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: ★★★★★

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

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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