Monday 27 February 2017

Caraval: Stephanie Garber | Book Review | Faith

Whatever you've heard about Caraval, it doesn't compare to the reality. It's more than just a game or a performance. It's the closest you'll ever find to magic in this world . . . 

Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever

This review is SPOILER-FREE!

Friday 17 February 2017

Shadowhunters | How Are Thou Fallen | 2x07 | Review & Discussion | Faith

This was a very interesting episode of Shadowhunters, as usual I found that there were things that I liked and there were aspects of the show where I was very unsettled, all which I will be discussing in this episode review! 

As mentioned in past reviews/discussions, they're including a lot of book content in the episodes. And while it's not from the book we associate with the season, it is still book content. And you know, as a book reader, I am very grateful because we are seeing a lot of stuff we never got to see in the first season. And because of this, I have a greater respect for the writers and show runners.

So, we see an angel in this episode---which was a very big thing that happened in the books. For the most part, I was quite happy with how they portrayed that aspect of the story. Ever since I was little, angels have always been very fascinating to me so to see it on screen and see a scene that closely resembled the scene from the book, it was very chilling in a way. I think that the way they expressed the angels pain and how they actors portrayed it---it all blended together to create a very unique, engaging and chilling scene which I thought was something very fitting for the show.

However, the actor they cast as the angel Ithuriel was an old man. At first, I thought that maybe this was just his "Human form" after being tortured by Valentine, and then once he was freed he would become this magnificent young being. This was something very minor but bothered me a little bit because I think the age of the actor took away from the beauty of what an angel is. I was very much expecting to see Ithuriel spread his wings and break into his true form which we did see, but he literally just sprouted wings and shot into the sky. The way it ended was very good but I was still bothered by the casting.

Regarding the whole Clary with angel blood thing---um there was a little bit of a plot hole. Jace has angel blood so why wasn't he reacting in the same way as Clary. What my brain is trying to convince me is that maybe Ithuriel knows about Jaces angel blood but just chose Clary to communicate with because of the runes. An angel wouldn't just show those visions (at the end of the episode) to anyone, so clearly he knows something and probably knows about Jace.

The concept and background of Yin Fen is a little bit different in the show which in a way I understand, but in the show it does not seem anywhere near as dangerous as it was in The Infernal Devices. I feel like since they downgraded it to being a form of vampire venom and the way it's scripted we don't really get the sense of what it can do to someone. It's highly addictive and can kill you, and while we get a sense of that, it's very mild in the show. However the writers could also just be letting this be a slow burn.

We were getting hints of Climon in this episode! I've never really shipped Simon and Clary, I honestly just want it to happen because of the sake of the books. What I will say is that I really enjoy how they're developing their romantic relationship, with each episode it's growing and growing and this way it won't be too forced.

I'm so not used to Jace being Jace on this show so whenever it happens---I'm always taken by surprise. I was honestly kinda fed up with him in this episode because of how cocky he was getting and then there was just this moment where I was like---WAIT, IT'S JACE.

There was also this great moment between him and Luke where he mentioned Clary and he got up straight away. #CLACE

And you know Shadohwunters kind of has a history of having some really awesome moments and they ruin it with a certain rune... YEAH THE FREAKING SHAPESHIFTER RUNE. I hate it, it's so stupid and it's such cop out. 

Let's talk about Maia, she's such a fun character and I absolutely love the actress who plays her. She's so, so wonderful and I'm so looking forward to see how Maia develops in the future upcoming episodes.

Valentine and Luke had a great scene together that really hinted at their history which we already know obviously. I cannot express how much I love Alan Van Sprang as Valentine, he's so sinister and so not right in the head but it's so much fun getting to see him bring this character to life.

The fight scenes in this episode were fantastic. A little unrealistic that Jace would lose his sword in the first ten seconds of a fight and Clary would take on two Shadowhunters...Yeah, the show still has to work on flow and consistency.

Those were all of my thoughts on episode 7, I didn't write a review for episode six because one, no time and I was very under whelmed by that episode if I'm going to be quite honest.

I hope you enjoyed reading this review!

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Friday 10 February 2017

Why I didn't like Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas | Book Review | Faith

This is most likely an unpopular opinion. Sarah J. Maas is worshipped by a lot of people in the YA book community, including myself. I do believe that she is a very strong writer and I have loved so many of the books that she has released. However, Empire of Storms was the first of her works where I felt very unsatisfied. Now, there are a number of topics that I will be discussing, and some of these might be controversial. So if you don't want to read about someone pointing out things about Sarah J. Maas's Empire of Storms, I suggest you click away and find another post to read.

One of the main things that I disliked about this book was the development of both the story and the characters. This was something that only just recently stood out to me as unrealistic. There was not really one book in this series where Celeana/Aelin didn't have some sort of romantic interest. You know---I was fine with the love triangle but after the first two books, it's just completely dismissed after it was made into this huge thing in the first two books. 

I did not view the romantic relationships in this book in a good way, I didn't view them as a way to advance plot points or even characters, to me it was simply there to merely entertain the reader with all of the "hot" stuff that was happening in the book. In my eyes it was a filler to make the book longer than it needed to be.

Some readers---okay a lot of readers enjoy book content like this. While I can tolerate it, it's only to a certain extent. And while some may rate books highly because of this, I don't because I base my ratings on more than just the events that occur. For me it's like half structure and half events. So you could probably imagine my disappointment when both of these things let me down when I read this book.

Another aspect of the book that I didn't really appreciate was the development of the characters. As mentioned before, I felt as if the development was very unrealistic and for me it became so bad that I started to not care for the characters. I lost interest with the characters and the storyline which is something that is quite unfortunate considering how much I love these books.

To me, and as a fan of Sarah J. Maas's works, I know what a good book from her looks like. And I'm not trying to say that this was the worst book in the entire world, it was just decent. Compared to her other works, this was the weakest one in my opinion. And I believe that this is due to her being on contract to write two books a year. So therefore, not as much effort goes into each of the novels she creates and writes.

Something else that surrounds this series in particular is diversity. And for some reason, I have always been very afraid to talk about it but I feel like this book is the perfect way to express my feelings.  In terms of reality, Empire of Storms is unrealistic. Yes, some of you may be saying that this book is a fantasy and that real life doesn't have to apply to these types of books. While that may be true, does it make it normal--- or even realistic to the world? Even if it's a fantasy, there are still things that should apply to the novel itself.

Every character is white---and if not all most of them are white. And not only this, everyone is straight. I am a person of colour and I have never seen myself in books, so if someone like me can't---what is someone else going through? And I can't really speak on behalf of the LTBQ+ community because I'm straight, but there are so many people out there who are and they are the ones who read  these books and feel that they are not represented.

This needs to change, not just with this book but just in YA in general.

And just because something needs to change, it does not mean we have to target authors and publishers in a negative manner. To be clear, just because someone doesn't write diverse books, it does not make them a racist.

With representation, it's so easy to include a person of colour or someone who isn't straight but does that mean it's a good representation of the character, the culture or their sexuality? No. We don't just need representation of diverse characters, we need GOOD representation that will let people see themselves in the characters they read about, that empower them and that make them feel proud to be who they are.

And it may seem like I'm rating this book based on the diversity aspect. While diversity is important to me, I don't rate them low solely based on that one aspect of that book.

So there were my thoughts on this book, I still will continue reading Sarah J. Maas's books---and hopefully I will continue to love them.

What were your thoughts on this book? TELL ME.

I hope you enjoyed reading this review!

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Saturday 4 February 2017

January Wrap Up | 2017 | Faith

Despite my exams being this month, I somehow managed to read a good amount of books. How did I manage to read during this very stressful time? I don't know. Anyway, let's get on with the wrap up.

The first book is called, The Case of Beasts: Explore The Film Wizardry of Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find them. I saw this book in the store and was like, I need that in my life and now it is. I have always wanted the original Harry Potter film wizardry books but never got around to it. However, I did read this one and if you're a film fan and love to know things you never knew you wanted to know, I would highly suggest picking a book like this up. It was so much fun to read about all of the different characters, and see the amount of detail that went into the props and sets. It was all just so very fascinating. 

The second book I read was the first in The Trials of Apollo series, The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan. I thought that the premise of this book was very interesting, and fun to read about but it wasn't my favourite Rick Riordan book. It was a very good book but if I were to compare my enjoyment of this one to his other works, I would most definitely pick the other ones. Another thing is that I felt like this was a little too "middle grade" for my taste. I find that when this happens, my enjoyment kind of just spirals down. Anyway, I would rate this a 4 out of 5 stars.

Stalking Jack the Ripper by: Kerri Maniscalo was recommended to me by Sabrina or Library Luv from Beyond the Book Reviews. I didn't really know what to expect from this book. There wasn't really that much hype surrounding it, but it was a book that I had seen floating around. I love historical fiction--mystery is not something I would usually read but I really loved it in this book. The writing style is something that I found to be unique and the author had a very different voice that I haven't recently seen in YA.

The next book I read was Empire of Storms, the fifth book in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. I had such hope for this book, but for some reason I just didn't like it... I honestly feel like this is a very unpopular opinion which it probably is. There are several reasons why I disliked this book as much as I did, I know very few have the same opinions as I do, and truthfully I am very glad that the majority of people who have read this book loved it. I'm not here to try and convince you to hate this book. I still love this series, and remain a fan of Sarah J. Maas. However, I felt that this book did not live up to the potential I thought it had.

In my eyes, there was a lack of care that went into this book. The development felt off to me, I lost all interest I had in the characters and the story. And while written well---it wasn't good enough in my opinion. I kind of feel like with each Throne of Glass book my interest in the books goes down and that is something that I don't want to happen.

Another aspect of the book that I personally did not like but usually don't mind was all of the sexual content. I honestly do not mind it in books but all of the romantic and sexual stuff felt so uncomfortable and forced. To me, it wasn't really there to advance anyones romantic partnership but to merely entertain the reader with all of the "hot" stuff that was happening.

Also, you know what's recently come to my attention? The lack of diversity.

Yeah I know, it's a fantasy but I'm just saying just because it's a fantasy it does not mean that diversity is not important. It's very unrealistic to have all white, all straight characters... Honestly I just really want to see more diverse fantasy out there that's I dunno---mainstream?

Was this book terrible? No.

Was it fantastic? No.

Did I love it? No.

Did I force myself to read it purely based on the fact that I assigned it to myself for a class? Yes.

Am I still a fan of Sarah J. Maas? OF COURSE.

This book didn't live up to the potential I believed it had, and I will continue to read her books despite my dislike for this book. I would rate this book a 3 out of 5 stars.

That was my wrap up! I hope you enjoyed reading this---and I hope you enjoyed the new layout. It's very new and I decided to try this out as I was never pleased with the way I formatted it before. 

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Thursday 2 February 2017

Shadowhunters | Dust & Shadows | 2x05 | Review & Discussion | Faith

Clary takes desperate and extreme actions after the attack on the Institute leaves her devastated.

This review will contain SPOILERS!