Friday 31 August 2018

5* BOOK REVIEW | 'Scythe' by Neal Shusterman

Hey guys, and happy Friday! Today I am thrilled to be sharing with you a review of a brilliant book I read at the weekend, which I could not put down. As soon as I read the blurb for this it sounded so tense and exciting, and I knew I had to read it. Scythe has been given raving reviews from bloggers left, right and centre and I'm happy to be adding to that pile of 5* reviews! 

Scythe is an explosive dystopian story following Citra and Rowan, as they have to make a moral decision they thought they would never have to make. In their world, death has been conquered, and life is pretty much as perfect and as effortless as it could be. But the circle of life still has to run its course, and that's where the Scythes come in. Angels of death, bringers of inevitable destiny. People revere them and fear them in equal measure, but they are vital to the smooth running of society. Citra and Rowan never thought they would have to take up that duty themselves, but do they really have what it takes to be the figure that everyone is most afraid of?

I was kindly sent Scythe by Walker Books in exchange for an honest review :)

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

Right from the first page, Shusterman hooked me in and didn't let me go until the very last page. Everything from the writing to the characters to the plot was so carefully crafted that I never wanted to let this world go. This world has to be one of the most exciting, tense and brilliantly descriptive worlds I have ever come across in a book. Scythe is both terrifying and enticing in equal measure. Every chapter there was something new, something that shocked and intoxicated me. I think it's fair to say I haven't been this attached to a book in a looooong time. 

I think Citra and Rowan are such great characters, and complex to the level that I don't think The Hunger Games quite accomplished. In a world that is so far removed from ours, whose morals we don't recognise (nor would we want to), I was glad to see that these characters were not simply people we would recognise from our own lives, but different in a way that fit in perfectly with the Scythe world. The characters and plot were so elaborate and convulated that I had no idea what was going to happen in the end. It's fair to say that the ending made me want to rush out straight away and buy the next book in the series (and devour it as soon as I possibly can!) Also, did anyone else hear about the movie?! Ahhhhhhhhhhh!

Check out Neal Shusterman here:

Until next time :)

Monday 27 August 2018

5 * BOOK REVIEW | 'Friendship Fails of Emma Nash' by Chloe Seager

Hey guys, and happy Bank Holiday Monday! Today I am excited to share a book review of a YA novel I absolutely love, Friendship Fails of Emma Nash by Chloe Seager. I read and adored the first book in the series, Editing Emma, a few weeks ago, so I was excited to dive into this. I found that so many elements of what I loved in the first book was continued in the second, and in my opinion this book was even better!

Friendship Fails of Emma Nash follows Emma as she makes a vow to move on from trying to find the man of her dreams, to trying to expand her friendship circle. Her two best friends having recently acquired boyfriends, Emma finds herself painfully bored and in need of some creative inspiration. The school fashion show offers itself up as a potential cure from her Gilmore Girls addiction, but it isn't very long before it creates a whole bunch of problems of its own...

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

Emma Nash is back….and determined to work out the world of friendships and relationships once and for all (…ish).

Now she’s in the sixth form, Emma’s expecting life to be a breeze but when her best friend Steph suddenly has a boyfriend who she’s spending more time with Emma’s not sure what to do with herself.

So Emma’s got a mission in mind: making new friends. Signing up for the school fashion show seems like the perfect opportunity. Although soon, through a series of mishaps that are absolutely not Emma’s fault (well, sort of), her world is teetering on the edge of disaster again.

Would going back to creating a life for herself online reaaaaaallllyyy be so bad?

I absolutely adored Friendship Fails of Emma Nash. Everything I loved in Editing Emma I was so happy to see in this book: gut-busting comedy, cringey moments and also the challenging of real issues so many young people face today. I loved Emma even more in this book and found her character to really develop; I spent the whole book rooting for her, as every good writer should encourage you to do. The development of the friendship between Emma and Gracie was so nice to read about. I think that Seager perfectly captures what friendship in your teenage years is like; when everything is suddenly and helplessly changing around you. I think Emma's reactions to everything that was going on in her life and in the lives of others around her were so realistic and honest, and I think Emma's musings have the potential to provide great support and perspective for teenage (or adult!) readers who may be going through the same things.

As with Editing Emma, I have to applaud Chloe Seager for creating a book that is so gorgeously funny and a delight to read, all whilst keeping it very authentic and inclusive of subjects that are often considered taboo, such as periods, masturbation, sex, and the pressures and pitfalls of social media. More than anything, the Emma Nash series is a perfect portrayal of what it's like to be a young person in today's world, but with it Seager maintains a perfect amount of humour and compassion. What I love about Emma as a protagonist is that however tough her life gets, she has a strong sense of herself, and won't let anyone or anything change that. I think all of us, teenagers or not, could learn a few things from Emma Nash!

If any of you are in a summer or a bank holiday reading slump, make sure you pick up the first two books in the Emma Nash series. You won't regret it <3

Check out Chloe Seager here:

Until next time :)

Tuesday 21 August 2018

BLOG TOUR | EXTRACT | 'Show Stealer' by Hayley Barker

Hey guys, and happy Tuesday! Today I am excited to be sharing with you an extract of the brand new novel Show Stealer by Hayley Barker, which was published at the beginning of this month. Show Stealer is the second book in the Show Stopper series. Check out the blurb here...

Hoshiko and Ben have been on the run since they burned Silvio Sabatini's circus down to the ground at the explosive finale of SHOW STOPPER. But Ben's mother will stop at nothing to track him down and get her revenge: backing him into a corner where he is forced to sacrifice himself to save Hoshiko. The deadliest show on earth has been resurrected and if Ben thought he'd seen into its dark corners as an outsider, the true extent of the horrors that lurk beneath the Big Top are about to be revealed as he becomes the circus' new star attraction... 

And today I am thrilled to be sharing an extract from Show Stealer! If you like what you see be sure to grab the book for your summer holidays or to cure your back to school blues :)


As we approach, a helter-skelter looms in front of me, rising up over the fences and, in the distance, an enormous big wheel towers over everything. It’s not enough any more to just to have the shows and the side stalls – there’s a fairground now too. No, not a fairground, a theme park: vast, expansive. 

I think of everything we’ve been through, Hoshi and Greta and me.

We blew up the arena. We escaped. So what? 

They killed Amina, the person Hoshi loved most in all the world – strung her up in the arena and auctioned off her parts on the internet to the highest bidder. They killed Priya – the first person in the world to ever tell me the truth about anything—and turned her into a zombie, there to be used as target practice by excited thugs with their shotguns. 

What did they die for, Amina and Priya? 

Nothing. We achieved nothing. 

The Cirque has picked itself up, dusted itself off and risen up, bigger, better, stronger than ever. 

People will go on dying in the name of entertainment, just like they always did; there’ll just be someone new at the helm. 

Still, whoever it is can’t be as bad as Silvio Sabatini. I shudder just thinking of him. At least we destroyed him. They’ll never be able to take that away from us.

“Why have you brought me here?” I call out, as the car rolls ever onwards. 

The officers ignore me.

We pass a road sign. The Cirque, it says. Two hundred metres.

“Stop the car!” I shout.

We turn left, past a huge plastic clown face grinning inanely at us as we pass, its wide eyes moving from side to side, and proceed up a long driveway, past the huge empty car parks until we reach a wall, covered in bright three-dimensional images of lions and elephants and acrobats and more clowns.

The officer driving the car winds down his window, tapping a code into a panel outside. 

The wall moves then, and I realize it’s not a solid wall at all; it’s a pair of huge double gates. They swing slowly open, the action apparently signalling the start of music. 

It’s the same music as before, gaudy hurdy-gurdy circus music which once, a lifetime ago, filled me with excitement but now fills me with dread and fear and loathing. Waves of panic rise up inside me.

“Stop the car!” I cry again. They just ignore me. I try the door. It’s locked. “Stop the car! Stop the car!” 

There’s nothing I can do.

I don’t want to be here. I should never have let them take me. Once I’d seen Hoshi and Greta and Jack were gone, I should have just shot myself.

We’re in a huge open-air entrance hall lined all across with ticket booths, gleaming and new and unused. In the middle of them, a huge sign flashes its greeting in bold neon 

Welcome to the Cirque! it declares. The Show Must Go On!

Make sure you guys check out the rest of the spots on the blog tour <3

Buy Show Stealer here:

Check out Hayley Barker here:

Until next time :)

Monday 13 August 2018

BOOK REVIEW | 'The Trilogy of Two' by Juman Malouf (****)

Hey guys, and happy Monday! Today I am excited to be sharing with you another book review, this time of a brand new middle-grade/YA fantasy novel, The Trilogy of Two by Juman Malouf. When I read the blurb for this book it sounded so interesting and unique and I couldn't wait to get my hands on it! 

The Trilogy of Two follows twins Sonja and Charlotte, who live at a circus and entertain crowds every night with their beautiful, haunting music. However, recently, things have started to become a little... odd. Like, the audience levitating when the girls play their instruments. They soon have no choice but to set off on a dangerous journey to find out the truth behind their powers, and to stop the people trying to take it away.

I was kindly sent a copy of The Trilogy of Two by Pushkin Press in exchange for an honest review :)

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

Identical twins Sonja and Charlotte are musical prodigies with extraordinary powers. Born on All-Hallows-Eve, the girls could play music before they could walk. They were found one night by Tatty, the Tattooed Lady of the circus, in a pail on her doorstep with only a note and a heart-shaped locket. They’ve been with Tatty ever since, roaming the Outskirts in the circus caravans, moving from place to place.

But lately, curious things have started to happen when they play their instruments. During one of their performances, the girls accidentally levitate their entire audience, drawing too much unwanted attention. Soon, ominous Enforcers come after them, and Charlotte and Sonja must embark on a perilous journey through enchanted lands in hopes of unlocking the secrets of their mysterious past.

The premise for this story was so interesting, and I'm pleased to say that it lived up to expectations. I think Sonja and Charlotte were fantastic characters and had a great chemistry. I also loved their relationship with Tatty as well, and I think this aspect of the text was brilliantly explored. It definitely was not your average orphan tale, which worked well in avoiding cliché, and made the story that much more unique. 

Like all good fantasy stories, the setting was gorgeously and intricately described, and this really added to how much I enjoyed this novel. The journey that Charlotte and Sonja embark on was so interesting to read about, and the fact that I could visualise all the parts of their journey and the places they visit definitely added to this enjoyment. The illustrations were beautiful and made the whole novel that much more magical.

The writing itself was very polished and the descriptions were wonderful; it very much tied the brilliant characterisation and the setting descriptions all together to create a brilliant story. Malouf perfectly masters the art of creating a story for children that is sophisticated, yet with a certain air of playfulness. The mystery at the heart of the novel surrounding Charlotte and Sonja's background was maintained well throughout the story, culminating in an ending I was not expecting! Even though fantasy is not my favourite genre, overall, I very much enjoyed this book, and I'm intrigued to find out what Malouf comes up with next!

Check out Juman Malouf here:

Until next time :)

Monday 6 August 2018

BOOK REVIEW | 'Gravity Well' by Melanie Jootsen (****)

Hey guys, and happy Monday! Today I am thrilled to be sharing with you another book review, this time of a spectacular new novel called Gravity Well, by Melanie Jootsen. I had no idea what to expect going into this, however I must say I found myself hooked on the story and what happened to the characters. I don't think I have ever read a novel that is about space that isn't a sci-fi book, so I was very intrigued to find out what this novel was all about.

Gravity Well follows Lotte and her former best friend, Eve, and how after many years of being estranged, multiple events force their lives to become entwined again. Lotte has just been handed a life-changing diagnosis, and Eve is battling her own demons, trying to figure out what point it was that everything changed. But things have a way of resolving themselves in their own time, and the two women have no choice but to accept the way things have become. Can a friendship be rebuilt after even the most devastating loss?

I was kindly sent Gravity Well by Scribe Books in exchange for an honest review :)

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

Lotte is an astronomer who spends her nights peering into deep space rather than looking too closely at herself. When she returns to her hometown after years in South America, reeling from a devastating diagnosis, she finds that much has changed. Lotte’s father has remarried, and she feels like an outsider in the house she grew up in. She’s estranged from her former best friend, Eve, who is busy with her own life, and unsure of how to recover the closeness they once shared. Initially, Lotte's return causes disharmony, but then it is the catalyst for a much more devastating event — an event that will change Lotte and Eve's lives forever.

If families are like solar systems — bodies that orbit in time with one another, sometimes close and sometimes far away — what is the force that drives them? And what are the consequences when the weight of one planet tugs others off course?

The long-awaited second novel from the award-winning Melanie Joosten, 'Gravity Well' is a striking and tender tale of friendship and family: both the family we are born to, and the family we choose. Deeply compassionate and profoundly moving, it is a heartrending portrait of how we rebuild when the worst has happened.

I am always one to champion books about female friendship, however this novel explored it at a level of intricacy and complexity that I haven't seen that much in literature. Add in the fact that one of the main characters is an astronomer, and this was probably one of the most unique and interesting novels that I have read all year. Gravity Well is not only gorgeously written, but really gets into the very heart of what being part of a family feels like; the good times, and the catastrophically bad times. Both Lotte and Eve were very interesting and complex characters, and I liked the two narratives in the story, it really made the whole novel more interesting. I think the other relationships in the novel were also facinating to read about their development - especially Lotte's relationship with her mother and father. Altogether, the human relationships in this novel were brilliantly portrayed and explored and this helped to drive the plot forward.

Lotte's career as an astronomer was something I was interested to read about, and I was not disappointed on this front. I think the astronomy in this book had obviously been very well researched and it didn't go completely over my head, which I was grateful for! It was refreshing to read about a strong and independent woman who loved what she did and was career-focused, despite certain people either not understanding that or not being okay with it. The challenges that both women face in this book were portrayed brilliantly and very realistically. The emotion really came through and I cared for them both throughout the whole novel. Gravity Well is itself an astrological definition, but the novel is about people, and their interactions, and how they survive on a planet and its workings that often aren't very kind to them. 

Altogether, I loved Gravity Well and it was unlike any book I have read before. If you're looking for a gorgeously written novel about astrology, female friendship and human relationships, then this is definitely the novel for you.

Check out the Q&A I did with Melanie Jootsen as part of the Gravity Well blog tour, here:

Check out Melanie Jootsen here:

Until next time :)

Friday 3 August 2018

BOOK REVIEW | 'What Girls Are Made Of' by Elana K. Arnold (****)

Hey guys, and happy Friday! Today I am excited to review another brilliant book I have read recently - What Girls Are Made Of by Elena K. Arnold. When I first read the blurb for this book, I had high expectations that it would be an important, fierce feminist read. I'm pleased to say that I was not disappointed :)

What Girls Are Made Of follows sixteen-year-old Nina, who is just coming to terms with being a young woman, and is for the first time experiencing all that comes with it. New relationships, not having control over her body and its functions, the simultaneous beauty and the goriness of it. Nina's relationship with her boyfriend, Seth, is perhaps the most confusing part of it all. Is pain an inseperable part of love? Could she have been a better version of herself, even if she wasn't loved in the first place? All of this is explored and more, in this brutal yet tender portrayal of a girl growing up, and discovering that what girls are made of, is perhaps the most complex question of all.

I was kindly sent What Girls Are Made Of by Andersen Press in exchange for an honest review :)

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

A 2017 National Book Award for Young People's Literature Finalist

This is not a story of sugar and spice and everything nice.

When Nina Faye was fourteen, her mother told her there was no such thing as unconditional love. Nina believed her. Now Nina is sixteen. And she'll do anything for the boy she loves, just to prove she's worthy of him. But when he breaks up with her, Nina is lost. What if she is not a girlfriend? What is she made of?

Broken-hearted, Nina tries to figure out what the conditions of love are. She's been volunteering at a high-kill animal shelter where she realizes that for dogs waiting to be adopted, love comes only to those with youth, symmetry, and quietness. She also ruminates on the strange, dark time her mother took her to Italy to see statues of saints who endured unspeakable torture because of their unquestioning devotion to the divine. Is this what love is?

This was definitely not a comfortable read, but often, the most important books aren't comfortable, and that's the point. What Girls Are Made Of really made me explore and scrutinize what it really means to be a woman, and how if you think about it, not much has changed in terms of how people view women who overstep the boundaries. I thought this book was an honest and unflinching portrayal of what it means to be a woman, and what women are made of - both physically and emotionally. I think all the discussion about sex, contraception, and abortion were all very well dealt with - and were both honest and informative, without any frills. It's so important to have topics like these normalised in fiction, particularly YA fiction, because they are a normal part of everyday life for women, things they are constantly taught to be ashamed of. 

I think Nina was a very interesting character, and was portrayed as a realistic teenage girl. She wasn't perfect, but then which teenage girl is? Her experiences, however confused and messy, were portrayed brilliantly - Arnold did not shy away from describing Nina's experiences such as abortion and orgasm in minute detail. Although this wasn't easy reading, I did really appreciate the effort made to show the female experience in all its (at times) gruesome detail. 

I liked the interludes in between chapters that were 'written' by Nina, exploring what it means to be a woman, using examples from history and myth, and I really enjoyed the distinct flavour of magical realism in these passages. I think these sections added gorgeously to what the book was trying to do, in terms of sharing every aspect of what it means to be a woman, and how the experience can actually inspire creativity in the most magical way. 

Altogether, although it was definitely not easy reading, I very much enjoyed What Girls Are Made Of. It is an incredibly thought-provoking, intricate exploration of sex, society and the circumstances that shape a person to what they become. The writing was exquisite, and I hope many more young women and men read this book, as it is an undeniably important novel.

Check out Elana K. Arnold here:

Until next time :)

Wednesday 1 August 2018

BOOK REVIEW | 'A Sky Painted Gold' by Laura Wood (****)

Hey guys, and happy Wednesday! Today I am excited to be sharing with you another book review (I'm on a roll, I know!) of a wonderful summer YA novel I read recently: A Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood. I made it my mission to read lots of summery YA novels these next to months and I'm so happy I picked this one up to kick off my summer reading right!

A Sky Painted Gold follows sixteen year old Lou, who is enjoying yet another langorous summer in Cornwall, with not much to do but write her stories, hang out with her family, and spend afternoons sneaking into the Cardew house. But this summer is set to be different than any other before it. Lou's sister Alice is getting married and moving out of the family home, and the Cardews are back in their house for the summer, leaving Lou with no place to hide. Suddenly instead of writing her stories, Lou finds herself right in the middle of one: champagne, cocktails, scandal and new friends that live a life of excess. Is this really the summer of a lifetime, or will Lou lose herself along the way?

I was kindly sent A Sky Painted Gold by Scholastic in exchange for an honest review :)

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

Growing up in her sleepy Cornish village dreaming of being a writer, sixteen-year-old Lou has always wondered about the grand Cardew house which has stood empty for years. And when the owners arrive for the summer - a handsome, dashing brother and sister - Lou is quite swept off her feet and into a world of moonlit cocktail parties and glamour beyond her wildest dreams.

But, as she grows closer to the Cardews, is she abandoning her own ambitions... And is there something darker lurking at the heart of the Cardew family?

A gorgeously dreamy coming-of-age romance set against a stunning Gatsby-esque backdrop, this is perfect for fans of I Capture the Castle and Eva Ibbotson.

I didn't quite know what to expect from this book, however I soon found myself completely enchanted by the story and the characters. I don't read them very often but when I do, I love historical novels, and this one set in 1920s Cornwall sounded like one I would totally fall in love with. Spoiler: I was right. The writing was lyrically beautiful and so reminiscent of the lazy summers I myself have experienced in Cornwall for many years. Right from the start I really cared about Lou and related to her state of helplessness in regards to where she saw her future. Obviously as a woman living in the 21st century I have a lot more choice in regards to my future plans, however I did understand Lou's feeling of pressure to bow down to what her family wanted her to do. Lou is an facinating, strong female character and I found her development so interesting to read about. I particularly enjoyed how she loved writing. 

All of the characters were so interesting and complex, and this definitely added to how much I enjoyed the story. I think Lou's family were portrayed brilliantly, especially between Lou and her mother and her sister. I also loved the friendships between the women in the Cardew house - A Sky Painted Gold definitely has a Gatsby feel, however the way that Wood portrays the women in the novel is a million miles away from Fitzgerald's writing. 

As I mentioned before, the writing was so beautifully crafted so evocative in its descriptions. It is unlike any YA novel I have read before in terms of the story, and I particularly enjoyed the underlying darkness that lingered throughout most of the story. Despite the fact that A Sky Painted Gold is set in the past, Wood included a fair bit of diversity in the book, which is refreshing. I think some people forget that even though at the time diversity was not considered to be important, or a good things, people of different sexual orientation and race still existed, and they are important to be included in new 'histories' that we write.  

Overall, I absolutely adored A Sky Painted Gold, and it is definitely the book you need to be packing to take with you if you are going on holiday this year. If you're going to Cornwall like me, even better!

Check out Laura Wood here:

Until next time :)