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: ★★★★★

Review: When We Collided

When We CollidedTitle: When We Collided
Author: Emery Lord
Pages: 344
Published by: Bloomsbury
Release date: 7th April 2016
Source: Netgalley
Synopsis:
Meet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power save or destroy them.

Vivi and Jonah couldn’t be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by. Then Vivi arrives, and suddenly life seems brighter and better. Jonah is the perfect project for Vivi, and things finally feel right for Jonah. Their love is the answer to everything. But soon Vivi’s zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there’s something important Vivi hasn’t told him.

Purchase from: Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones

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Firstly, thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book to review via Netgalley.

Review:

I picked When We Collided up on a whim when I could feel a reading slump coming on and wasn’t sure what to read next. I ended up reading it in a day and really enjoyed it while reading, but for a long while I really wasn’t sure how to rate it.

The thing I loved most about When We Collided was the characters. They were all very strong, and so much fun to read about. I loved Jonah especially, because of his strength and support for his family, and I thought that Vivi was a very bright and fun character, and I loved the positive impact she made. I liked the family dynamic in this book the most, though. I haven’t seen many large families in books, and I loved the insight into how eventful and hectic things are with lots of siblings, as it’s something I can relate to, and I loved how supportive Jonah and his siblings are of each other.

The main reason  I wasn’t sure on how to rate When We Collided, was because of the problem I had with Vivi and Jonah’s relationship, which was quite a big part of the book. Although I loved them as individual characters and as friends, I felt that their relationship needed more development leading up to it. I would have liked a bit more time to get to know and warm up to them, though I did really like how supportive of each other they turned out to be.

I liked how upbeat Emery Lord’s writing style was, and I breezed through the book in a day, which was he fastest I had read a book in a long while because of college – I was so drawn in to it. I really appreciated the positive representation of mental health, particularly bipolar disorder and depression in this book, too. Emery Lord is nothing but honest with the representation of mental health, which I think is very important. She also shows just how important and how much it means to be supported, and I know that I will be recommending this book a lot for its mental health representation alone.

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: What Light

what-lightTitle: What Light
Author: Jay Asher
Pages: 256
Published by: Macmillan Children’s
Release date: 20th October 2016
Synopsis:
Sierra’s family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon – it’s an idyllic place for a girl to grow up, except that every year they have to pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other. Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life begins to eclipse the other…

Purchase from: Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones

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Thank you to Macmillan Children’s for sending me a copy of What Light to review!

Review:

It’s now the end of January, and thanks to this book, I’ve never felt more Christmassy in my life. What Light is a heart warming and touching read that is perfect to get you in the mood for Christmas, whatever the time of year and it is guaranteed to give you a serious craving for peppermint mocha. (And now I want peppermint mocha again…sigh.)

This book is quite a short read, but it is incredibly sweet, and slightly cheesy (but, I mean, CHRISTMAS. You’re allowed to be cheesy then!) and I enjoyed it oh, so much. It follows Sierra, who spends her Christmases at her parent’s Christmas tree lot in California. Although I didnt really connect with Sierra all that much, I loved reading her story, and the other characters were all great fun.

I loved the fact that friendships were at the heart of this story and  I loved the friendship between the characters – how supportive (and funny – especially Heather. I loved her) both Sierra’s friends from back home and the ones in California were, and Sierra’s relationship with Caleb was the cutest.

The setting was amazing – I loved that the book was set on a Christmas tree lot. There were so many things about this book that just made me feel so nostalgic and happy. Honestly, this book just makes me want to go back to Christmas time.

A bright story with a focus on forgiveness and Christmas cheer that I am sure I will want to reread come December.

Rating: ★★★.5☆☆

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: ★★★★★

Review: The Girl of Ink and Stars

the-girl-of-ink-and-starsTitle: The Girl of Ink and Stars
Author: Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Pages: 288
Published by: Chicken House
Release date: 5th May 2016
Synopsis:

Forbidden to leave her island, Isabella Riosse dreams of the faraway lands her father once mapped.

When her closest friend disappears into the island’s Forgotten Territories, she volunteers to guide the search. As a cartographer’s daughter, she’s equipped with elaborate ink maps and knowledge of the stars, and is eager to navigate the island’s forgotten heart.

But the world beyond the walls is a monster-filled wasteland – and beneath the dry rivers and smoking mountains, a legendary fire demon is stirring from its sleep. Soon, following her map, her heart and an ancient myth, Isabella discovers the true end of her journey: to save the island itself.

Purchase from: Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones

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Review:

The Girl of Ink and Stars was so much more than I expected. The story was so immersive and despite it being quite short, I felt like I’d read a book that was so much longer, there was so much story in it, and it was so well written and developed.

The book follows Isabella, the daughter of a cartographer who is determined to use her skills to find her best friend Lupe. I loved reading her journey of discovery as she uncovered the island’s secrets and mysteries, the heartbreaks and worries along the way to finding her best friend, and the sheer adventure of mapping the forgotten parts of the island. This book is a roller coaster of emotions and is truly an adventure worth reading!

Characterisation in this book was great, and there was so much character development in both the main character, Isabella, and her best friend Lupe, which is really quite a feat since Lupe isn’t even in that much of the book. Both characters were so great, and they grew so much stronger and greater throughout the book.

I absolutely loved the writing in The Girl of Ink and Stars. It was so beautiful and effortless, and the world building was spectacular, the landscapes, places, myths and maps were all so vivid. I stayed up so late to keep reading just because I literally could not stop. The end of every chapter had me wanting to keep reading.

And just look at that cover! (AND, there are drawings on the inside pages, too, which is so cool!) The Girl of Ink and Stars just might be the most beautiful book on my bookshelf!

Rating: ★★★★★