Monday, 30 January 2017

CARAVAL - Blog Tour

Blog Tour
Title: Caraval
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date: 31st January 2017 (UK & US)

"Whatever youve heard about Caraval, it doesnt compare to the reality. Its more than just a game or a performance. Its the closest youll ever find to magic in this world."

Welcome to the 5th and final day in the Caraval Blog Tour!
Before we begin, for those of you who might not know much about this wonderful book, here's the synopsis:

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their ruthless father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the legendary, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.
Then, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation to Caraval finally arrives. So, Tella enlists a mysterious sailor’s help to whisk Scarlett away to this year’s show. But as soon as the trio arrives, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organiser, Legend.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nonetheless soon becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with her sister, with Legend, and with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

I'd be surprised if you don't know this already, but I loved Caraval. It was one of my top 10 reads of 2016, and I even wrote a blog post stating 5 reasons why you should pre-order it (you can read that HERE if you wish.)
 After finishing this book, the one question in mind (apart from, can I have book 2 now, please!?) was what actors/actresses would fill these roles perfectly, because if you don't know already, Caraval has been optioned for film! (insert squeals of delight)
I'm still debating about my dream cast, so instead here is Stephanie Garber telling us about her dream Caraval cast:

"My Dream Cast for Caraval"
The day Caraval sold was one of the most magical days of my life. It was a dream come true to finally sell a book, after years and years of writing and rejection. Then something even more incredible happened, Twentieth Century Fox bought the film option.
I’m not going to lie, ever since then I’ve been fantasizing about who would make up my dream cast.

I love Maria Avgeropoulos’ portrayal of Octavia on the television show The 100—I think she’s fierce but vulnerable, and when I used to watch the show I rooted for her in every scene, so I think she would make an excellent Scarlett.

 Earlier this year I watched the live action Cinderella starring, because my sister told me the party scene made her think of Caraval. She was totally right. But the party wasn’t the only thing that reminded me of Caraval. When I saw the movie’s star, Lily James, I thought she would be the perfect actress to play Scarlett’s younger and more spontaneous sister, Donatella.

Governer Dragna
Christoph Waltz is one of my favorite actors. I think he plays especially great villains, so I would love to see him portray the role of Scarlett and Donatella’s cruel father, Governor Dragna.

I know I’ve already mentioned one actor from The 100, but that show has such a great cast I couldn’t help but pick another actor for my dream cast of Caraval. Bob Morley plays Bellamy Blake on the 100, and he has such a strong, commanding presence that I think would make a fantastic Dante. All he needs is some tattoos.

Julian is one of my favorite characters in Caraval, which is probably why I’ve had the hardest time casting him. So if anyone thinks they’ve found the perfect actor to play Julian please let me know. If Rodrigo Santoro from Westworld were younger I think he would do a great job, but sadly he’s a little too old now.
(Click each of the actors/actresses names to find out more information about them)

I don't know about you, but I am loving this dream cast! (I think Stephanie's dream cast has just become my dream cast.) They all fit the bill perfectly!

So we've heard who Stephanie likes, but now it's your turn: Stephanie & I would love to hear who would be part of your dream cast for Caraval! Share your ideas in the comments below!

About the author:

Stephanie Garber loves Disneyland because it’s the one place on earth where she feels as if the fantastical stories she loves to write about could actually come to life. When she's not writing young adult fantasy, she teaches creative writing at a private college in northern California, where she’s known for turning assignments into games and taking students on field trips that involve book signings. Caraval is her first novel for young adults.
Find her on: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

That is now a wrap on the Caraval Blog Tour, which means that we are only ONE DAY away from the long awaited release of Caraval!
Don't forget to pick up your copy tomorrow (Jan 31st!) - Amazon | Waterstones | Whsmith
(Thank you to Jenni and the whole Chapter5/Hodder team for inviting me to take part in the blog tour & thank you to Stephanie for taking the time to share her dream cast!)

Thursday, 12 January 2017

A Quiet Kind Of Thunder - Review

Book Review:
Title: A Quiet Kind Of Thunder
Author: Sara Barnard
Publisher: Macmillan Books
I received an early copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Steffi doesn't talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can't hear, but he can listen.
Their love isn't a lightning strike, it's the rumbling roll of thunder.

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life - she's been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He's deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she's assigned to look after him. To Rhys, it doesn't matter that Steffi doesn't talk, and as they find ways to communicate, Steffi finds that she does have a voice, and that she's falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it. 

What an adorable book!
Having never read a book that dealt with selective mutism before and not knowing much about it, I was excited to read A Quiet Kind of Thunder and broaden my knowledge on the disorder.
But, as well as teaching me about selective mutism, this book managed to teach me more about the deaf community and BSL, which I loved. It also got me thinking about how much we take our voices and hearing for granted. Imagine how difficult life would be if you couldn't speak or hear.
Any book that can teach me something new and important and get me thinking is, in my mind, already a fantastic book.

Steffi is a selective mute. Rhys is deaf. In theory, it should be hard for these two communicate, but thanks to BSL and their perseverance they managed to fight through the barriers. Their relationship is what really made this book for me. It was cute, funny, awkward and no way near perfect.
No relationship is ever truly perfect. There's always going to be some miscommunication. There's always going to be some struggles. But the main thing that matters is if both parties are able to overcome these hurdles to keep their love alive, which both Steffi & Rhys managed to do.

Alongside the romance, I really enjoyed the friendship between Steffi and Tem. There is something so empowering about female friendships. In a lot of YA books, girls are always pitted against each other which I loathe, so when I read a book with a strong friendship, I can't help but fall in love even more. 

Also, I just want to say that even though this book focuses on Steffi and her arc mainly, I loved that Rhys had his own arc as well. In AQKOT, Rhys is the love interest, but he is actually so much more than that. He had his own battles to face, the main one being, feeling helpless when it came to 'looking after' Steffi. He constantly felt inadequate and it broke my heart.
I think Sara Barnard dealt with both characters and their disorders extremely well - you can easily tell that a lot of research went into writing this book, which I appreciate so much!

Overall, I completely adored A Quiet Kind of Thunder & I highly recommend picking this book up - it's heart-warming, thought-provoking and has a realistic depiction of social anxiety.
This was my first book by Sara Barnard, but it certainly won't be my last!

4 Stars

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Mafiosa - Review

Book Review:
Title: Mafiosa
Author: Catherine Doyle
Publisher: ChickenHouse Books
I received an early copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

"We pealed into a fit of laughter, his amusement ringing in my ears, my smile so big it could have broken my face, because we were both cheating just for one night - we were both wearing masks belonging to other people, and it was exhilarating"

A blood war rages on the streets of Chicago. Protected by an infamous Mafia family, Sophie is living a dangerous lie, pretending to lead a normal life. But the deceit can't last for ever. Her heart belongs to a killer and Sophie's the prime target of a rival clan. She's determined to seek revenge on her mother's murderers, but can she pay the price - can she be a Mafiosa?

I’m not going to lie, writing this review is going to be very hard for me. Finishing a series you absolutely love is so bittersweet – on one hand, the moment you’ve been waiting for has arrived, you get to know how the story ends and the fate of every character, but on the other hand, you may never see the characters you’ve become so attached to *cough* Luca *cough* ever again. It’s quite the weird feeling...

But, enough of that babble - let’s get into my thoughts of this finale!

Normally, going into a finale/sequel, there’s always a part of you that is worried that it is never going to live up to its predecessor, but I completely trusted Cat to write the most epic, and explosive finale – and boy did she! THIS. BOOK. WAS. PHENOMENAL! The whole trilogy is phenomenal!
The Blood For Blood Trilogy is the kind of series where the writing, plot and characters get better and better with each book. I enjoyed Vendetta, I loved Inferno, but Mafiosa is without a doubt my favourite of the three – it was pretty much close to perfection!

I think what makes this book so special is the unique plot line. How many YA books can you name that follow the mafia? Personally, this is the only YA mafia book I know of, and because of that I find myself so immersed in this world. It’s new, refreshing and dark. Most definitely dark.

Mafiosa is probably the darkest of the three. There's more guns, blood and murder, you know, pretty much all the good stuff! But on top of that, we get to see a different, more stronger side to Sophie.
Sophie has never been the type to just sit back and stay out of the drama, but she has undoubtedly struggled to cope with the world she has discovered. Well, in Mafiosa, that has all changed. Sophie has accepted who she is and she is ready to fight back.

I really admired Sophie in this book. After everything she has been through, you would expect her to completely fall apart, and although she sometimes did, she bravely held it together most of the time. And I think that is partially due to the two special people she had left in her life: Millie & Luca. Without these two, I honestly believe Sophie would have cracked. They helped bring some normalcy into her crazy life. They kept her grounded. And it's for that reason that they are both my favourite characters of the trilogy. Like honestly guys, try to find a best friend like Millie and a boyfriend/partner like Luca - they will bring so much light into your life!

And I know I've said it before, but after finishing this trilogy you can't help the bittersweet feeling, because you realise there's no more Millie & Luca. There's no more "I don't respect your authority." There's no more random disney references. (I could go on, but I think you get my point.)
But saying that, I'm not completely upset, because I thought that the ending of this trilogy was brilliant. Everything tied up nicely, there were no loose ends, yet it was still left quite open ended, which worked perfectly considering we are dealing with the mafia and you know, 'The mafia never dies.' 
I genuinely couldn't have asked for a better, more realistic ending.

Overall, this was a fantastic conclusion to what has become one of my favourite trilogies of all time!
I cannot wait to see what Cat has in store for us next!

5 Stars

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Top 10 Reads of 2016

It's already that time of year again - the time where we look back at our year in books!
In terms of numbers, 2016 has probably been my best year, having managed to read 103 books! (All while juggling college work!)
But, in terms of the number of 5 stars I've given out, 2016 hasn't been the best. I usually struggle to narrow my favourite reads down to 10 books, but for some reason it was actually quite easy this year and I could honestly just about choose 10 favourite books. This isn't necessarily because I read a lot of awful books (I gave out mostly 4 stars this year,) instead it's because my expectations of a 5 star book have risen.

But anyways, I present to you, in no particular order, my Top 10 Reads of 2016!!

A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness
Firstly, we have the brilliant and heart-breaking A Monster Calls. This book had been sat on my TBR for over a year, just waiting to be read. It wasn't until I saw the final movie trailer did I realise that I NEEDED to read this book right away. It was heart-breakingly beautiful and had one of the most unique ways of portraying grief and loss. (Make sure to have a few tissues on hand when reading this one)

The Raven King - Maggie Stiefvater
Next we have the conclusion to TRC, The Raven King. I read all four books in this series this year, but The Raven King has to be my favourite of them all - I think what I loved most about this book was the relationships, both romantic and platonic. Every time members of the gang interacted with each other, you could see the love that was present. If it wasn't for these characters, I wouldn't have enjoyed this series as much as I did. (Click the cover to read my review)

A Court of Mist and Fury - Sarah J Maas
I don't think anyone is surprised that this is on my list, considering how much I've gushed about it. I loved this book so much. Last year ACOTAR failed to make it in my Top 10 because I felt like it was missing something, well whatever that thing was, ACOMAF has it and much more. Like I said in my review it was an epic, romantic, feminist, fantasy novel. If you didn't enjoy the first book, I recommend you pick up the second, because it is SO much better! (Click the cover to read my review)

The Unexpected Everything - Morgan Matson
The Unexpected Everything is my favourite Morgan Matson book to date! It's the perfect book to read during the summer time or whenever you're in need of a pick-me-up. I guarantee it will leave you with your heart full and a smile on your face. Also, the love interest in this book is just the sweeeetest!! Clark is 100% a cinnamon roll, too pure for this world!

A Torch Against the Night - Sabaa Tahir
I cannot explain how glad I am that AEITA wasn't a standalone! I knew from the start that this series had potential to be phenomenal, and Sabaa Tahir has managed to live up to that potential! This book kept me on the edge of my seat throughout - Sabaa might be the new queen of plot twists, because damn, there were so many I honestly did not see coming! I cannot wait to see what Sabaa Tahir has in store for these characters in the next instalment. (Click the cover to read my review)

Some Kind of Perfect - Krista & Becca Ritchie
Next up we have the final book/epilogue to one of my favourite series ever. I think this was the perfect end to the Addicted/Calloway Sisters series - it spans over 10 years, giving us an insight into how life has changed from the core 6 being young adults and finding their footing, to them having their own family. It had everything you'd expect from a KBRitchie book - happy moments, sad moments, funny moments, cute moments, it was the whole package! It was also a great way to introduce us properly to all the children before we get to know them more in the Like Us series.

It Ends With Us - Colleen Hoover
This book! THIS BOOK! I don't think I've ever cried so much because of a book before. While reading this book I was a blubbering mess. Days after reading this book, I was still a blubbering mess. It Ends With Us is raw, painful & sad, but it is such an important book. I don't want to go into the details, because I think it's best to go into this book completely blind, but this is a book everyone should read because of how honest it is. It's completely heart-wrenching, but 100% worth it!

Mafiosa - Catherine Doyle
Third book in the Blood For Blood Trilogy, and my favourite out of the three. This was a pretty fantastic book - It had everything you would want and expect in a finale, especially one to do with the mafia. So much plotting. So much fighting. But, on top of all of that, we had one of the strongest friendships between Sophie & Millie and one of the swooniest relationships. I cannot recommend this trilogy enough - READ IT! (Click the cover to read my review)

Caraval - Stephanie Garber
Caraval is one of the best debuts I have ever read - I loved it so much! The writing was exquisite, so much so that at times I felt as though I was actually part of the world and not just reading about it. The romance wasn't overbearing, there was just the perfect amount to keep any hopeless romantic (aka me) satisfied. And the world-building was truly magical. This book will hook you from page one and by the end you will be begging for more! (Click the cover for 5 reasons to pre-order Caraval)

Crooked Kingdom - Leigh Bardugo
Last, but certainly not least, we have the perfection that is Crooked Kingdom. So the books in my top 10 are in no particular order, but Crooked Kingdom is undoubtedly my favourite book of the year! I simply cannot fault this book at all - it was perfect. My heart went through the blender while reading CK, but I wouldn't have had it any other way, because with those moments of sadness, there were moments of victory, which made it all worth it. I will miss my 6 precious sinnamon rolls, but hopefully we'll see them again in the future *fingers crossed* (click the cover to read my review)

So, there we have it, My Top 10 Reads of 2016!
Did you spot any of your favourites? If so, which ones? If not, what were some of your favourites of the year?