WICKED in coming up with a cure for the Flare. But Thomas was hesitant, suspecting WICKED of not telling the truth completely. While majority of the Gladers agreed to the procedure, Thomas, Minho and Newt decided that they would slip away at the first opportunity……

I liked that this third instalment continued to be as action-packed as the previous book, and was pretty much a page-turner too. I got some basic answers to a few questions, but there were still a lot of loopholes yet to be covered by Dashner. It was kind of frustrating.

Not to mention something happened halfway through the story and I thought Thomas did the MOST STUPIDEST THING EVER. Like seriously??! I was really pissed off. Unbelievable!

I don’t know if Dashner wrote that just so that he could continue the story, but to me, it was all levels of wrong.

In regard to the characters, they were still the same. Not much development, which I thought was a pity.

To sum it up, not exactly an excellent conclusion, but I enjoyed it nonetheless!

Rating: 4/5

Book Review: Me Before You

I didn’t want this book to end.

Even if it’s at 480 pages, I felt it wasn’t long enough.

I want more!!!

"Me Before You" was definitely one of the most wonderfully written novels I’ve ever read.  It’s practically FLAWLESS.

In some ways, it reminded me of John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars”, which was equally amazing.

The Story:

Will Traynor had everything in the world one could ever ask for — wealth, beautiful girlfriend, plenty of opportunities……until the accident happened.

Now rendered a quadriplegic, Will had to depend mostly on Nathan, his personal nurse, to help with his medical needs.

Louisa Clark had no goals in life, just content living in her small town, with her cafe job and athletic-obsessed boyfriend, until the cafe had to close down and render her jobless.

When the local Job Centre offered Lou a job as a carer, she had no choice but to take it, because it paid well and her family needed the money.

Turned out she had to care for Will Traynor.

What both of them didn’t know, was that each of them was about to bring something wonderful into the other’s life.

What I Liked About the Book:

1. Excellent storyline. I was truly captivated by Moyes’ brilliant writing and was immersed in the plot instantaneously. There was just something about the story that made me want to turn the page again and again.

2. The fact that Moyes’ dealt with a debatable real-life ethical issue in the story made the book all the more thought provoking. The way she brought this topic into the plot was seamless and not at all awkward. I couldn’t help pondering over the issue after finishing reading it! I appreciated Moyes for allowing readers to kind of see both sides of the argument, and then leaving it to us to decide the answer for ourselves.  

3. The characters blew me away! Both Will and Louisa were really awesome leads and I felt so attached to them. I liked that Moyes showed us the different sides to their characters and personalities, flaws and all. Character development was also very well written and I thought the highlight of the book was the relationship dynamics between Will and Lou. It was very genuine, not the least contrived. I appreciated too the build-up to their romance, because I could then see the progress clearly which made it much more real.

There were a few chapters with POV of the other characters involved, such as Lou’s family members, Will’s family members, and even Nathan. I thought these were great additions to the story because it was somehow vital for me to see what the other people around Will and Lou thought.

4. Fine balance of hilarious and emotional moments. There were a few instances which made me laugh out loud, and then there were those which made me sad. I would say the story was an emotional roller-coaster!

5. I actually did like the ending. It had a sense of closure to it.

What I Didn’t:

1. Not long enough! Hehe.

Verdict:

"Me Before You" was definitely one of the best books I’ve read thus far, and judging from the insanely high rating on goodreads, other readers might think likewise. I strongly urge you to pick this up, because it’ll be a very worthy book to read.

Rating: 5/5

Book Review: The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner #2)

To be completely honest, I’m still clueless as to why this group of people are put in an experiment. Like seriously, what’s the OBJECTIVE?? There’s this talk about the Cure and everything and that the experiment is going to help figure something about the Flare, but it’s all so vague.

Anyway, despite that, I thought the second book was heaps better than the first!

The Story:

Picking up from the first book, Thomas and the rest of the Gladers were rescued by a group of mysterious strangers to a dorm, and it seemed that everything’s okay. But when they woke up to crazy, diseased humans known as Cranks appearing at the windows, they knew something was off.

It’s the next phase of the Trials.

What I Liked About “The Scorch Trials”:

1. The plot was better executed and much more complex and intricate than the previous instalment. Plenty of twists and surprises made the reading a thrill!

2. More action and gripping scenes in book 2, plus gruesome deaths abound.

3. I could connect with Thomas better in this! Glad that his character was fleshed out this time and I could finally root for him. His emotions and internal struggles were portrayed better too.

4. New characters! Worthy ones.

What I Didn’t:

1. Still didn’t explain in detail about the Flare and the Cure. Hopefully book 3 has it all.

2. Minho sort of became a little unlikable to me.

3. Less screen-time for Newt!

Verdict:

Definitely much more enjoyable than the first book. I thought Dasher did a great job with the storyline but I wished he would have explained things more.

Rating: 4/5

Book Review: The Downside of Being Charlie

So……I think I kind of underestimated this book in the beginning.

It eventually turned out to be quite a fleshy novel as my reading progressed towards the middle.

Not to mention it being a very heartfelt and honest story told from the point of Charlie, an 18-year-old with plenty of first-world problems.

The Story:

After being persuaded to go to fat camp, Charlie Grisner lost 30 pounds over the summer and is ready to start his senior year at high school. On the surface, everything seems to be going well, except:

1. His Mom has left (again).

2. He’s sharing a locker with school outcast and LOTR fanatic Tanya Bate.

3. A complicated relationship with crush Charlotte VanderKleaton.

4. His Dad isn’t who he thinks he is.

5. Another complicated relationship with……food.

With a photography competition that guarantees a scholarship to a prestigious college for the winner, Charlie needs to find out what represents his current situation, and at the same time, try to figure out how to put things back together again.

What I Liked About the Book:

1. I thought the plot was pretty well executed. Sure it might be a little cliche, but I felt that it was excellently written what with all the intricacies and twists.

2. The strongest aspect of the book for me was the character Charlie and his emotion portrayal. I could clearly see his internal struggles (feel even), and how he responded to everything that happened in his life. There was significant character development as well, which I appreciated all the more. Overall, I really connected with Charlie.

3. The emotional scenes did make me tear up.

4. Happy ending!

What I Didn’t:

1. The book started out a little rough, especially with Charlie’s character, but I was glad that it became better as my reading progressed.

2. Stereotypical high school personalities. I wished the writer could have come up with something different. Though Charlie’s best friend, Ahmed, was actually kind of unique and cool!

Verdict:

"The Downside of Being Charlie" was a depressing, heart-aching, yet triumphant read of a teenager plagued with domestic issues. I’d recommend it in a heartbeat!

Rating: 4/5