Bookish Gift Guide | 2015 Holidays #2

Hey everybody! 🙂

Here’s the second post for the Bookish Gift Guide. This time, it’s featuring gifts for…

The YA Aficionado

fangirl book

+ “Fangirl” Print Book Cover ($8.00)-A unique vintage book cover print for the Rainbow Rowell fangirl— haha, see what I did there?–in your life. It’s printed over a page from an old encyclopedia.

paper towns shirt.jpg

+ “Paper Towns” Quote T-shirt ($15.00)– For those who long to wander like Margo and Quentin did in John Green’s renowned novel Paper Towns.

katniss everdeen funko pop

+ Katniss Everdeen Funko Pop! Figurine ($8.98)– This adorable vinyl Katniss figurine is sure to bring a smile to the face of any face of anyone who likes the Hunger Games series.

mazre runner charms

+ Maze Runner Series Charm Bracelet ($23.55)– This charm bracelet features four mini versions of the novels of the Maze Runner series—and they really open up!

divergent notebook

+ “Divergent” Quotes Spiral-Bound Notebook ($15.88)– Covered in quotes and graphics from the dystopian YA novel Divergent, this notebook is perfect to jot down thoughts in the most Dauntless way possible.

library card socks

+ Library Card Socks ($10.00)– Yup, these cozy socks are designed to look like an empty library card! They’re great for cuddling up with a good novel by the fireplace on a snowy evening.

Thanks for reading everyone. Here’s Part I of the 2015 Holiday Gift Guide if you’d like to check it out. 🙂

❀ Yasimone

Book Review || Red Queen

Author: Victoria Aveyard

Publishing Company: Harper Collins

Release Year: 2015

Genre(s): YA, Dystopia, Fantasy

Series: Red Queen Series (Book One)

My Summary

Mare Barrow is a Red in a world divided by blood. Silvers are the upper-class, the royals, the ones with fantastic powers straight out of a fairytale. Reds, like Mare and the rest of her family, are the worker class, the regulars, the ones who watch in bitter awe at the Silvers’ strength and ruthless, wasteful ways. Mare and her family are just another one of the average Red families in their poverty-stricken village, the Stilts, between Mare’s pickpocketing and her sister Gisa’s embroidery skills, they make do. What little they have comes crashing down when palace guards show up at their house in the middle of the night and take Mare to work at the palace of the royal family of Norta. There, all too suddenly, in a strange twist of events, Mare discovers she has powers—controlling electricity—that leave even the Silvers reverent and is thrown full-force into the world of nobility as a pawn. red queen.jpgKing Tiberias and his snakelike wife, Queen Elara, declare her to be the long-lost daughter of a Silver and betroth her to the younger son Maven, despite her full Red blood. Everything is strange and foreign, and Mare must watch her every move; her life is at stake. It doesn’t help the situation that a war is being waged in the meantime and unrest is brewing in the nation’s Red population. Maven and Mare end up befriend each other and join a rebel group, the Scarlet Guard, trying to end the tyrannical Silver rule. As if hiding her identity and her allegiance from the Silvers is hard enough, she’s slowly falling in love the two princes, Maven and Cal, and doesn’t know which one to choose. Will Mare make it out of this mess alive, or will her secrets destroy her?

My Thoughts

I’ll be straightforward with you all: I didn’t exactly expect to enjoy this novel. I began reading it just for the sake of reading and ended up finishing it pleasantly surprised and looking forward to the next book in the Red Queen series. If you’ve ever read my review of The Selection, you’ll know that novels which mix dystopian worlds and monarchy-style governments aren’t exactly my cup of tea. 😛 Red Queen challenged my views by providing a fresh, compelling fusion-genre book that I rather liked.

The writing itself is great. It’s descriptive and vivid and captivating, and much better than you would expect of a debut author. 🙂 A job well done on Victoria Aveyard’s part. I also liked that the plot had so many interesting twists and turns Some aspects of the plot were a bit too familiar—downtrodden poor, self-doubt, sudden major life change, love triangle, rebellion. I felt at times that it took a pinch of personality from multiple dystopian series, added in a smidgen of fantasy, and voilĂ ! Overall, though, it was fairly good. It drags a bit towards the end of the middle but picks up wonderfully at the conclusion. The extremely unexpected plot twist in the last few chapters is incredible. You will definitely want to have the next book, Glass Sword, just to find out what happens. (Glass Sword comes out in February of next year, by the way.)

Character-wise, Red Queen was nicely developed. Mare is a relatable, head-strong, clever heroine. It’s hard not to like her and her endearingly bold personality. The supporting characters (Maven, Cal,  Queen Elara, Mare’s childhood friend Kilorn, Cal’s betrothed Evangeline, Mare’s family,  and many more) are all unique and fun to dislike or root for. Their supernatural powers—or lack thereof—made them feel a bit too two-dimensional for my taste at times, but their interactions were generally believable and interesting. The one interaction between the characters I did not like much was the Mare-Maven-Cal love triangle. It felt rather weak and forced. :/

That being said, everything exceeded my expectations and left me wanting more. If you’re looking for a book with a captivating combination of genres and an exciting, suspenseful storyline, Red Queen is just the novel for you. 🙂

Happy December, by the way! How is the year over already? 😀

❀ Yasimone

Insurgent Movie Review!

I’ve got news…

I have seen Insurgent!

Here are the vital stats of the movie:

  • Release Date: March 20th, 2015
  • Genre: Science fiction film/Thriller (Dystopia)
  • Time: 1 hour 59 minutes
  • Director: Robert Schwentke
  • Prequel: Divergent
  • Main Cast: Shailene Woodley (Tris Prior), Theo James (Tobias Eaton), Ansel Elgort (Caleb Prior), Kate Winslet (Jeanine Matthews), Miles Teller (Peter), ZoĂ« Kravitz (Christina)

And, here’s the official summary of the movie.

“Now on the run from Jeanine (Kate Winslet) and the rest of the power-hungry Erudites, Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) search for allies and answers in the ruins of Chicago. They must find out what Tris’ family sacrificed their lives to protect and why the Erudites will do anything to stop them. Side by side, Tris and Four face one seemingly insurmountable challenge after another, as they unravel the secrets of the past and — ultimately — the future of their world.”

Now, let me just start things off by saying that this movie was truly awesome. I thought that it was a pretty accurate interpretation of the novel.

Shailene Woodley did great in her role as Tris, who during this movie had an overwhelming guilty conscience. Theo James, playing Four, also was amazing, but he seemed to have a less noticeable part than in Divergent. Ansel Elgort portrayed Tris’s cowardly, traitorous brother quite well, and Miles Teller was very memorable as the sly, funny turncoat Peter who in the end turns out not to be such a bad person. Kate Winslet, of course, dominates the screen in each of her scenes as Jeanine Matthews. I really enjoyed the high-quality acting from a great, star-studded cast.

I also loved the special effects. They were very realistic, and the serum simulations, or sims, that Tris had to go through to open the faction box were perhaps more complex and sophisticated than those in Divergent (the movie, that is). The visual effects were also very prominent in the scenes that took place in the Erudite headquarters. There are quite a few action scenes too, and it’s safe to say that they’re nail-biting, tooth-grinding, fist-clenching exciting.

Insurgent Tattoos!Another thing I was super pumped up about? I got free Insurgent temporary tattoos for watching the movie! >>  There are faction logo tattoos, tattoo wristbands with “FACTIONLESS” written on them, and a couple futuristic design ones. I think my favourite one is the band with all the faction signs on it— very Divergent. 😉 They’re really cool and I can’t wait to put them on!

Overall, I thought that this was a must-see movie! 🙂 Sure, it deviated from the book plot a little bit, but don’t all book-based movies do that? The differences from the book worked to the film’s advantage, and it fully satisfies the expectations as a dystopian sequel. Insurgent ends with an intriguing cliffhanger, much like the book, that leaves the audience eagerly waiting for more.

Book Review || Insurgent

Author: Veronica Roth

(Before you read, you may want to check out my review of Divergent, which is the first book of the Divergent series.)

Tris and Four, who she now calls by his real name Tobias, are unsure what to do. Erudite has just attacked the peaceful Abnegation members searching for Divergents, whom they are convinced pose a threat to the well-being of the faction system, through controlling Dauntless soldiers with a serum that Erudite developed. Tris’s mother and father have both lost their lives while trying to help and prevent the attack, and Tris has just shot and killed her friend Will, who was under the influence of the control serum and tried to capture. Seeing no other options, Tris and Tobias flee to the Amity faction along with some friends. As Tris fights with her guilt, her fear, her grief, her love, and above all, her Divergence, in the safe haven, the conflict grows between the other factions. Suddenly people who they once considered “good” aren’t sure where there loyalties lie, and human nature takes over through betrayals, deaths, and new, unlikely alliances start to form as old ones shatter.

Five words: This. Is. An. Amazing. Sequel. It’s so much darker and deeper than Divergent, and the characters are no longer confined to the Dauntless initiates. We get to glimpse the lifestyles and beliefs of people form the other factions, and we learn much more about the main characters— how they deal with their emotions, how they react to the violence and loss and discord, how their actions, ration and rational alike, affect them. They are unraveled, layer by layer, so that you can actually get to know them over time; they are not stereotypical, 2D characters. They have depth, they have pasts, they have flaws.

Cruelty does not make a person dishonest, the same way bravery does not make a person kind.


On another note, I really like Tris and Tobias’s relationship in this novel: they have just enough tension between them to keep it interesting, yet not so much that it frustrates you and/or makes you want to punch Four. (Just kidding, nobody would ever want to punch Four.) 😉 ❀ I found it interesting that Roth proved in this sequel that in the end, both “good” and “bad” people want to survive, and will do whatever it takes, no matter how “Abnegation” they are. And isn’t that true even in real life? I’ve noticed that some second books from trilogies are not very noteworthy. They’re mostly those filler books in the middle, not the opening act or the grand finale. Well, this certainly cannot be said for Insurgent— this must-read is just as fast-paced, suspenseful and tense, and brilliant as Divergent! (By the way, the cliffhanger at the end? It made me go absolutely insane. Why must you do this, Veronica Roth?) 😀


Book Review || The Selection

Author: Kiera Cass

America Singer lives in IllĂ©a, where the society is divided into eight castes— the royal family which rules the land are Ones. The homeless and poorest are Eights. America’s family are Fives, meaning that their roles in society are being artists and musicians. America is happy; she even (secretly) loves a boy. ❀ However, he is a Six and outside of her caste, and America is not sure whether her mother would approve if she found out. Meanwhile, the IllĂ©an prince, Maxon, is coming of age and the Selection will soon commence. Many girls from all over the nation will apply, but only thirty-five will be picked. These elite girls will then go to the palace to live there for the next few months as the prince one by one eliminates them until only one girl is left— the one who will be his wife. America’s mother wants her to apply; so she does. Never in her wildest dreams (or nightmares) did she expect to be selected. So she must turn her back on Aspen, her love, and compete for her family. Along the way, she gathers sponsors, makes friends, and even gains rivals. Life at the palace is luxurious, except for when the rebels attack, and she and Prince Maxon, after a few mishaps, befriend each other. Just when she decides that maybe, just maybe a life with Maxon wouldn’t be so terrible, Aspen reappears— this time as a palace guard. What should she do?…

First things first— although this is not the worst book, it is not the best either. Yes, it is about a competition. No, it is not like The Hunger Games. A note about the organization of the book: 1) it has a dystopic, futuristic feel to it, 2) it has a fantasy, princess-tale feel to it, 3) it has an oppressive, monarchy government feel to it. Now that’s all fine and well, but combining those three is perhaps not the best of choices. The book is literally going in three different directions. 😐 Also, the caste system has been used for hundred of hundreds of years in places like India, and it is not a very futuristic idea. The writing is fine, though I would have appreciated a little more elaboration and description. I just thought that the plot was a little bit clichĂ©. It was rather obvious from the beginning that America would be Selected, and that love triangle at the end… well, it was slightly predictable. I also would have liked for Maxon to be than an average prince, and when he mentioned that he didn’t know the lower castes were starving, homeless, and poor, I was incredulous— do I remember this story from somewhere? (Oh, yeah, it’s from Buddha’s life: he was a prince, carefree and happy, when he walks out into his land for the first time and witnesses the suffering of his people. He then gives up his decadent lifestyle to live with the people and devotes himself to helping others.) Is he really that uninformed about his future kingdom? That said, there are some sweet and funny moments in The Selection, and if you are looking for a fun, frothy read, then this is the book for you. 😉


Book Review || Divergent

Author: Veronica Roth

Beatrice is just an average 16-year-old Abnegation girl— selfless, kind, quick to forget herself. Or so everyone thinks. Beatrice knows, that in her heart, she doesn’t want this life, doesn’t deserve it, because she is not selfless enough. Aptitude tests are coming up, and they will recommend which faction the new adults, 16-year-olds, should switch to— or stay in. What will Beatrice get? Dauntless, which the brave and courageous pick? Candor, where you cannot ever lie? Erudite, the faction with all the intellectuals and scholarly? Amity, where the people are peaceful and happy? Or Abnegation, her home faction, where she is not sure she fits in? After she takes her test, Beatrice learns that she has equal aptitude for not one, but three factions: Dauntless, Abnegation, and Erudite. She is Divergent. The test administrator tells her not to mention this to anyone, not even her family… or terrible things could follow. On the day of the Choosing Ceremony, where the teens must pick the faction to live the rest of their lives in, Beatrice is faced with a hard decision: follow her dreams and abandon her family by switching to Dauntless, or stay with her mother, father, and brother but regret the choice for the rest of her life in Abnegation (she has already decided that she most definitely does not want Erudite). At the ceremony, her brother Caleb, much to everyone’s surprise, becomes a member of Erudite. Beatrice is panicked, not wanting to stay yet not wanting to leave her parents all alone in their faction. In a moment of spontaneousness, Beatrice selects Dauntless, shocking everyone including herself. In the extremely harsh, competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris. She struggles, along with her fellow initiates, to survive initiation. They must train to shoot, throw knives, combat, and face their greatest fears through vivid simulations that delve deep into their minds. Tris finds herself making friends and, slowly but surely, falling in love with her instructor, a secretive but fascinating boy named Four. However, she soon realizes that life in her faction may not be what it seems, and that her secret— that she is Divergent— is a dangerous one to keep, one that might destroy both her and her loved ones.

Veronica Roth began writing Divergent when she was in college, and it has turned into the first book of one of the most popular trilogy describing the dystopic, very structured Chicago from Tris’ point of view and emotions. Tris is a head-strong and intelligent girl, observant of her surroundings and easy to relate to— don’t we all feel like we don’t belong sometimes? The writing of this book is fast-paced and highly suspenseful. Behind all the action, however, are meaningful themes. It touches on identity, loss, love, bravery, friendship, and above all, finding your place in society.


Book Review || The Hunger Games

Author:  Suzanne Collins

In what was once North America, there is a prosperous country called Panem. It is ruled over by the Capitol, a rich city of luxury, which is supplied by 12 districts, each with their own natural resources. Every year, the Capitol hosts a televised death match: The Hunger Games. Two “Tributes,” one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen, from each district are chosen randomly in what is called the Reaping to fight to the death until only one remains. Katniss Everdeen is a sixteen year old girl who lives in District Twelve, a small mining colony. She is extremely talented with a bow and arrow, but not with friends.  She must (illegally) hunt in the woods with her only friend, Gale, to sustain her sister and mother. The day of the Reaping, her sister is chosen as a Tribute. Katniss, panic-stricken, volunteers; Peeta Mellark is chosen as the other Tribute. Katniss and Peeta must travel to the Capitol to try to stay alive and win the Games. Katniss decides she must win, for the sake of her sister. But there can only be one Victor…

I know that this is already a very popular book, complete with its own movie, but the dystopian world in the first book of the Hunger Games trilogy, created by Suzanne Collins, is full of sophisticated details and eccentric characters, as well as heroes who have their own flaws. I can admit that this is one of my favourite books, if not my most favourite of all. I just wanted to pay homage by starting my book reviews with this incredible novel. The movies are wonderful, but don’t stop there; read the books, because the intricate flavor you get from them is incomparable.