The Zanna Function || Book Review

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Note: I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Author: Daniel Wheatley
Expected publication: March 20th 2018
Pages: 304

When fourteen-year-old Zanna Mayfield gets an acceptance letter from St. Pommeroy’s School for Gifted Children, she jumps at the chance to put her considerable intellect to good use. But nothing can prepare her for the first day, when she discovers that she is a Scientist —one able to see and bend the basic functions of the universe like velocity, gravity, and chemical reactions to her own purposes.

As Zanna struggles to make friends and learn how to use her abilities at her new school, her troubles multiply when a mysterious stranger begins stalking her, dead set on keeping Zanna out of St. Pommeroy’s. If Zanna has any hope of finishing her first year, she’ll need to master every function she can get her mind around—including the one that defines Zanna herself. (from Goodreads)


When I picked up the book, I didn’t remember at all what the story was about and it took me completely by surprise. I liked the main character, Zanna, from the first moment. She’s a smart and unique girl, who was searching for her “right” place in the world to stay; it gave me strong Harry Potter vibes, with her starting to attend the new school and learning everything about how to use her own abilities. There were a lot of similarities with Harry Potter, and this is part of what made me enjoy this book so much, because I could experience a bit of that excitement I felt when I first dived into the Wizarding Wold.

I loved the world built by the author. It was so fascinating and refreshing from the usual fantasy or magic world. Sometimes I admit I struggle understanding how things work and are built in fictional worlds; in this case, however, everything was clear and new and exciting at the same time. I also think the characters were very well portrayed, Zanna in primis, as we learn a lot about her and her way of thinking while we read the novel. The other characters are all endearing and funny.

There’s one thing that left me thinking though, as one of the characters is simply portrayed as an “Italian”. Now, as an Italian person myself, what should that mean? I didn’t get that honestly, but I appreciated that various types of characters were into the story. And also, it was funny to see how this Italian girl was depicted (and she was one of my favorite characters along with Zanna!).

I enjoyed every moment I spent reading Zanna’s story. It warmed my heart multiple times and it also made me stay in suspense and eager to know what it would happen next. The only thing I didn’t really like is the way everything resolved in a short time. I think there was much more space to deepen characters and relationships and some things were left there hanging. As far as I know, this is a stand-alone, but I really think this would have worked better as a duology or as a series. There is much more to tell about this world and about Zanna’s future and I really hope that maybe, in the future, a sequel is announced. All in all, I think the ending was pretty good, I just hoped to see more development.

I really think this book should get more attention. This really was a lovely read, that cheered me up and I enjoyed it so much. I’m so happy and grateful I was given the chance to read it in advance.

My rating: 4.5/5 stars

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The House at 758 || Book Review

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Note: I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Author: Kathryn Berla
Year: 2017 (first published in 2014)
Pages: 250

The House at 758 is a peaceful reading. It offers a peek in the daily lige of Krista, a teenager who is still suffering for the loss of her mother. She’s depressed and refuses help; she’s trapped in her thoughts and she’s living only a half-life ever since her mother died.

She feels betrayed by her father, who managed to move on and build a new daily life with a new girlfriend. She feels alone, because she thinks no one can understand her. She feels like everyone else look at her with pity and she can’t bear it.

And then, there’s the house at 758. She can’t stop going there, even if the police warns her not to go there ever again.

She thinks she’ll spend this summer alone, grieving and stalking the house at 758. But her grandfather is coming to visit, and she has to take care of him, even though she thinks he’s a complete stranger.

Also, there’s Jake, a classmate who doesn’t seem as bad as the others. For once, he doesn’t look at her, or talk to her, like she’s about to burst into tears. And maybe, that’s just what she needs the most.


In this book, a variety of themes are addressed. There’s Krista’s depression and her struggles to move forward; there’s her growth and the new relationships she establish with Jake, her grandfather and other characters near her. And there’s the story of his grandfather, who experienced the Holocaust.

This mixture of themes is the strongest point of this novel. Unfortunately, it’s also its biggest flaw. In fact, I feel like no theme has been adressed with completeness. For this reason, at the end of the novel you might feel a bit empty, like nothing has really been solved. Krista’s growth starts in this book, but it doesn’t stop here: when we reach the ending, it’s like we’re only at the very beginning.

I’m not saying that as a bad thing; I think it’s awesome that it makes you feel that Krista has still room to grow, that the story doesn’t end there with a happily ever after. I’m not the biggest fan of open endings, but I think it’s the perfect one for this bitter sweet story.

The narration is what I liked the most. It managed to stay simple but at the same time to convey so many different feelings. Moreover, the mystery surrounding the house at 758 is well built and capable to surprise you even at the very end. Although I hoped it would have been the main focus of the novel, something that solves it all. But as I’ve already said before, this novel is the result of a mix of things just like in real life.

The fact that this novel is so realatable and near the reality makes it so enjoyable. The author doesn’t try to explain you how the different pieces come together. Simply, stuff happens and you have to take it and react to it at your best. As a reader, you’re discovering what Krista experiences and it’s up to you to draw the conclusions.

The only thing I wished it was better intertwined with the other things going on was the story of Krista’s grandfather and the development of their relationship. I feel like they strengthen their bond almost out of the blue; in this case, I think that some deepening was necessary. Also, as much as I appreciate the presence of the Holocaust theme, its relationship with the main points of the plot isn’t well explained. I mean, there’s a noticeable connection, but it’s not highlighted and doesn’t find its right place in Krista’s growth.

In conclusion, I’d totally recommend this book for the variety of feelings it conveys. I found it realistic, bitter sweet and peaceful, although the themes it deals with aren’t the easiest.

My rating: 4/5 stars

Hello!Project Awards 2016

Hey everyone!

I wanted to do something like a recap / review for the whole year, but talking about each release / member is too time consuming (I tried last year and I failed tumblr_inline_mto5g32IQF1qid2nw) so I’m going to show you only my favorites of 2016!

There are six categories:

  1. Best song
  2. Best choreography
  3. Best MV
  4. Best outfit (singles / albums)
  5. Top 10 members
  6. Top 3 kenshuusei

Please note that this is based purely on my tastes!

BEST SONG

….

Dou Datte ii no (Country Girls)

A lot of good songs came out this year! It was really hard to choose only one of them. I really liked Dou Datte ii no from the first listen, because it’s upbeat and full of energy and I really like the meaning of the lyrics!

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY

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Mukidashi de Mukiatte (Morning Musume’16)

Mugen Climax (°C-ute)

A tie! I’m not an expert in terms of dance, so this was an hard category for me. The ones I chose are cool and have an interesting concept behind them. Too bad I can’t dance at all, I would love to learn and dance them too!

BEST MUSIC VIDEO

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Ranrarun ~Anata ni Muchuu~ (Country Girls)

The quality of MV has increased this year and we have several gems in terms of effects, concepts, entertainment… But I love this one SO MUCH! I love that it is tied to the lyrics and it tells a story; there are a lot of cute and funny moments and… it’s simply awesome!

BEST OUTFITS

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A tie, again! We have the outfits of Mugen Climax, which are simply gorgeous; I love the gothic style and they go so well with the song! Then, we have the outfits of Otona no Jijou, which is a digital only releasy and has no MV, but they wore it for the drama and in concerts. This one is also really beautiful, something you rarely see in H!P; it’s really idolish and I love checkered patterns! Finally we have the outfits used for the MV of Kedakaku Sakihokore. Well, I kinda cheated on these because they were actually the outfits of the Countdown Party 2015, but they are so beautiful that I wanted to include them. The lace decoration are really cute and lady-like and I’m so glad they decided to use them not only for concerts!

TOP 10 IDOLS

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Basically, to do this ranking I made an average of their positions during my monthly rankings – so it doesn’t reflect my December top ten. This is more like a “how they did during the year in my rankings” tumblr_inline_mg16go8gBg1qdlkyg Soo, let’s see. First spot, obviously, my H!P oshi, Kudo Haruka. She ranked first in every monthly ranking this year. Then we have Ogata Haruna and Hagiwara Mai. They are basically on the same level, so it’s interesting to see that on average Haachin ranked better than MaiMai! Then we have Hamachan! I liked her from the first time I saw her, so yeah, she’s always pretty high. Sayubee, Maachan and Murotan usually rank in my top ten, while Sasaki Rikako and Oda Sakura don’t, so it’s nice to see they ranked well throughout the year. As 9th, we have Yanagawa Nanami. She’s my new Country Girls oshi after the departure of Manakan (who would have been there if she hadn’t left, sigh) and she started rank in my top ten around mid-year, so that’s probably why she’s lower than Rikako. It will be interesting to see how this will change next year!

TOP 3 4 KENSHUUSEI

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This is the same as the regular members, I just did an average of their positions in my rankings :3 Takase Kurumi is my favorite kenshuusei. She has replaced Kaga Kaede sometimes this year. Kaga would have been there too, but she’s a member of Morning Musume’17 now, so she’s not a kenshuusei anymore (yay!). I was expecting Ruru to be on my top three since she’s pretty stable in my rankings. And… surprise! A tie! I quite like both Sakiko-chan and Kirara-chan and actually this is a perfect result because I can’t tell the one I like the most between them!

This is it for my 2016 Awards! Did you agree with some of them? Which ones would you change? Let me know in the comments! _apple__by_ebonred-d51uswt

Spring 2016 Wrap-up!

Trying to restart with this monthly feature. Since I didn’t keep track of things I did in the last couple of months, I was thinking of waiting July for the next wrap-up. But then I realized that, since my last wrap-up was in March, a general Spring Wrap-up would be perfect! So here I am tumblr_m8fn9dLQWy1r7nk4k

~Books~
Since March I’ve read a total of 12 books.


1Q84 Book 3 by Murakami Haruki 5/5 stars
I started this saga last year but it took a while for me to get into it. However, the third book is so fascinating, much more than the first two books, because all starts to make sense. I love those kind of conclusive books, which also make me appreciate more the beginning of the story.

Misery by Stephen King 5/5 stars
This book was recommended to me by my mother. I should totally ask her for suggestions more. Last year she suggested me to read Roots, which I loved, and Misery was not less. This was the first book I’ve ever read by Stephen King even though I’ve wanted to read his works for a long time. I really like his style of writing and the story was totally fascinating.

Books 2

Harry Potter #3 #4, #5, #6, #7 by J.K. Rowling 5/5 stars all of them
I finished re-reading the series. This month I also re-watched all the movies. I LOVE Harry Potter, so I was basically playing safe. Two of them (#4 and #5) were also the books I managed to read during the Dewey’s 24 hours readathon. I was supposed to write a wrap-up post about that but in the end I didn’t. However I kept my Twitter updated, so it was an half-success I think?

Books 1

Il mio angelo segreto & Un amore di angelo by Federica Bosco both 4/5 stars
I also finished this italian series. The first book in the series made my cry hard and now I don’t remember if I broke in tears again but it’s likely. The story was good, but unfortunately I can’t say the same for the writing style. The thing that bothered me the most was the lack of punctuation. Ugh.

Overbite by Meg Cabot 4/5 stars
It seems this was the seasons of series conclusion. I read the first book of this duology last year. I like reading vampire novels (there was a period of my life where I was autobuying everything that had vampires in it – and no, this wasn’t because of Twilight, but I read Twilight because of this), so I was pretty happy with these books. Overbite was a good book overall, but I think I liked it less than the first one. And I was a bit disappointed with the ending. I mean, it’s good, but I would have preferred a different one.

The Haunted Mask by R.L. Stine 4/5 stars
I think you know it by now. I still like Goosebumps. I grew up with them and the bond I have with this series is beyond the fact that those book are meant to be for children. As for this book, I saw the TV version before I read the story. I thought it was good and so I decided to give the book a try. I only hope I had read all those books when I was younger. I’m sure they would have been all masterpieces for my younger self. Apart from aliens stories. I don’t like aliens.

The Grove by John Rector 2/5 stars
This was a bit of a disappointment. I picked this book up at the book shop because of the beautiful cover (you can see it above) and the blurb. I didn’t even give a peek at the inside. Maybe I should have done so, because apart from the cover it was an absolute mess. The font was too big for the page, so the margins were really tiny and ugly. Even crooked. But this wouldn’t have been important if the story was amazing. Well, it was completely different from what I was expecting. Idk. Maybe it would have been good if it were written differently. Because the idea is nice, even if it wasn’t what I was searching for. But it didn’t hook me like, let’s say, Misery. It was confusing, rushed and weird. However, I did read some positive reviews of it, so maybe you would be able to appreciate it even though I didn’t.

Currently (re)reading: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

~Anime~
I’m pretty slow at completing anime. I start a lot of them but then I stop watching them half-way through. In the end I usually complete all of them, but it takes a long time.

Date a Live

I started this anime only because of the character design. I didn’t know what to expect and at first I was like WHAT? But then I got a bit into it. It evolved pretty quickly to a harem / slice of life kind of anime, with some action here and there. I was getting hyped up near the last episodes but unfortunately the ending wasn’t really good. I think – I hope – this is because there is also a second series, so maybe the real ending is there. I think I will give it a try even though the first series was not amazing. Seriously, the ending disappointment had caused this anime to drop two ranks (from 8/10 to 6/10).

Currently watching: Akagami no Shirayuki-hime (9/12 eps seen)
Mayoiga (3/12 eps seen)

~TV series and Dramas~
A big result for a slow-watcher like me.


House M.D. – Season 8
Okay, I finished this months ago. I was crying desperately in the end and I’m still bitter there isn’t hope for a season 9. But I enjoyed watching this series so much! I love House ♡


Princess Prosecutor
So, in May I had my Korean exam and I felt like I needed a miracle to pass it. So I spent the days before the exam watching a lot of K-drama, hoping to learn some vocabulary and exercise my comprehension skill. And it worked! But back on this drama. This is one of my absolute favorite drama. I’m in love with Park Shi Hoo and I picked this show only for him. And it was so beautiful!! I can’t explain how I was feeling while watching it. I was on an emotional roller coaster the whole time.


Oh My Venus
Second for-learning-purposes drama. This was pretty good too! I really liked it and I got attached to the characters. Unfortunately I don’t really like the main actress visually speaking and since she was supposed to be extremely beautiful it was a bit of a let-down for me. I mean, she’s pretty, but I prefer the fat “ugly” version over the skinny one. Another thing I didn’t like was the development of the love story. I thought it was a bit out of the blue, but enjoyable and relatable nevertheless.
Honorable mentions: the secretary was totally the best character of the show XDD


She was Pretty
Last for-learning-purposes drama. It was really good, funny blah blah. BUT. [MILD KIND-OF-SPOILER ALERT] My Kim Shin Hyuk *cries desperately* everything was totally unfair!!! He was so lovable and funny and caring and cute and…WHY? The other guy was a d*** basically for half the show, switching personality as soon as he was with who she believed to be Kim Hye Jin. And then towards the end he magically became the kindest and clumsiest man of the world! Like, seriously? I even thought that he had multiple personalities. [END OF SPOILER] Besides my little rant, Koh Joon Hee (Min Ha Ri in the show) is one of the most beautiful actress I’ve ever seen. tumblr_inline_mg0q008a5v1qdlkyg

Currently watching: The Heirs (3/20 eps seen)

~Top Ten H!P Idols~

top ten JUN

~Currently into~
Bullet journaling!
I started my first bullet journal in June. I love it! I’m not an artistic kind of person, so I thought it would be hard for me to keep up with a system where you have to design everything, but it isn’t like that at all! I really enjoy spending my time organizing my bujo! I’m still searching for the layout that works the best for me, so I think I will experiment a bit during the next weeks. However I like changing, so it doesn’t bother me at all! I think that prevent it from becoming boring 😛 I should totally upload some pic of it when I have more pages to show.

Knitting
I’ve started knitting like… six days ago. My grandmother helped me start and now I’m just practicing. My goal is making a warm scarf for the winter by myself – I have plenty of time to practice until then! And then… we’ll see!

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Anne no Nikki

Yesterday, I found an anime movie based on The Diary of Anne Frank.

It was aired in 1995, so animations and graphics aren’t really suggestive, but I think that scenes are well made and make a good description of the most important parts of the book.

I usually don’t watch an anime as soon as I find it. I look at the pictures, read the plot and then think “okay, I’ll watch this in the future”.. and I always forget to do it. null

This time, I decided to watch it immediately because the 27th of January was the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, so I thought it would be nice to watch something concernig the event.

Speaking of the movie itself, it is around 1h45m long. I was surprised, because I expected a shorter movie! null However, while I was watching it I barely noticed the flow of time because the scenes were well balanced, neither too slow, nor too superficial.

The plot follow the original story. I read the book when I was a child, and basing on my memories the movie touched almost all important moments. There were even narrative parts, as Anne was reading her diary. I think they made a good description of the characters, with a deep analysis of each behaviour and manners.

As I said before, graphics and animations weren’t the very best. Here is an example of the drawings:

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Even if in that it isn’t the best, I think you don’t need an amazing graphics to appreciate this work.

The story is full of feelings of any kind: hope, fear, love, understanding. Living in such conditions really change your view on life, and that’s exactly what happens to Anne, who is just a kid when she was forced to abandon her house.

The music was good. Slow-peaced songs, heartbreaking melodies and soft sounds were just the right choice. There are also some songs performed in English, but the pronunciation is really bad… null Well, actually it was pretty good compared to the average pronunciation of Japanese people

One thing I didn’t like at all is the dubbing. It’s one of the most awful japanese dubbing I’ve ever heard  Overall voices were okay, even if I dindn’t appreciate Anne’s one. But the main problems were the flat acting and sync mistakes. A lot of time I noticed a moving mouth without hearing any word. Some voice actors were pretty good, though. Mr and Mrs Van Daan were great! 

I hoped ’til the last moment that the ending would change… but it didn’t happen null so sad…

After the movie I went to bed with a mixed feeling of sadness and anger. null It’s so unfair!  Poor people! I understood once again that remembering is important, in order to not make the same mistakes in the future. If those could be called mistakes…

I want to end up with a little request: please, all of you, always remember. Remember our past and try to change our future, even in the smallest things. Teach your children respect and mutual understanding. Teach them that all are equal. Teach them not to hate because of a different religion, culture, skin or sexual orientation.

Teach them to love.