ARC Review: The Circus

the-circusTitle: The Circus
Author: Olivia Levez
Pages: 288
Published by: Rock the Boat
Release date: 4th May 2017
Synopsis:
Why would a girl who has everything want to run away and never be found?

Willow has staged runaways ever since she was a little girl. She has everything a young person should want: a rich daddy, clothes, money, a pony and a place at a prestigious boarding school. In reality, she has everything except the thing she really wants: a father who cares enough to find her.

Aged sixteen, on the eve of her father’s wedding, she ruins the bride’s dress and escapes through a window, determined never to return. Her missing mother was a circus performer, and Willow wants to follow in her footsteps. But the performers she meets don’t want her. When her last bit of money is stolen by Suze, another runaway girl she thought she could trust, Willow becomes really homeless. Then Suze comes tumbling back into her life and a desperate Willow has to decide whether to trust her all over again . . .

So begins their frightening, exhilarating odyssey though hunger, performance, desperation and dreams. Will they both survive and will Willow make it to the circus of her imagining?

Purchase from: Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones 

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Firstly, thank you to Rock the Boat for sending me a proof of The Circus to review!

Review:

I absolutely adored Olivia Levez’s first novel, ‘The Island,’ so when I found out about ‘The Circus,’ I knew I had to read it. When a copy came through the post, I dropped everything to start reading immediately, and finished it within a day. And I was definitely not disappointed!

Willow, the main character, is spoilt and naive when she runs away from home to try and find her mum and join the circus. On the run and determined not to be caught, she soon realises how difficult making it on her own will be. She learns the how harsh life on the streets is, and she learns the importance of friendship that’ll last even when you have nothing. She undergoes a lot of character development in the book, which is something that I love to see.

Suze was my favourite character. She is fun and quirky and a talented performer, and though she added a lot of lightheartedness through her character, her story also broke my heart at places. She is the opposite of Willow, and the pair form a friendship that I loved. She helps Willow get back on her feet after she becomes homeless, and she pushes her to achieve her goals.

One of the things that I was most looking forward to in The Circus was Olivia Levez’s unique writing style. It was one of the things that really stuck out to me when I read The Island, and was just as wonderful in this book. The writing immerses you, and the story is entirely gripping — I found myself staying up until the early hours of the morning reading because I just did not want to put this book down. I loved the exploration into performing and the setting of a circus, too. It was so interesting and I thought that it added a sense of adventure and a touch of magic to the story.

The Circus is a wonderful, adventurous book that somehow manages to be heartbreaking and heartwarming, all at once.

Rating: ★★★★★

ARC Review: Heartless

heartlessTitle: Heartless
Author: Marissa Meyer
Pages: 464
Published by: Macmillan Children’s
Synopsis:
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.
Purchase from: Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones

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Firstly, THANK YOU to Macmillan Children’s for sending me a copy of Heartless to review!

Review:

Heartless is a prequel story to Alice in Wonderland, and it follows the future Queen of Hearts, Cath. The Queen of Hearts is one of my favourite villains from one of my favourite books, so obviously I couldn’t wait to get my hands this book. I was expecting something dark and wonderful and let me tell you – it was so much more than I expected.

I loved how this book progressively got darker as it went on, even though it completely shattered my heart towards the end. Cath was so far from what I expected the Queen of Hearts to have been like at the beginning of the book, but she was a great and fun character, with a passion for baking (and the descriptions of all these baked goods continuously made me very hungry) and I really sympathized with her situation, with the king and her parents hoping for her to become the next Queen of Hearts. And then she meets Jest, and things get a little more complicated. Jest was such an adorable character, and he was so much fun. Their relationship was so cute and I spent so much time internally screaming for him and Cath to just kiss already! 

I loved the appearances of some of my other faves from Alice in Wonderland, like the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Hatter. They were so fun, and I was really happy to see that we also got a little of the Hatter’s back story, too, and even for a few of the minor characters from Lewis Carroll’s book.

I loved how well Marissa Meyer built up and added her own spin to many aspects of a world that so many people already know and love. I love the strangeness of this world and its character’s so much.

And can we talk for a second about that ending? My heart! I think it’s safe to say that I’m still very much an emotional mess because of this book. And I 100% recommend it.

Rating: ★★★★★

Review: Aerie

AerieTitle: Aerie (Magonia #2)
Author: Maria Dahvana Headley
Pages: 320
Published by: HarperCollins
Release date: 4th October 2016
Synopsis:
Where is home when you were born in the stars?

Aza Ray is back on earth. Her boyfriend Jason is overjoyed. Her family is healed. She’s living a normal life, or as normal as it can be if you’ve spent the past year dying, waking up on a sky ship, and discovering that your song can change the world.

As in, not normal. Part of Aza still yearns for the clouds, no matter how much she loves the people on the ground.

When Jason’s paranoia over Aza’s safety causes him to make a terrible mistake, Aza finds herself a fugitive in Magonia, tasked with opposing her radical, bloodthirsty, recently-escaped mother, Zal Quel, and her singing partner, Dai. She must travel to the edge of the world in search of a legendary weapon, the Flock, in a journey through fire and identity that will transform her forever.

Purchase from: Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones

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Firstly, thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of Aerie to review!

Review:

I absolutely adored Magonia, the first book in this duology – it was one of my favourite books of 2015 (and all time!) and I talk about it any chance I can get. So I was extremely excited when I heard about Aerie. But going into it, I had very high expectations. And looking back, I think I probably set my expectations a tad too high, because – I didn’t enjoy Aerie as much.

I think the largest problem I had with this book is that I completely lost track of what was going on. There was so much time when nothing was really happening and it just seemed like the characters were spending more time talking about things than actually doing them and it just made the plot drag.

The characters didn’t seem the same, either. Or, really, just Aza and Jason. I loved them in book one. Their personalities were so fun and original and they were a joy to read about. And this shone through at the beginning of Aerie primarily, but less, I felt, in the rest of the book. I still love them, of course, but they frustrated me a lot at times.

I loved Eli in this book, though. We didnt see very much of her in the last book, so I was so glad that she had a bigger part in Aerie. She was so kick ass and sarcastic and I think she might even be my new favourite character in the series. I also loved seeing some of my faves from Magonia return, like Wedda and Jik.

I mentioned in my Magonia review how I loved the writing, its uniqueness, but I felt like there was something missing about it in this book. I still adore the writing style, but to me, it just didnt feel the same as in Magonia. The world building, though, was as brilliant as in book 1, and I really liked seeing more of the world of Magonia.

Rating: Overall, I don’t think that Aerie completely lived up to what it could have been, but I also don’t think that it was too bad.  ★★★☆☆

Review: Frostblood

frostbloodTitle: Frostblood
Author: Elly Blake
Pages: 304
Published by: Hodder and Stoughton
Release date: 12th January 2017
Synopsis:
In a land governed by the cruel Frostblood ruling class, seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has spent most of her life hiding her ability to manipulate heat and light – until the day the soldiers come to raid her village and kill her mother. Ruby vows revenge on the tyrannous Frost King responsible for the massacre of her people.

But Ruby’s powers are unpredictable…and so are the feelings she has for Arcus, the scarred, mysterious Frostblood warrior who shares her goal to kill the Frost King, albeit for his own reasons. When Ruby is captured by the Frost King’s men, she’s taken right into the heart of the enemy. Now she only has one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who took everything from her – and in doing so, she must unleash the powers she’s spent her whole life withholding.

Frostblood is set in world where flame and ice are mortal enemies – but together create a power that could change everything.
Purchase from: Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones

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Firstly, thank you tons to Hodder and Stoughton for sending me a proof of Frostblood to review!

Review:

It’s been days since I finished Frostblood, and I still cant get it out of my mind.It was glorious and gripping and so much fun and feels all mixed together. I am in love.

This book grabbed my attention from the start, pulled me right into the pages and spat me out at the end with a whole load more feels than I had before, in the best possible way. It was so fast paced and engaging that I could not tear my eyes away.

I loved the main character, Ruby. She was such a great character to read about – fierce, strong and funny. She’s a character who is not afraid to defend herself and what she believes in and I loved that! It was a pleasure reading her adventure. And  I adored Arcus in equal measures (which is a lot).  I loved seeing them grow as a characters and I can only imagine how much more this will be in book 2, since they both have a lot to deal with after all that happened in this book. Their stories were a complete whirlwind and I can’t wait to see where they – and all the characters from the Abbey, who were a delight to read about – go in the next book.

I loved Elly Blake’s writing. The world building was amazing and the plot was so, so addicting. I literally could not put this book down. Seriously. I stayed up until 4am to finish reading it, and even after then I couldn’t sleep because all I could think was what happens next? and now what do I do with my life? (100% worth the tiredness that came the next day).

This was one fiery (haha, sorry) debut and  I am dying to see what happens next. The sequel, Fireblood, cannot come soon enough!

Rating: ★★★★★

ARC Review: Holding Up the Universe

holding-up-the-universeTitle: Holding Up the Universe
Author: Jennifer Niven
Pages: 368
Publisher: Penguin
Release date: 6th October 2016
Synopsis:
Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed ‘America’s Fattest Teen’. But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to see who she really is. Since her mum’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the art of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his own brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game which lands them in group counseling, Libby and Jack are both angry, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world – theirs and yours.

Purchase from: Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones

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Firstly, thank you so much to Clare from Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of Holding Up the Universe!

Review:

I loved Jennifer Niven’s debut YA book, All the Bright Places, when I read it last year. It was an intensely emotional read and it completely shattered  my heart. And I was so excited when I found out that there was going to be a new Jennifer Niven book. I couldn’t wait to see what she’d write next. And I was not disappointed. Holding Up the Universe left my heart feeling so fuzzy and warm – I just loved it.

This book flips between two characters, Jack and Libby, and I loved reading from both perspectives. They are two amazing and truly inspirational characters. Their voices were so unique and strong. I loved seeing them overcome their insecurities and struggles and learn to accept themselves as they are. Jack, trying to understand and cope with not being able to recognize anyone. And Libby, trying to fit into high school life after years of being trapped inside after the death of her mother and experiencing terrible bullying. I loved how Libby went out into the world determined to live her life to the fullest and isn’t afraid to stand up for herself and be happy with herself. I loved how they both came together and helped each other, and how the grew so much as characters throughout the book – I think I’ve definitely found two more characters to add to my favourites!

I really liked the rest of the characters, too, and how they’re all so different. Libby’s friends, and dad, Jack’s brothers and even his friends — they’re all so interesting.

A big theme in this book is bullying, and I loved how Jennifer Niven tackled it. She managed to sensitively, yet honestly portray what it’s like to be bullied, and the effects of that on a person. But she also explored the reasons why people bully, and it was so thought provoking.

I love Niven’s writing. It’s easy to read and keeps you hooked and I just flew through this book. Holding Up the Universe is such a heartwarming read that is sure to pull you into the pages and keep you until you turn the very last one.

Rating: ★★★★☆

ARC Review: Three Dark Crowns

three-dark-crowns-poisoner-editionTitle: Three Dark Crowns
Author: Kendare Blake
Pages: 405
Published by: Pan Macmillan
Release Date: 22nd September 2016
Synopsis:
Three sisters. One crown. A fight to the death.

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose . . . it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown.

Purchase from: Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones

Goodreads

Thank you so much to Catherine from Pan Macmillan for sending me an early copy of Three Dark Crowns to review!

Review:

Three Dark Crowns is a fantastically dark and wonderful read, one that demands to be devoured in one sitting. I loved it!

I loved the idea of this book, and I found the plot so gripping – I had to know what was going to happen, what was going to be the outcome of the queens’ fight. It is quite fast paced, and although I did get a little confused at times, and struggled to keep up, I soon caught up and really enjoyed it. I loved how well this world was built up -I forgot, for a moment, that this is a fantasy world, it felt so real.

This is a book that progressively gets darker and darker as you read, and I love that. Three Dark Crowns follows the three sisters – queens – Mirabella, Arsinoe and Katharine, who are separated as children and raised to hate each other. Each sister lives with a foster family according to their gift – Katharine lives with poisoners, Arsinoe with naturalists, and Mirabella with elementals. They each grow up in different environments, have different attitudes towards the fight to the death that must happen. I loved how different they all were, and I couldn’t decide who I loved more out of the three – and which queen I wanted to win. First it was Katharine, then Mirabella, then Arsinoe – and repeat. And now I want all of them to win.

Alongside the three queens, I loved reading about Jules – her and Camden were so interesting and fun  and I loved her friendship with Arsinoe. And strangely, I even really enjoyed reading from the Natalia and Luca’s point of view. I found them so interesting – how they both cared so much for their own queens, while encouraging that they kill their sisters.

I really liked Blake’s writing style. It was so eloquent and easy to read, and I found that it – and the crazily addicting plot line – just made me want to keep reading. I found myself staying up way too late just to finish this chapter, and then starting another because I need to know what happens after this. And that last sentence – oh my gosh, I need more!

The wait for book two is going to be complete torture!

(Also, have you seen how gorgeous all of the covers are for this series?! There are three! I’m so tempted to get all of them.)

Rating : ★★★★.5

 

Review: Nevernight

nevernightTitle: Nevernight
Author: Jay Kristoff
Pages: 429
Published by: Harper Voyager
Release date: 11th August 2016
Synopsis:
Destined to destroy empires, Mia Covere is only ten years old when she is given her first lesson in death.

Six years later, the child raised in shadows takes her first steps towards keeping the promise she made on the day that she lost everything.

But the chance to strike against such powerful enemies will be fleeting, so if she is to have her revenge, Mia must become a weapon without equal. She must prove herself against the deadliest of friends and enemies, and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and demons at the heart of a murder cult.

The Red Church is no Hogwarts, but Mia is no ordinary student.

The shadows love her. And they drink her fear.

Purchase from: Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones

Goodreads

Thank you to Katie from Harper Voyager for sending me a copy of Nevernight via NetGalley!

Review:

It has taken me so long to write a proper review for this book, simply because I was completely blown away, and left completely speechless. It was amazing – there was action, assassins, a great plot line, a dark and deadly fantasy land. Simply spectacular.

I loved the characters – Mia Corvere is a strong and fierce character, and a deadly assassin. I think I’ve found a new favourite character to add to my list. She was amazing. We see flashbacks of Mia’s past, and how she came to be an assassin, and it makes us sympathize with her a whole lot more, understand her a little – even cheer her on in her quest for revenge. I loved Tric, too. He was a great character – another new favourite.  And Mister Kindly, the shadow cat, was so sarcastic and funny.

The whole plot line of this book is amazing. It is so addicting and I just wanted to read more and more, to know what was going to happen next. There were so many surprises – I never knew what was going to happen next. And that last fifty pages or so…oh my glob. So. Much. Happened. And one thing in particular that I refuse to accept – If you’ve read the book, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t read it yet, you’re welcome to come cry with me when you get to that part. You’ll know it when you read it.

I absolutely love the writing style. It flowed so perfectly and I didnt want to stop reading. I was a little unsure about the footnotes at first, mainly because I found them a little bit distracting,  especially in the more action filled scenes, and I wasn’t sure about stopping mid paragraph to read the longer footnotes at the bottom of the page. My solution = read them at the end of the scene or chapter, depending. Genius. Once I figured that little thing out, I found that I began to like them a whole lot more – they added a lot more insight and humour to the story.

It took me quite a while to finish reading Nevernight, partially because I lost my Kindle for a while, but mainly because I simply didn’t want it to end. I became so absorbed in (obsessed with) the story that I even started saying things like “yesterturn” in my head, and for the next three days after finishing it, every time I read the word “sunlight,” it became “sunslight.” Luckily I didnt say this out loud, or I’d have probably gotten a few strange looks.

Rating: ★★★★★