A Series of Unfortunate Events Collection: Books 7-9 by Lemony Snicket

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events second season has hit Netflix and I realized that I was missing three books to catch up with the season. As I tried to read it before watching it, I ended up not be able to resist. At this point, I’m done the season and the TV Binge is coming up very soon, however, I did end up finishing to the book that catches up with the TV series. The last few times, I’ve bought them in 3 books collections and this time, I was working out the price and this one was still more economical. Hence, why these posts are structured this way. If you missed the review for the first 6 books, here are the links below:

Books 1-3 Reviews
Books 4-6 Reviews

Now for the reviews for the next 3 books! I apologize in advance if this post gets longer than usual.

A Series of Unfortunate Events Collection: Books 7-9
by: Lemony Snicket

A Series of Unfortunate Events

This electronic collection of volumes 7 through 9 in A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket is the e-equivalent of having three ghastly accidents right in a row. Contained here are such unpleasantries as kidnapping, disguise, murder, paperwork, another disguise, heart-shaped balloons, false allegations, stiletto heels, a shattered crystal ball, a cryptic map, an irritating song, and quite a few more disguises, all bundled together into a continuous barrage of horror and dismay. – Goodreads

Book 7: The Vile Village

After the Ersatz Elevator, the Baudelaire orphans are shipped off by Mr. Poe to try out a new program called “it takes a village.” They agree because they finally see the initials VFD again and follow the clue to maybe finding their kidnapped friends, the Quagmires. They soon realize that VFD stands for Village of Fowl Devotees and this town is infested by a lot of crows and even more rules than one could count. Theu are fostered with a scared guardian called Hector and sent to do the everyone’s chores. If the previous three books are in the right direction, this story sets off some more of the same like a new group of oblivious people but also creates more action and tension as the secret organization they are seeking is a bit more enlightened. Plus, there are some puzzle solving as they track down the Quagmires and some funny and tragic moments along with the staple puns and phrases to add in that extra bit for the children readers to be acquainted in this fun way to learn some new vocabulary while indulging in a new story.

Theres a lot to love about The Vile Village. The characters are very colorful for one and somehow the dilemmas or situations the Baudelaires get stuck in alwayd might end in one way or another in despair but this one ends with a victory or two or at least a little hope. With all the bad that has happened since the beginning even a little something going their way is a good thing.

Book 8: The Hostile Hospital

After the Baudelaires escape from VFD and now things are a little good since they did find the Quagmires, they find themselves in somewhat of a pickle as they are wrongly accused of murder leaving Count Olaf to be able to wander freely especially since he ia presumed dead but frames another. The Baudelaires meet the blissfully ignorant singing crew called VFD, Volunteers Fighting Diseases and end up at Heimlich Hospital. At the Hospital, they find another crucial and hopeful clue and this time do escape for the most part as they end up in a risky situation as well. Count Olaf and his crew are quite silly to say the least but they also are quite ruthless in their ways especially when their silly solutions are always believed by the clueless characters they encounter. It makes us wonder if it is a social commentary on the ignorance of society. Regardless of that, this one is a nailbiting story. The tensions ramps up as the orphans learn how to use Olaf’s tactics against him and start playing a little more smart to survive.

The Hostile Hospital ramps uo the danger but rewards the orphans with a little more hope. Perhaps for children, they will see these orphans and not see how they haven’t learned but part of growing up is learning to adapt and the speck of reality here is seeing the orphans each grow a little and sometimes make hard choices that question their morals to make it through a dire situation.

Book 9: The Carnivorous Carnival

The tension definitely gets higher as this episode starts with the Baudelaire orphans’ escape in the trunk of Count Olaf’s car and end up at this deserted and worn out carnival called Caligari Carnival. With their wits, they try to mimic Count Olaf and get into a disguise to hopefully figure out more about VFD as the carnival leader and resident fortune teller, Madame Lulu has the symbol there. As this story ends, the orphans have never been in more danger than before. Hard to imagine, but its true.

With that said, The Carnivorous Carnival is a lot of fun moments. There is a lot of great characters here especially with yet again more oblivious people particularly the House of Freaks, but then they are rejected normal people who are made to believe that they are freaks when in reality they aren’t and just being accepted somewhere makes them a little easily convinced into doing things to improve their life. It is one of the features that makes us cheer for the orphans as they are starting to have a few wins as they are learning more and meeting more people but still showing how each of their characters are developing. They should after 8 books before it and thrown into perilous situation after another and really only having each other to get out of these situations. The dark humor here works great. There’s a lot of love for this book that was another page turner. At this point, the story is pushed forward by how connected you are with these characters. Somehow, as much as these stories are linked, they never really need to know the previous book to keep reading which keeps it relatively self-contained. However, this is the first one that truly ends with a cliff-hanger.

Overall…

A Series of Unfortunate Events ramps up on the tension and danger elements for the Baudelaire orphans. It has some great danger elements and keeps with the vocabulary and popular phrase learning for the educational elements for the younger audience. As dark as the stories got, it still retained a bit of silliness in all its evil. Perhaps its the first time we start noticing the little social commentaries but it manages to constantly use a wide array of clueless characters which in all their useless and incompetence provides a level of entertainment but it accentuates how smart these children are and how they are adapting to their situations to try to escape from the grasp of Count Olaf. Its a fun collection to read and elevates the series for sure.

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Mask Beneath Her Face by Rafael Chandler

Mask Beneath Her Face
by Rafael Chandler

Mask Beneath her Face

*Received in exchange for honest review*

Publication Date: October 14, 2017
Genre: Horror/Thriller

Synopsis

During the 1980s, slashers terrorized America. With machetes and masks, these unstoppable killers stalked college campuses, quiet suburbs, and lakeside cabins.
Thirty years ago, Bobbi Metzger survived a massacre at her 16th birthday party. She spent decades putting her life back together.
Tonight, Bobbi will face a new killer: a high-tech slasher hell-bent on opening the doorway to an abyss of unimaginable horror.
How long can Bobbi survive this nightmare? What will she do to protect the people she loves? How much blood is she willing to spill?

Goodreads

Review

I don’t have a particular habit to read horror novels in general but I have read a few thrillers later and am generally a fan of the genre. Mask Beneath Her Face is a well-written novel. Being a fan of the slasher movie genre, this book hit all the right chords. The pacing was a little bit slow in the beginning but it picks up really quickly as the characters become established and we learn about each of these four characters and the past that haunts them along with the slasher they are avoiding. The characters are unique in personality making them each have their value in the survival. By the time we reach halfway, its a thrilling read right to the end.

There are few horrors I read that get under my skin, even if I don’t read a lot of horror in general however, as a horror thriller, Mask Beneath Her Face delivered both in the thriller and the horror department, a rare thing to achieve in my opinion. There’s a nice psychological element here that works into the mix along with some great twists along the way and some well-thought out plots and slasher designs. The writing gave it a vivid imagery to help feel more immersed in the situations the characters were caught in.

Overall, Mask Beneath Her Face is a great read. A slow start but quickly builds enough tension to create the thrills and horror and by the time, we are hurling towards the ending, it truly got under my skin.

Goodreads: 4 out of 5 stars

Author Bio

Rafael Chandler

Rafael Chandler writes novels (Hexcommunicated, The Astounding Antagonists), video games (SOCOM 4, Rainbow Six: Lockdown, MAG), and tabletop role-playing games (Teratic Tome, Lusus Naturae). He’s a metalhead, a kaijuphile, and a gorehound.

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Website
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Game Warp Special: Ready Player One – Book Discussion

A little change of pace over at Game Warp Podcast this week. Paired with the release of Ready Player One, we review and discuss the source material, the novel of the same name by Ernest Cline. At the same time, we talk about the 80s references and execution while also looking at what we saw in the trailers and our expectations from the movie.

This is pretty much a podcast show with only images here and there. If you prefer the audio version, you can find it HERE.

Thanks for watching! Hope you enjoyed!
What are your thoughts on the book Ready Player One?

P.S. I Still Love You (To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before #2) by Jenny Han

If you missed the review of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, check it out here.

Rarely do I have back to back book reviews of the same series but To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before was so awesome that I couldn’t resist to finish up the sequel, P.S. I Still Love You. And here we are with the review.

P.S. I Still Love You
(To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before)
by: Jenny Han

p.s. i still love you

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once? – Goodreads

Let’s just get this straight that P.S. I Still Love You is still quite the page turner. I finished it almost in one sitting and that is something that I haven’t done in quite a long time. However, as a sequel, this one does fall flat every once in a while. A few things going on here was fairly generic and I wasn’t particularly in agreement with some of the choices that Lara Jean made. But, one thing is for certain, Jenny Han writes and crafts some fantastic characters.

The Song sisters each are fun to read in their own way along with their dad in the little moments that they have. Lara Jean in particular is our girl here as the main character and she is very believable. 31 year old me may not agree with her choices but I still think back that 19 year old me in my first relationship when I had my first love and how I felt a lot of similar feelings. What is love, right? What is the right way to fall in love? Everyone approaches it differently and so does Lara Jean and Peter. Everyone also has their own burdens and baggage that they don’t want to share or just can’t.  It brings in the question of trust and loyalty. And its these traits that make them realistic and believable. Be it Lara Jean or Peter or the new addition, John. Its hard to wipe away the fact that they all are great to read and its even more apparent how well the characters are crafted and easy to connect to when their decisions evoke different feelings as I read it.

P.S. I Still Love You puts Lara Jean into a dilemma as she approaches her first real relationship. Its essentially the emotions of how much space to give and what type of girlfriend she wants to be and really how many barriers can you set or even how many rules can you make to prevent heartbreak? All these questions come together to craft up this first love and first relationship experience. Add in another love interest and neglect and lack of self-confidence and there you go. I mentioned before that this story has its faults of being generic but it delivers on being realistic although there are some aspects here that I don’t quite agree with. With that said, its more of a personal preference that I nitpick upon. It doesn’t wipe away the fact that this is a very fun novel to read.

Overall, P.S. I Still Love You is a worthy sequel. It lacks a little bit of the quirk and individuality that stood out in the first book, however its realistic and engaging characters definitely made this one a page turner.

 

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Its felt like a while since I’ve dived into a YA and Romance novel. Separately, I’ve read each of those genres and nothing has really stood out in a while however, I’ve heard some good things about To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before so I was pretty excited to check this one out and toss those doubts out the window and give this one a chance. I didn’t know that this novel was the first book of a trilogy. The third book will come out this year, so its time to check it out, I’d assume.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
(To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #1)
By: Jenny Han

to all the boys i've loved before

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?
Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control. – Goodreads

There’s something so honest about reading To All The Boys That I’ve Loved Before that pulled me into the story right from the beginning. Its been a while that I haven’t been that immersed into a book. Jenny Han definitely has a nice touch with bringing the Song girls to life and particularly our main character here, Lara Jean. Usually, we get stories about being chased or wanting a guy really badly. This story takes a refreshing new angle of how when the boys she loved before learns about her feelings, particularly one that she shouldn’t be having feeling for and she decides to fake it with another guy she used to love both sides trying to find their own way out that she gets caught up in something she doesn’t really understand anything about.

Its important to realize, and its what makes this story great that love comes in many forms as we grow up. When we do encounter love the first time, it might not be so apparent to realize until an epiphany hits and that can come at any time. Regardless, it takes courage to let go of fear of being hurt to hop into a relationship, no matter how old, and its because of all this, that To All The Boys That I’ve Love Before truly grabbed me. It tugged a little at my heartstrings but also gave a lot of really fun and satisfying moments while also giving enough drama and friction to make it engaging to keep wanting to see where Lara Jean’s choices would lead it.

At the same time, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before also feels a bit like a teen comedy, something like The Edge of Seventeen or The First Time sort of thing, where its not only about the romance but also about Lara Jean’s personal growth as she embraces her feelings. People frequenting here probably hear me talking about that a lot, but thats because I always find the best stories, any kind of stories really, excel when they manage to create characters that change and grow. They learn to be a better form of themselves and the people that are around them contribute to them learning how to not be afraid to dig a little deeper in themselves and take chances which is exactly how Lara Jean’s character is. She’s not only smart and caring, but while she stays in her little space and doesn’t stand out, she learns how to break out of that shell and see her worth and find her confidence.

Overall, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was an absolute page-turner. To tell you  how much I loved it, I actually picked up the second book right away and have started reading it as this review goes live. I guess however, that this does take me to a final point which I always talk about in series and thats self-containment. This book literally ends on a cliffhanger, while I’m not a huge fan of that, it feels fairly obvious what her cliffhanger was leaning towards so it was a little easier to forgive. With that said, the book did so many things right and I loved how it was structured and written and the characters that I ended up giving it 5 stars on Goodreads, so I guess that shows how much I do love it.

The Dream of the Butterfly Vol. 1: Rabbits on the Moon by Richard Marazano & Luo Yin

The Dream of the Butterfly
Vol.1: Rabbits on the Moon

dream of the butterfly

By: Richard Marazano
Illustrated by: Luo Yin

Tutu is lost in a village where winter is eternal and the rabbits of the secret police find her guilty of one of the worst crimes imaginable—being a little girl! The Emperor of this strange town holds the key to her redemption, but it will come at a price. – Goodreads

Dream of the Butterfly is a beautifully drawn graphic novel heavily inspired by Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. It is no surprise that I am a huge fan of Studio Ghibli and that is probably th cover for this graphic novel caught my eye. I have no problem with being inspired by someone else and while some scenes feel very reminiscent of Spirited Away, it still has a decent flow of events, perhaps at times it loses itself in the trivial things but as a starting novel for a series, it feels like the idea of where the story goes is well enough. At the same time, the story also seems to revolve around a Chinese parable/folklore, especially apparent with its Volume 1 title about rabbits on the moon which is why on Moon Festival tins, you usually see a rabbit hopping around the Moon Goddess. At the same time, The Dream of the Butterfly is an actual Taoist philosophy sort of story which somewhat may link to the story here.  I appreciate that mostly because Chinese parables and Classic novels offer some incredible material that hasn’t quite made it into the Western world yet.

The only issue of the first volume of The Dream of the Butterfly is that it always feels like it is setting up the story for a more exciting second volume. While there were events to highlight the mysterious world that our main character has fallen into and the odd and quirky anthropomorphic characters she encounters, there creates too many mysteries and not really a lot of answers which makes it somewhat of a fruitless read. It may be the first book but in terms of pacing and set up, it might benefit from finding a better balance.

With that said, while its inspirations are very obvious, its art and world are respectively beautiful and intriguing to dive into. The first volume may have worked hard to set up and created some forced situations and had some pacing issues however, now that a good few events and characters are laid out, the second volume will hopefully get into much more intriguing things. If you are a fan of the Studio Ghibli and Alice in Wonderland sort of world, this is a decent choice to check out.

Goodreads: 3/5 (honestly, if Goodreads did half points, it would be a 3.5/5)

Received from Netgalley in exchange for honest review

Blog Tour: My Sweet Friend by H.A. Leuschel [Review + Giveaway]

My Sweet Friend Blog Tour

My Sweet Friend
by: H.A. Leuschel

my sweet friend

Publication Date: December 6, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Women’s Fiction

Synopsis

A stand-alone novella from the author of Manipulated Lives

A perfect friend … or a perfect impostor?
Alexa is an energetic and charismatic professional and the new member of a Parisian PR company where she quickly befriends her colleagues Rosie and Jack. She brings a much-needed breath of fresh air into the office and ambitiously throws herself into her new job and friendships.
But is Alexa all she claims to be?
As her life intertwines with Rosie and Jack’s, they must all decide what separates truth from fiction. Will the stories that unfold unite or divide them? Can first impressions ever be trusted?
In this original novella, H.A. Leuschel evokes the powerful hold of appearances and what a person is prepared to do to keep up the facade. If you like thought-provoking and compelling reads with intriguing characters, My Sweet Friend is for you.

Goodreads

Purchase link here

Review

My Sweet Friend is a well-paced and thought provoking character study. It structures the novella around the point of views of its two main characters, Rosie and Alexa. We soon learn that they were quick to become very good friends after Alexa gets hired to their office, both in the sales and marketing team. However, as it switches between a broken down Alexa on holiday in Biarritz and frantically scrambling to get a project done Rosie in Paris, the lies, secrets and manipulation start surfacing to the top. We start seeing the true colors of these characters, particularly Alexa. There’s a lot to love in this novella. Its writing style is fantastic and the description is incredibly vivid, making the characters come alive. This novella is also a breath of fresh air as it looks at a friendship between two women instead of a romance. While a third character, Jack, who is the manager gets involved as well as the ladies fight for his affection, he never becomes much of a key role. The first person narrative goes very well for this novella and the story it wants to tell.

Overall, My Sweet Friend is a really intriguing novella. Its paced well and takes its readers on a few mind games filled with lies and manipulation in this seemingly sweet friendship that breaks down as the characters reveal their true colors. My only criticism would be that the ending felt slightly lackluster, although to be fair, I have no idea how I would have preferred it to have ended. It still works in a thought-provoking way.

Goodreads: 4 out of 5 stars

Author Bio

H.A. Leuschel

Helene Andrea Leuschel grew up in Belgium where she gained a Licentiate in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She now lives with her husband and two children in Portugal and recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and teaches yoga.

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Giveaway

Enter for your chance to win a digital copy (Format of Choice) of My Sweet Friend
Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0e7c6a8f28/?

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