Wednesday, 30 April 2014

March + April TBR Pile Wrap-Up!



Here are the books I read in March and April! Sorry for the lack of posts, but I'm starting Cambridge home-schooling and it's a lot of work, so I'm not able to post/read as much, but I will try to when I get the opportunity! :)

Books Read in March:
 The Secret CountessThe Morning GiftWithering Tights (Misadventures of Tallulah Casey, #1)Chase Tinker and the House of Magic (Chase Tinker, #1)Chase Tinker and the House of Secrets (Chase Tinker, #2)

My favourites this month were definitely Chase Tinker and the House of Secrets and The Morning Gift! I adored them! 

Books Read in April:
Dandelion ClocksThe Throne of Fire (Kane Chronicles, #2)The Serpent's Shadow (Kane Chronicles, #3)The Son of Sobek (Percy Jackson & Kane Chronicles Crossover, #1)The One and Only IvanTimmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made52 Reasons to Hate My FatherWings (Wings, #1)Spells (Wings, #2)Wild (Wings, #3)Rose and the Lost Princess (Rose, #2)

I read some REALLY good books in April! My favourites definitely being Dandelion Clocks by Rebecca Westcott, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, The Throne of Fire and The Son of Sobek by Rick Riordan and 52 Reasons to Hate my Father! I definitely had a good reading month in April!

Have you read any of these and did you enjoy it? What was your favourite April read? :)
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Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Review - The One and Only Ivan - Katherine Applegate



The One and Only IvanTitle: The One and Only Ivan
Author: Katherine Applegate
Series: N/A
Publication: January 17th 2012, HarperCollins
Pages: 256 pages, Paperback
Genre: Middle-Grade
Source: Thank you to Exclusive Books for sending me this in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 5/5 CUPCAKES!
Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.
Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.
Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.
Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.
When I opened my review package and I was greeted by the sight of this cover I had been admiring on my Goodreads wishlist shelf for two years, I was beyond ecstatic. This book exceeded my expectations. The One and Only Ivan was a beautiful, honest, heart-breaking novel that will leave a gorilla-shaped imprint on your heart.

The One and Only Ivan is based on a true story of a silverback gorilla that was taken from his home in Africa when his parents were ruthlessly poached and then was shipped, with his sister, to a buyer in America. Not being able to cope with the fear and distress, Ivan's sister passed away on the journey, leaving Ivan feeling abandoned, scared and alone. In the story, the only things that make Ivan's day better are Stella, Julia and Bob, the friends he has made at the mall where they are being held. When a baby elephant named Ruby arrives, Ivan watches painfully as he sees her former lively spirit slowly being extinguished. Ivan makes a silent promise to himself, and a friend of his, that he will protect Ruby and get her out of this cramped cage. He wants to give her a chance of freedom, something he can't remember ever having.

This book tugged on my heart strings. It made me think. It had me smiling and it had me crying, I don't think I can quite express how much I loved this book!

I fell in love with the kind, gentle Ivan and his wonderful friends. I was spellbound by Katherine's riveting, enchanting poetic writing style. I fell head-over-heels in love with the story. Such vivid imagery was seen, such heartfelt words read, such precious moments that made me adore the gorilla species, hope was given and my faith in humanity was restored. A magical story that is inspiring and haunting, one that will hook you from the beginning and will linger with you long after the last page has been read.

The characters were so real and the writing so beautiful, I was felt like I was being transported right next to Ivan. Ivan is so gentle and so kind and the hardships he has had to endure broke my heart. I love how Katherine made this book so original by writing the book from a gorilla's perspective. We see the way Ivan's brain works and being able to see how he views things made this such a wonderful, original reading experience. Ivan's voice is strong and resonates through the story. The loneliness, isolation and unhappiness is plaintive in the way this is written. The reader connects with Ivan and forms a thorough understanding of him. I so badly wanted to hug him and tell him that everything is going to be fine. A main character you will form a strong bond with!

I adored the secondary characters, too. They were amazing and so real. There was Stella, the wise, kindle old elephant who I loved. Elephants are one of my favourite animals and seeing such a gentle, wonderful creature in pain and being mistreated evoked such anger and sadness within me. I adored Bob, Ruby and Julia! Bob is the street dog that sneaks into Ivan's cage and sleeps there at night. Ruby is the sweet, inquisitve baby elephant that sits outside Ivan's cage and draws pictures. Seeing Ivan's amazing relationship ship with each of these charactars was remarkable. I thought it was stunning and I appreciate and admire the great care and thought that was put in creating such beautiful characters and the affectionate relationship they shared.

This story is based on a real-life gorilla called Ivan, who went through the same horrifying events that Ivan in the book did. This book shows how despicable humans can be and how they are capable of being so cruel towards innocent animals, but how those animals love them back and trust them anyway. It really saddened me to read about how awful people can be and how trusting these animals are, they just don't deserve it. 

Ivan's voice is so honest and unflinching, he shares everything with us. I think that animals in real life see things the same way, yet people treat them with disregard and it really maddens me that people can't see how wonderful these creatures are. I hope everyone gets a chance to read this book, so they can understand how caring, gentle, clever, loving and intuitive animals are.

My review didn't do this book justice. Katherine Applegate has weaved together a haunting, beautiful story, filled with such vibrant, lovable characters that have set themselves a firm place in my heart. The writing is poetic and entrancing, the sentences seemingly simple but formed so that they hold such meaning. A novel filled with friendship, love, fierce loyalty and showing us that even on the darkest days, hope can be found. The One and Only Ivan broke my heart, tugged on my heart strings, had me laughing, smiling and crying but slowly fastened my heart back together. I lived in the world, relished in the words and fell in love with characters. A haunting, uplifting story that I will cherish forever.

I give it: 5/5 CUPCAKES!
GIVEAWAY:
Because I loved this book SO MUCH and just had such an amazing time reading it, I am giving one lucky reader a chance to win a copy! This is a book I feel everyone should read as it was truly spectacular!

TERMS AND CONDITIONS:
1. You must be 13+ and if not, you must have your parent/guardian's consent.
2. This is SOUTH AFRICA ONLY. Sorry my international followers, I will have an INT one when I hit 500! :)
3. You must be able to provide a legit street/P.O. box address, please! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Blog Tour Review - Rose and the Lost Princess - Holly Webb

Rose and the Lost Princess
Author: Holly Webb
Series: Rose #2
Pages: 256 Pages, Kindle
Publication: April 1 2014, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Genre: Middle-Grade, Fantasy
Source: To review for a blog tour!
Rating: 4/5 Cupcakes!
Now an apprentice magician, Rose is asked to help find a very special missing person.
Turning the worn pages of her spell book, Rose can't believe how much her life has changed. Once a poor orphan, she is now an apprentice to the king's chief magician. But when the country's beloved princess vanishes, everything changes. As rumors of dark magic fly through the city, the king asks Rose for help. She must find the missing princess, before all is lost.
When I was approached to review this for the Rose and the Lost Princess blog tour, I was excited! I've always wanted to read one of Holly Webb's books since I was small and I was glad that the opportunity finally arose. This was a delightful novel that was so much fun to read. I went into this novel completely blind, as I hadn't read the first one yet, but I still had such a blast reading it!

In the second installment in the Rose series, Rose is not just an orphan anymore. She is a servant...and a magician's apprentice. However, Rose and her fellow magicians are in trouble. After a rogue magician went wild, murdering children and drinking their blood to try and find the recipe to being immortal, the majority of the population are shunning all magicians of every kind, deeming them all to be murderers. Although she has kept a low profile, the servants she lives with are terrified of her and are making her life a misery, not even the magical lessons she receives with Freddie are able to keep her in good spirits. A dark, mysterious spell has been set on the whole of England. Lakes are completely frozen over, there is a constant fall of snow...and the scent of magic hangs heavy in the air and the population is convinced that this is some sinister spell. Things turn from bad to worse for the magicians, as the beloved Princess Jane is captured without a trace. Accusatory fingers are being pointed at Rose and others of her kind, and if they don't find the princess, dispel all the terrible rumours and find a way to stop this eternal winter, it could spell death for Rose and her friends.

When I first started reading Rose and the Lost Princess, I was slightly lost. I hadn't managed to read the first book in time and I was entering the book completely blindfolded. However, once I had gathered my bearings, I was  completely captivated by this novel and I flew through the pages. I love middle-grade books, especially ones involving magic and fairy-tales and R&tLP was a fantastic read that contained just that!

What I loved most about this book was Holly Webb's writing and the imagery she depicted. The writing is quaint and magical in itself, which adds to the uniqueness of the story. I loved the setting, as well! I could just picture the endless snow, the mind-numbing cold and the struggle it was to find the princess's captor in such extreme weather conditions. I could picture everything clearly and I loved the how at times the book had a warm, relaxed, humorous atmosphere present but easily switched over to a captivating tale with an undercurrent of chilling, sinister mystery and magic. I adore Holly Webb's writing, whimsical, charming, descriptive, which added such charm to this delightful story!

I liked the characters, although I would've liked to see more character development perhaps. In the beginning of the book I couldn't quite connect with Rose, but throughout the story I found myself admiring the strength and determination she possessed and grew to become very fond of her. She's extremely brave and feisty, but she also manages to be sweet and polite and I think she was perfectly balanced out. I absolutely adored Bella, the magician's spunky little girl with a sharp tongue and quick thinking, she was definitely one of my favourites! Freddie and Bill were also lovely and I loved watching the banter that passed  between them and Rose!

I thought the plot was thought-out quite well. I loved the whole idea behind this book and it reminded me slightly of the Disney movie, Frozen. I did find the beginning quite slow, but when Rose was sent to live with the princess to protect her, I couldn't read the book fast enough! I would've liked to see more action from the beginning and possibly more clues leading up to the revelation of who the villain was. I do think the was the princess was hidden was genius and I wasn't expecting it in the slightest!

Overall, Rose and the Lost Princess was a truly charming read and I can see myself, in the near future, diving back into that world. I will definitely be reading the rest of the books in this series, as well as the first one! I grew to love the feisty characters with their vibrant personalities, I absolutely loved the whole feel of this book that was laden with mystery and magic, I thought the ending was exceptionally clever and the writing was truly gorgeous. An enchanting, captivating book that was beautifully crafted. I loved reading about the Frost Fair and the way England was back in the olden days. An original read I would recommend for a wintery day when you want to be transported to a magical, yet sinister, world. Rose and the Lost Princess will sweep you away!

I give it: 4/5 CUPCAKES!
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Monday, 14 April 2014

Discussion Post: Seasonal Reading



I am a summer person. I love summer. I love the heat, I love the sun, I love lying in the sun, I love the summer vibe and I love everything about summer. I love the fluffy contemporary books I read while sitting outside, a warm breeze ruffling my hair, whilst watching the sunset paint it's fiery light across the sky. Whenever the air changes and I start to feel that winter chill, I like it for a few weeks and then I want summer back. This year, I am surprisingly looking forward to winter! At first this befuddled me, but then I realised why. I have such good bookish memories of winter. When I was 12 I read the Twilight series, I remember it being dark and rainy and I was huddled up under the blanket totally lost in that world. (I was 12, my reading taste wasn't as refined back then. Don't judge me haha!) I loved that in the Twilight books it was this dark atmosphere and in reality it was also dark and rainy and the book fitted that kind of weather perfectly.

Where I live, the summers can be pretty hot and the winter weather can be pretty bad. Hectic rain, gale force like winds and biting cold weather. Not so nice if you're an active person or someone who is out and about a lot, but for me it's perfect as long as it's not constant. I 
love lying under the blanket on the couch, curled up with a nice cup of hot chocolate and a good book. We had that kind of weather last week and I loved it, especially as the books I were reading were paranormal type books. 

In winter I like reading books in the paranormal/fantasy genre because it's just enhances the reading experience. If you're reading a book with ghosts in or  vampires or so, it's so much more exciting and frightening reading it when the rain is lashing the windows and the wind is howling, instead of on a hot summer's day at the beach.

My reading changes with the seasons. In autumn I like to read peaceful, mellow books. In summer I like to read fun contemporary romances. In winter I like to read paranormal/dystopian books. In spring I like to read classics, like Anne of Green Gables and such.

Does your reading change with the seasons? Can you recommend any good wintery/magical/dystopian books?
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It's Monday! What are you reading? #2


This meme is hosted by BookJourney!

Books I Read Last Week:
The Serpent's Shadow (Kane Chronicles, #3)The Son of Sobek (Percy Jackson & Kane Chronicles Crossover, #1)The One and Only IvanTimmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made

Books I Am Currently Reading:
52 Reasons to Hate My Father
I'm really enjoying this! It's quite original and it's funny and I think it's going to have an important lesson behind  it :)
Books I Will Most Likely Read Afterwards:
The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave, #1)Starcrossed (Starcrossed, #1)

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Saturday, 12 April 2014

Stacking the Shelves #60

Stacking the Shelves

EEK! I'm so excited for the books I've received this week! Wednesday was an EPIC mail day. I received 14 books to review in one day and I was just so happy because I've never received so many at a time before! I've read a few of them and the ones I've read I have LOVED, so, quite a few reviews coming up!


I read, It's a Book (a really cute picture book!), The One and Only Ivan (AMAZING! Giveaway coming soon, it's one of my favourites!) and Timmy Failure.

Really excited for Maggot Moon and the Cressida Cowell books!

What did you get this week?

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Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Review - Chase Tinker and the House of Magic - Malia Ann Haberman

Chase Tinker and the House of Magic (Chase Tinker, #1)Title: Chase Tinker and the House of Magic
Author: Malia Ann Haberman
Series: Chase Tinker #1
Pages: 248 Pages, Kindle
Publication: Crossroad Press, August 13th 2012
Genre: Middle-Grade, Fantasy
Source: Thanks to the author for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 4/5 Cupcakes!
In Chase Tinker's world, magic, lies and secrets can be a lethal combination... 
Thirteen-year-old Chase Tinker can't understand why he has the power to move things with his mind. Besides that, his dad has been missing for over a year, causing his mom to be too upset to pay much attention to her sons, so now he's been busted for shoplifting. As if this isn't enough to worry about, his younger brother Andy suddenly has a weird magical ability too. Can things get any crazier? Chase thinks. 
Then, a grandfather they thought to be long dead arrives at their door. He wants Chase and Andy to come visit him so they can learn about their supernatural heritage, and why they have magical powers in the first place. 
The boys soon find out that Grandfather, along with their cousin Janie, lives on a remote island in the middle of Puget Sound in an out-of-this-world house where fantastic magic can be found in practically every room, stairway and corridor. Chase can't believe their dad has been keeping so much from them. 
It's an even bigger shock when Chase learns that all their magic is controlled by a powerful and mysterious Relic in the attic, and if anything happens to this Relic, every bit of Tinker magic will be lost forever. He's even more disturbed when he learns his family has a dark and powerful enemy that is determined to steal all their magic, their house and their Relic. 
Now Chase must find a way to stop these evil beings, while at the same time figuring out what has happened to his dad, unraveling even more Tinker lies and secrets and not letting on that he has a huge crush on the housekeeper's daughter.

I've had this book on my review pile for a very long time and I kept meaning to get around to it, but somehow something kept popping up (sorry, Malia)! The other day I decided it was about time I finally read it and I must say, I really enjoyed it! I was also reading it on a stormy day, so it really set the atmosphere.


Chase Tinker and the House of Magic is about thirteen year old Chase who soon discovers that he has supernatural powers and he belongs to one of the most magical families in the world. Chase has been a trouble-maker since the disappearance of his dad a year or so ago. When his brother starts demonstrating powers as well, Chase and Andy, his little brother, are immediately over-whelmed. When their supposedly dead grandfather arrives at their house one day, informing them of the heritage, Chase and Andy can't believe how much has been kept from them! Sent for the summer to go live by their grandfather in his magical house, Chase and Andy learn more about their family history and how to control their powers. They also discover that there is a terrible enemy that is out to steal their family magic and destroy them. With danger lurking around every corner, Chase, Andy, their cousin Janie and the housekeeper's daughter, Persephone, will have to work their hardest to save their family's magic!

I must say, I really enjoyed Chase Tinker and the House of Magic! It was an action-packed, fast-paced, creative read which constantly had me hooked! I absolutely LOVED the idea behind it and I would love to visit the Tinker house and explore all the hundreds of magical rooms. If Malia writes a book on just the rooms in the house, I'll be first in line to buy it! I don't generally read books that contain too much magic but luckily this wasn't too dark. It was just such a fun, fantastic read and I had a marvellous time reading it!

I really liked the characters. They were all portrayed so realistically, and the dialogue between them was also portrayed the way kids would speak to each other. I felt so sorry for Chase and Andy, I can imagine how awful they must have felt with the disappearance of their dad.

Chase, our protagonist, really grew throughout the novel. In the beginning he was this troubled kid who was a mischief maker but throughout the book he really grew into his own. At first I thought he was quite grouchy and I couldn't really connect with him but I really grew to like him. He is fiercely loyal, brave and protective. He makes some bad decisions, but he deals with the consequences in a mature manner and I really loved him by the end of the book!

I really liked the secondary characters, as well. Andy was so cute and I loved his and Chase's relationship. They bickered frequently but there were times where they were in serious danger and you could see that they would die to protect the other.  

I loved Janie! She's Chase and Andy's cousin and she's so spunky and clever and I felt bad that they called her a know-it-all, because she's was just trying to help. I also love how she put people in their place and stood up for what she believes in. Oh, and I adore Maxwell, too! Maxwell being her pet ferret!

I liked Persephone as well and sometimes it seemed almost as if she was a big sister to Janie. I would like to learn more about her as sometimes I didn't feel like I got to know enough about her, but hopefully in th next few books! I'm also hoping that there will be a developing romance between her and Chase, as it's adorable watching Chase crush on her!

I really liked their grandfather and Mrs Periwinkle, too! They really grew on me.

The plot actually held quite a few unexpected twists. This is a book for younger readers so I was expecting a predictable plot, but I didn't find it predictable in the slightest! The ending really surprised me and it saddened me as well. A seriously shocking plot twist!

The writing was great too. There was some description but not an over-whelming amount and she didn't drag out things but kept the story set as a fast-pace and had me unable to press the button on my Kindle fast enough! I  did find one or two errors but that didn't deter me from enjoying the book! 

I really enjoyed Chase Tinker and the House of Magic, it was filled with mystery, magic and mayhem! I wish I had read it sooner! This is a fantastic book for people of various ages craving a magical adventure. A book that I'm sure everyone  will thoroughly adore! Chase Tinker and the House of Magic was well-written, creative, magical and it had me hooked the whole way through. A truly delightful read. I can't wait to read the next book in the series!


I give it: 4/5 CUPCAKES!

           

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Saturday, 5 April 2014

Stacking the Shelves #59: The Kyra-went-mad-requesting-and-buying-books-edition!


Stacking the Shelves

Hi guys! As you may have noticed that I haven't been blogging lately and I apologise for that but my computer has been going haywire and I can't really blog from my phone, but it is fixed now! YAY!

I have...quite a lot of books to showcase and I don't think I'm going to link them all up, you can see the titles so you can check it out on Goodreads. I know, I'm also ashamed of my laziness. 
 

ANYWAY. HERE IS MY LONG OVER DUE BOOK HAUL!

Books to Review:

I got two copies of This Star Won't Go Out, I was really excited to read it but when I was flicking through and Esther was talking about all the blood tests and her symptoms, it really upset me and I'm kind of a hypochondriac, so I started stressing about cancer. It's really stupid of me, but I just get really affected by that kind of stuff. So I will probably be choosing two winners for the giveaway I will be holding! :)

I'm really excited for Banished, as I've heard amazing things about it, as well as Horizon, as I loved the first book! Dandelion Clocks I read in one sitting and it was AMAZING, you can read my review here.

Books I Bought/Received:

To these books...

Yes, yes I do indeed love these books! I was on a book-buying ban and I haven't actually bought books in awhile. So I binge book bought. Typical.


Anywhoo, I am just SO EXCITED to read these!!! Especially The Dead and the Gone (second Life as We Knew It book by Susan Pfeffer. One of my all-time favourite books!) and Tiger Lily! I was supposed to be sent Tiger Lily to review last month but I never received it nor got an email about it so I didn't think I would've seen it in my post box anytime soon...so I bought it! And it was really cheap, so absolutely stoked as I've been wanting to read it FOREVER. Okay, well, not forever but since it came out.


Thank you to my friend Krisi for buying me Liesl & Po, Tiger Lily and Article 5 which I forgot to include -.-

Byeee! :D

More Pictures! You're welcome ;)
 


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Friday, 4 April 2014

Review - City of Glass - Cassandra Clare

City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments, #3)Title: City of Glass
Series: The Mortal Instrument #3
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publication: March 24th 2009, Margaret K. McElderry Books
Pages: 509  Pages, Paperback
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: Thanks to Pan Macmillan for sending me a copy of City of Glass in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 5/5 Cupcakes!
To save her mother's life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters - never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.
As Clary uncovers more about her family's past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he's willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City - whatever the cost?
Love is a mortal sin and the secrets of the past prove deadly as Clary and Jace face down Valentine in the third installment of the New York Timesbestselling series The Mortal Instruments.

This book was utterly amazing, it was the best of the Mortal Instruments that  I've read so far. It was flawlessly written. The characters were amazing once again and the romance was utterly gorgeous. I don't know why I've been putting off this book but I am so glad that I finally read it. It made me smile, it made me laugh, it made me tear up and  it made me fall in love with the characters all over again. This book was so insanely incredible, that once I had finished reading the last sentence on the page, I merely just sat there, smiling, whilst hugging the book to my chest. If you haven't yet read the City of Glass, you should, as soon as possible!

In the City of Glass, Clary's mom Jocelyn is still in a comatose state in the hospital. In order to save her mother's life, Clary needs to travel to The Glass City, otherwise known as Alicante in Idris, to try and find a warlock who will help Clary find the antidote to cure her mom. When Jace refuses to take her, as he knows about all the possible dangers there, Clary decides to find her own way in.

Despite Clary's worry about saving her mother, there are even more deadly issues she needs to think about. Her and Jace's father, Valentine, already has two of the Mortal Instruments and he just needs the third one, the Mirror, to complete his ruthless plan. The only way the Shadowhunters will be able to fight him, is if they join up with the Downworlders in a bid to save the entire Nephilim race, which Valentine so cruelly wants pure that he is willing to kill all of them in the process. But with the wariness between the two groups, it's looking like an impossible feat to get them to work side-by-side, but if they don't, the world as they know it will be destroyed.

I don't actually know what to say, all that I can say is that I utterly adored this book. It was magical, it was enchanting, it was heart-breaking yet simultaneously uplifting. There were so many fantastic twists, although some of them did seem quite predictable to me and I guessed them before they happened.

With Cassandra's books, I find they are quite hard to get into at times, I don't know if I'm the only one or not who finds that. However, there's a certain point in her books where the plot starts thickening, the pace picks up and before you know it you've read a handful of chapters. In the City of Glass, like the other books of hers that I've read, I wasn't completely grasped immediately but as I kept reading there was a certain point in the novel where I started devouring the words and I couldn't get enough.City of Glass was incredibly fast-paced and I flew through the pages. There was so much action and suspense and there were times where I couldn't catch my breath for all the astounding things that were happening.

Cassandra Clare is an author who obtains a raw natural talent for writing. Everything is so extremely vivid, I can see everything in my mind laid out before me. She brings the characters to life, she makes the places in the story feel like a place you've physically visited. She is a phenomenal writer. She creates these characters that are so real and so unique. This whole world she has created is magical and captivating.

The plot was impeccable. There were things that saddened me in this book, especially the one death of a certain character which was so unnecessary and so cruel. All the questions we've been asking since the first book are answered in this book. I, unfortunately, saw huge spoilers before I managed to read City of Glass, so there were some things I were expecting. But there were also surprises that I weren't expecting. I think it's incredible how Cassandra Clare has lain these little clues throughout the story. I only realised now how complicated the whole story is and how she's given us hints throughout the first three books that leads us to finally see the big picture which is quite surprising, although I did guess some of the stuff, even without the spoilers.

The characters all grew in this book, and you could see the clear change in them from the beginning of the series to now.

In the City of Glass you could see how vulnerable Jace felt and how that facade of not being phased by anything completely just fall away and reveal the lonely, doubtful boy inside. I love how Clary made him feel whole and I believe that the two of them will complete each other and wash away any of the doubt and the feelings of helplessness inside either one of them.

Although I really like Clary, she infuriated me in the City of Glass in the beginning. She was incredibly stubborn and often didn't think things through, but then again, if she didn't go ahead and make her own decisions, no one would have done anything about the mass of problems they were facing.
Clary really impressed me towards the end, and although she doesn't necessarily physically fight (she hasn't ever been trained, so I don't blame her) but she does other things which I find are awesome. I love how she also explains how she sees things from an artist's perspective and her power is awesome too. I could completely relate to the artistic elements of Clary's personality.

I love Simon. He has changed a lot since the first book and I miss the old Simon. The quiet, nerdy Simon. I also adore this Simon too though, I like how he is able to take any comments thrown at him now and come back with something equally witty. I love that even though he's physically changed he is still so sweet and has such a wonderful personality. He has a truly personality and I hope that he'll find a soulmate like Clary has found in Jace.

The supporting characters are fantastic, too. I love Isabelle, it was interesting seeing a more gentle, softer side to her. I also love that Alec has become more self-confident and that he isn't so afraid to accept who he is anymore. Magnus is utter perfection, I adore him. He's so fun and sarcastic and adds so much to the story.

It was interesting being introduced to the new characters and seeing the role they played in the story. Especially Sebastian, who I won't so anything about in case it spoils your reading but you'll be quite surprised.

The City of Glass is the third book in the highly-acclaimed Mortal Instruments series. Cassandra Clare has once again created a finely woven tale filled with stunning characters who will make you smile, who will make you cry and have your heart filling with love for them. She has concocted the perfect blend of a dark fantasy, mythical creatures, charismatic characters, a beautiful love story and an intense plot that will leave you shocked. Her writing is heavenly and she paints the pictures so clearly. All this merged together creates an unforgettable story about life, love and family and the depths a person will go to, and the new-found strength that they'll find inside themselves in order to overcome their inner demons in order to save the person they love. A magical, captivating story.

I give it: 5 CUPCAKES!
           

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Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Review - Dandelion Clocks - Rebecca Westcott

Dandelion ClocksTitle: Dandelion Clocks
Author: Rebecca Westcott
Genre: Middle-Grade, Contemporary
Publication: March 6th 2014, Puffin
Pages: 272 Pages
Source: Thank you to Penguin Publishers for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 5/5 CUPCAKES
Dandelion Clocks by Rebecca Westcott Smith will be loved by fans of Jacqueline Wilson, Cathy Cassidy or Annabel Pitcher. Liv takes us on a journey through her life from "Thirteen Weeks Before" to "Six Months After". We discover Liv's passion for photography, her brother's obsession with sticking to the rules, the stupidity of Moronic Louise at school, and how the family copes as Mum's terminal illness takes hold...Guided by Mum's own childhood diaries, Liv finds a new way to live. This book is real, funny, utterly touching and absolutely heartwarming. Despite the sadness at the heart of the story, every reader will laugh and keep on turning the pages, charmed by Liv and her mum. "A brilliantly told, ultra modern story about a significant six months in eleven year old Olivia's life - it should be sold with a large box of tissues!" (Jacqueline Wilson)

I'm not quite sure how I'm going to be capable of stringing together words that will form a coherent sentence, yet alone a coherent review. I'm still astounded by the sheer amount of emotions Dandelion Clocks bestowed unto me. This book will make you feel. I'm still amazed at how average, ordinary words formed into a certain sentence, can surmount to such a beautiful story that will have you feeling such varying amount of emotions; happiness, joyfulness, sadness, sorrow, anger and guilt. A story which deals with a daunting subject in such a sensitive, touching manner. A story that has you laughing at the characters' wit and crying the next because of the pain they must be experiencing, and the pain you feel as a reader, because you've fallen so in love with the  charismatic characters. It takes pure, genuine talent to create such a beautiful, heartfelt piece and Rebecca Westcott has done just that.

Dandelion Clocks is about eleven year old Liv. She has a dad who's a photographer, a fourteen year old brother with Aspergers Syndrome and a loving, fun mom. However, Liv's whole world seems to cave in when her mom is diagnosed with a terminal illness. As the illness takes hold, Liv has to learn to cook, put on make-up and set new rules for her brother, learn to navigate the unfamiliar territory of womanhood and the hardships of growing up. Guided by her mom's old journals from her teenage years and through her love for photography, Liv learns that although things will never be the same again, with the help of the journals and her new camera, things might just be okay in the end.

When I received an email from Penguin Publishers offering me a chance to review this book, I will at admit that I was (stupidly) hesitant. I tend to avoid books that deal with heavy subjects such as death, at all costs. However, when I saw the infinitesimal amount of fantastic reviews, I decided to take the plunge...choosing to read this book was one of the best book-related decisions that I've ever made.

Dandelion Clocks was beautiful. Everything about this book is brilliant. The characters are so funny and lovable, the story so heart-breakingly honest, yet simultaneously uplifting and the writing so pure and stunningly crafted, it won't cross your mind to put the book down. I seldom read a book in one sitting, but Dandelion Clocks was so lovely and so brilliant I didn't want to do anything else until I had finished savoring every word.

The characters in this book are amazing. Liv's voice resonates strongly through the story! The characters all had their own quirks and individual personalities and each of them play an important part in the story. I loved them all so much and I couldn't possibly choose a favourite.

I love Liv. She's so strong and courageous and I really admire how she coped with such a terrible situation. Of course she still cried, she felt angry, at herself and at her mother, even though she knew it wasn't her mom's fault. She learnt to live again and even though she couldn't always make sense of it all and it shattered her, she went on living, went on (eventually) laughing, went on trying to stitch her broken heart back together as much as possible. Liv is a truly courageous girl and someone we should all look up to. The author wrote her in an honest light and I appreciate that she let Liv ask questions that anyone grieving would ask, Rebecca didn't shy away from tackling some difficult questions.

I love Liv's mom, she was so funny and kind and it broke my heart to see her get sick as she was a truly amazing woman. Her and Liv shared such a steadfast, wonderful bond and it brought tears to my eyes as I could see how Liv loved her mom and I didn't even want to think about Liv not having her mom around anymore.

I love Liv's dad, her brother, Isaac and her best friend, Alice. Isaac is fourteen and had Aspergers Syndrome and lives life by the rules that help him understand things. I was terrified for him when Rachel got sick as his routine and everyone's hard work in helping him with the rules unravelled as things started changing. However,  he pulled through and I was so happy for him. Liv is such a fantastic sister to him. She helps him a lot but gets frustrated with him sometime. Their sibling relationship is also portrayed in an honest, realistic light. I love Isaac though, I love how he is so literal and I love his sense of humour.

Liv's dad is fantastic, I admire his strength and how he helps Liv and Isaac through the grief that mirrors his own.

I love Liv and Alice's friendship. Alice is such a good friend to Liv and so understanding. In Dandelion Clocks, friendship is a strong feature.

The story in itself was wonderful, especially as I could kind of relate to it. When I was 7, my mom was diagnosed with M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) also called CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). There are times, especially during her bad relapses, that she can't get up for months at a time and it has been really bad in the past where she was almost hospitalised. When I was reading this book, I completely understood how Liv was feeling as at times I'd felt like that in the past. The anger, the guilt, the helplessness and how you wish for the days when everyone was happy and healthy. This book really hit close to home and I think reading this book will help both my mom and I. After reading this book, I realised just how lucky I am that my mom's illness isn't terminal and to anyone reading it, it will really put things into perspective.

The writing in this book is so touching, so personal, so utterly heart-warming. I absolutely loved reading the parts that were snippets from Liv's mom's tween/teen journals, they often had me chuckling and Liv's reaction to the things her mom wrote about was absolutely priceless! I really was laughing out loud during a lot of parts in this book, I laughed more than I thought I would.  I love how Rebecca managed to make this a light-hearted, amusing read and still have me chortling even though the she was writing about a difficult subject.


Although the writing made me laugh, it also made me cry. I'm not talking about a mere tear trickling down my cheek, I'm talking about a constant stream of tears. Tears and snot and a blotchy face. Do not read this book in public because I can assure you that you will be a sobbing, disheveled mess.  The days leading up to her mom's death and the days after made me sob the hardest. Knowing that Liv wouldn't have her mom by her side and when reflecting back on the moments they shared, having such an amazing mother/daughter bond, one that should never be broken, reduced me to a blubbering mess. Those scenes were just written so beautifully and will make you fling your arms around your mom/guardian and just be so thankful that you have her in your life. Writing this review is causing tears to form again, so I'll round off now.

Dandelion Clocks has to be one of the best books I've read this year. It deals with a highly sensitive subject in such a gentle, loving manner. I was expecting it to be quite depressing but it was the furthest thing from it. It was warm, touching, funny and a genuine, moving novel that sends out a message of hope and encouragement. This book made me laugh at the witty talk between the characters, the things Isaac would do, Liv's mom's diaries and so many other things that made me laugh and warm inside. I also cried, I sobbed, I had to put down the book for a minute to wipe away the tears obscuring my view of the pages.

Dandelion Clocks is a must-read for all people from the ages of 10 onwards. It's a fantastic, heartfelt book for anyone dealing with grief, knows someone dealing with grief or even someone who just wants to read a beautiful story.

Dandelion Clocks is an astoundingly brilliant gem of a story. One that will teach you about the important things in life and how, when your world has caved in, to not give up but keep on living, loving and laughing. An inspiring, unmissable read.

I give it: 5 Cupcakes!

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