Monday, 30 May 2016

The Hawkweed Prophecy was a bewitching read

The Hawkweed ProphecyTitle: The Hawkweed Prophecy
Series: N/A
Author: Irena Brignull
Genre: Young Adult, Middle-Grade, Fantasy
Publication: June 16 2016, Orchard Books
Pages: 304 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to Lovereading4Kids and Orchard Books for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 4/5 cupcakes
The babies were born as the clock struck twelve. A bat fell from the air mid-flight. A silver salmon floated dead to the surface of the river. Snails withered in their shells, moths turned to dust on the night breeze and an owl ate its young. The spell had been cast.
Poppy Hooper has managed to deceive her father into believing that there is nothing mysterious or unnatural about her. He ignores the cats that find her wherever she goes, the spiders that weave beautiful lacy patterns for her, even her eyes - one blue, one green with an extra black dot orbiting the pupil.
Ember Hawkweed is a pitiful excuse for a witch. When the other girls in her coven brew vile potions, Ember makes soap and perfume. Fair and pretty, Ember is more like a chaff than a witch. One of the Hawkweeds will be queen of the witches - but everyone knows it won't be Ember.
When the two girls meet, Poppy discovers her powers, and finds out the truth. Bound by their unlikely friendship and the boy they both love, the girls try and find their place in the world. But the time of the prophecy draws nearer - and the witches won't give up the throne without a fight.


When I was offered the chance to review The Hawkweed Prophecy I was ecstatic! I absolutely adore switched at birth/changeling books so I couldn't wait to delve into this novel and it was every bit as magical and heartwarming as I hoped it would be!

The Hawkweed Prophecy had me enraptured from the first page with its delectable writing. The magical story was brought to life by the scrumptious words strung together and it had that classical fairy tale atmosphere that danced amidst the pages and made falling in love with this book a natural thing to do. 

I also became extremely attached to the characters in this book, who were real and brutally honest in detailing the truth of the difficulties of growing up, saying goodbye and trying to belong in this off-kilter world. This is a fantasy book, splashed with spells, potions and cauldrons but it also held a depth to it that shows through the layer of magical calamities. Sprinkled amidst the cauldrons and spell books was an emotional story about three misfit teenagers, outsiders, struggling to find their place in the world. It was about the savior of a friendship, the ache of an impossible love, the arduous battle of finding a place in this jigsaw world and how envy and selfishness makes monsters of us all. I loved how Poppy, Ember and Leo weren't easily accepted by society, like I'm sure a lot of people (myself included) have and it was just so reassuring and comforting to read about characters who feel like they're an unnecessary piece to a puzzle that's already complete. It's a novel that exhales hope - giving the reader reassurance that they too will one day belong, one day find happiness, one day accept themselves and one day come to the realisation that that's more important than any form of acceptance from others.

As I said, I loved the characters. I loved the contrast between Ember and Poppy and their unique personalities. Ember was such a lovely, gentle character and it was refreshing to read about a character that was timid and shy and not fierce and confident like most heroines. I really felt for Ember as she wasn't able to do spells or potions and would rather sit by the river perfecting making soap then make things to cause boils to appear on your face, hence being shunned by the other witches.

Then there's Poppy, the girl with the electrifying mismatched eyes and the ability to cause a fire to ravage a house and a storm to pummel the faces of the cliffs. Coiled among this thrumming power she holds within are a plethora of doubts, insecurities and confusion. I felt so sorry for Poppy as she was shunned by her mother who knew that Poppy wasn't her child and had a father whose eyes reflected back the disappointment and fear that she felt. Poppy felt like an outcast in the human world and at times in the witch world too but it was incredibly uplifting when she found the courage to accept herself and the realisation that her self-acceptance was sufficient. 

Then there was Leo, the boy with the scars and a painful story to tell, the boy who sleeps on the streets and a boy who knows all too well the relentless knocks of life. I really liked Leo, I liked his kindness and his selflessness but I would've liked it if I was giving more of an insight into his thoughts and feelings as well as Poppy's and Ember's as I didn't feel like I knew them as well as I could have?

I loved the friendship between Ember and Poppy, it's always wonderful seeing positive, strong female friendships so I really enjoyed that aspect. However, there were a few times where Poppy seemed to value Leo more than Ember and I didn't really like that because I don't believe a boy should be more important than your best friend.

I also liked the relationship between Ember and Charlock (her mom) . There's rarely positive parent/children relationships in books so I was very pleased that Ember and Charlock had such a fantastic mother/daughter relationship.

I'm not sure how I feel about the romance in this book as there is a love triangle and I do think it was an unnecessary one as I personally think it's undeniable that Poppy and Leo were meant to be together - they had chemistry and their relationship had substance. I never really felt or understood the reasoning for the Ember/Leo ship and I'm still undecided on how I feel about the ending.

I enjoyed the plot of the story as well however I would've liked it if the conclusion of the girls' identities was reached earlier on in the book so the reader could see how Poppy and Ember adjust to their new roles as the ending felt slightly too rushed. However, this didn't reduce my enjoyment of The Hawkweed Prophecy in the slightest.

The Hawkweed Prophecy was a bewitching read - one that charmed me with its delectable writing, beautifully flawed characters, magical story line and its raw depiction of the struggle to be accepted and the courage it takes to accept oneself when the world doesn't. It left me spellbound and I guarantee it will cast its spell on you too.

I give it: 4/5 Cupcakes!





*Quotes taken from ARC so subject to change*
"The boy was looking at her like he wanted her to read something in his eyes, but Poppy tried and found herself illiterate."
"'We might not look it but we are the same.' She tapped her heart. 'In here.'" 
"'I'm scared of anyone with hate in their heart.'" 
"She turned the clock within his hands and bent her head head towards him to show the opening at the back. Trapped inside were the tiny metal wheels suspended there like fallen, silver stars."


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Saturday, 28 May 2016

Stacking the Shelves #90 - Library time!

I know I shouldn't have but I'm on holiday and I have all the time in the world to read (YAY, I LOVE HOLIDAYS) but when I saw all these books there that I wanted to read I took the opportunity and got ithem out and I'm so excited to read them! ALSO, it was quite funny as there were loads of books stacked on the shelf and I took one off and all these books collapsed on top of me and the librarian just stares at me and then this other librarian comes out of the staff area and she's like “Did you get attacked by the books?” and I was like “Yep” and IT WAS FUNNIER THAN IT SOUNDS OKAY.
So here are the books I got and I'm so excited to read them! I'm currently reading Unrivalled by Alyson Noel and I'm only a few chapters in but I think it's going to be quite an intriguing read. I'm also expecting a few books in the mail in upcoming weeks and I'm super excited to show them to you guys!

Anyway, here are the books I got at the library. Please help me decide which one to read next?!

Library Books:
Violet Ink by Rebecca Westcott | All that Glitters by Holly Smale | Insatiable by Meg CabotLove Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira | The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate

I'm super excited to read All That Glitters as I've been wanting to read it forever as well as Love Letters to the Dead. I read Rebecca Westcott's other novel Dandelion Clocks and I LOVED it so I'm really excited to if I enjoy her second novel. After looking Insatiable up on Goodreads, I realise it's an adult novel and I'm not quite sure I want to read it anymore as I'm not a fan of adult fiction but I'll see how it goes!

Those are the books I've received this week! Have you read any of them and did you enjoy them? Which book should I read first? If you posted a Stacking the Shelves, leave your link in the comment section!

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Thursday, 26 May 2016

My new bookish obsession


It all started in a bookstore, last year autumn as the dappled sunlight tenaciously tore through the clouds, highlighting the golden leaves that danced amidst the air crystallised with frost. Among the divine smell of dusty, leather-bound books, there wandered a young girl, with eyes sparkling as her fingers stroked the spines of the books she called her friends. Stopping in the classic section that smelt of history, love, indigo tears and golden smiles, a book that mirrored the colour of the sky outside, captured her attention. A cloth bound copy of Wuthering Heights by Charlotte Bronte, with a black etched picture of the moors and a desolate Cathy featuring on the cover. The girl was captivated and immediately swooped the copy into her arms and adopted it, placing it lovingly on her bookshelf and feeling a sensation of utter joy dance through her whenever she looked at it.


Ahem.

That girl was me (I apologise for the descriptive little short story piece there but creativity struck) and the copy of Wuthering Heights was the book which left me spellbound. It was the Reader's Digest, World's Best Reading edition, only £2 and I had fallen completely in love with it. I then went to the bookstore a few months later and I saw a whole crate of those editions and I fell in love yet again, floating on a cloud of paper and ink fantasies as I carried them against my heart and made place for them on my bookshelf. 


Ever since then I've been set on collecting these gorgeous editions, not only because I think they could rival the beauty of Sam Claflin, but because they're books that have been loved by a huge amount of previous generations and by reading them it's as if you're connected to those people somehow, who held the book and wept and laughed and had their lives miraculously altered by the fragment of heaven that had fallen into their hands. 


So far I have copies of Wuthering Heights by Charlotte Bronte, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain, The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas and The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham. I haven't read any of them yet, but once I have my review pile under control I'll open up the book and let the words speak to me and hopefully I'll fall in love with what they have to say.


Each book has its title in a gold coloured font (generally) on the spine, there are stunning watercolour or ink paintings hidden among the ivory pages and simple, yet beautiful covers! I absolutely love these books so much and I'm so happy I stumbled upon them. Now, I just have to make time to read my new friends!


Don't you agree that these editions are gorgeous? Do you like classics? Have you read any of these? What's your favourite classic? Do tell!

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Monday, 23 May 2016

I wanted to love Chasing the Stars by Malorie Blackman but 'twas not meant to be

Chasing the StarsTitle: Chasing the Stars
Author: Malorie Blackman
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Retelling
Publication: 21st April 2016, Penguin Random House
Pages: 496 Pages, Paperback 
Source: Thank you to Penguin Random House and LoveReading4Kids for sending me this to review! 
Rating: 3.5/5 CUPCAKES!
What happens when love brings loss? When love brings lies? When love brings hate?
Olivia and her twin brother Aidan are heading alone back to Earth following the virus that wiped out the rest of their crew, and their family, in its entirety. 
Nathan is part of a community heading in the opposite direction. But on their journey, Nathan’s ship is attacked and most of the community killed.Only a few survive.
Their lives unexpectedly collided, Nathan and Olivia are instantly attracted to each other, deeply, head-over-heels – like nothing they have ever experienced.
But not everyone is pleased. Surrounded by rumours, deception, even murder, is it possible to live out a happy ever after . . . ?


When I was sent Chasing the Stars to review I may have squealed in excitement. I've heard endless good things about Malorie Blackman's books so when I received this gorgeous book in the post that promised a loosely based retelling of Othello, with murder, mystery and intrigue in space I was incredibly excited to read it. However, there were quite a few things that prevented me from falling completely in love with this book.

The one thing that saved this book for me was the main character, Vee. If a book has excellent characters I can generally look past a lack of plot and substandard romance and this is an example of such. 

Vee is such an amazing character and I would love to be her best friend if she wasn't fictional. She was compassionate, she was brave and sassy, strong and determined. She made appropriate sacrifices for the people on her ship even if it meant it would shatter her heart. She was funny, relatable, worked hard and was extremely clever. I absolutely love it when books have female characters that are intelligent and are fascinated by science and technology as I still feel girls who are interested in maths and science aren't featured as frequently in literature. I also liked how Vee had a backbone and she stood up for what she believed in. She was a very admirable character and by the time I closed the book, I missed Vee because she was the one thing about Chasing the Stars that made me want to keep reading.

"No one said a word. 'Well, Aidan, break out the dictionary. We have a ship full of scintillating conversationalists,' said Vee with enough sarcasm to make me wince."  
"'Was I not wearing my poker face then?' 

'D'you have one?' asked Mike. I shook m y head.

'One of the things I forgot to bring on board with me.'” 
'How are you doing that?' I asked with genuine amazement.

'A soupcon of charm, a modicum of wit and a more than a splash of badassery.” 
"If I was going down, then these bastards would know they'd been in a fight.” 
I also really liked Vee's twin brother, Aidan - his and Vee's relationship was utterly adorable! I loved their fierce loyalty and protection of each other as well as how they shared (mostly) everything with each other. There was a scene towards the end of the book that may have made me cry because it was just so heartbreaking and sweet and it just emphasized the strength of their bond and...


I also really loved the fact that Chasing the Stars had short chapters as I flew through the book. There was a mystery that was interwoven through the plot and although I guessed who the culprit was early on, it definitely added a chilling atmosphere to the book and it was a book that I didn't want to put down once I'd started reading it.

Now, moving onto the things I wasn't too fond of.

My main problem with this book was the insta-love - probably one of the worst cases of it I've ever read about. As soon as Vee and Nathan lay eyes on each other they're attracted to each other and then a few chapters later they're confessing their love for each other. Not only that, but it frustrated me that the romance didn't improve as the book wore on. Quite a few times I've read a book that started with insta-love but the romance improves throughout the book, but Vee and Nathan's relationship just seemed like a train wreck from start to finish. Throughout the book there was lack of trust, lack of actually getting to know each other, lack of fun and connection between the two of them. The author stated several times that they got to know each other but I never saw any of that, there was never evidence that explicitly showed them sharing secrets, actually falling in love with something despite appearance - their whole relationship just felt so incredibly shallow and vague. Not only that, but their relationship mainly consisted of sex. They hardly spoke or got to know each other and Nathan was always wanting to sleep with Vee and it frustrated me to no end, because that's not love, it's lust. He didn't treat her with respect or as a person but as a sexual object and I was so happy when Vee turned him down at times because she saw that the foundation with which their fragile relationship was based on wasn't healthy.

not amused inappropriate tv no nope

Chasing the Stars is told from two alternating perspectives - Vee and Nathan. As you know, I adored Vee but Nathan had me wanting to slap him upside the head 95% of the book. I really liked him at first, he was sweet, funny, grateful for the life he had and a likable enough character but then as the book continued, I started to dislike him more and more until by the end of the book, I'm quite certain I had a bruise on my head from the multiple times I had smacked my hand against my forehead.


He was whiny, melodramatic and disrespectful. I mean, I understand that he had had a difficult past but we never really saw him live that life so I could never really feel the pain he had experienced. Another thing was, he only ever thought of himself and considered things from his point of view, never taking anyone else's feelings into consideration - he was a distasteful character. I also didn't enjoy his narrative and I found myself cringing at most of the things he said as they were just so awkward and an apparent attempt to be suave and relatable to young adults but it just fell flat for me. 
"I had a few questions of my own for her, starting with 'Why?' and closely followed by, 'Dafuq?'"
"'I want you,' said Nathan, indicating a certain part of his anatomy.'"
As I said previously, he treated Vee as if she was just something to give him sexual pleasure which really frustrated me and towards the end of the book, he emotionally abused Vee. There was a huge misunderstanding between them that obviously caused their already unstable relationship to fracture until it was irreparable, but if I was Vee I would've trusted my brother more too instead of a guy I barely knew and I really thought it was so immature and selfish of Nathan to treat Vee like he did. I mean, obviously I can understand why he was so upset but if Nathan truly loved Vee he would've spoken to her and worked through this colossal misunderstanding at an earlier stage. Nathan and the romance in this book really disappointed me and if those two points had been written better I would've loved this book much more. 
"'Tell me what I need to do to make things right between us,' Vee whispered.'What're you prepared to do?' I asked.'Anything it takes. I promise,' said Vee. 'I'll do whatever it takes to get us back to the way we were.' Her hand moved up to cup my face. I pulled away. Vee's hand fell to her side.'Prove it,' I demanded.'How?' 'Take off your clothes.' A stillness swept over Vee as she looked at me. 'Why?''Because I asked you to,' I replied evenly. 'You did say you'd do anything it takes to make things right.' Vee and I regarded each other, something ugly in the room with us. Vee raised her chin. 'I'm not about to let you hurt me, Nathan.' 'That wasn't my intention.''What is your intention then?' I shrugged. 'I'm horny. I thought we could spend some time in bed or against a wall or on the floor - I don't really care. And then you can leave.''You don't get to treat me like a whore, Nathan,' Vee said furiously.'Why not? You were quick enough to believe that I was one.'"
"'Do you need help taking your clothes off?' I asked evenly. Vee closed her eyes briefly. When she opened them again, they shone with unshed tears. 'I won't have sex with you, Nate, not like this.' 'So much for doing anything to make it right,' I said with contempt. 'Turns out that promise was as empty as all the others you made...'"
Another thing that I had a slight problem with was there were quite a few times in the book where something would happen and I was like, "Wait, what?". It was almost as if I had skipped a few pages as there were surprising things that happened but we were not show how the characters had gotten to that point or reached that conclusion. It was quite jarring at times. 


I also found the mystery extremely predictable and I couldn't believe that Vee and the others didn't piece the puzzle together soon. There was a lot of telling and not showing, which I'm also not a fan of.

Unfortunately, Chasing the Stars was a book I wanted to fall in love with. I wanted to be swept up into the rich retelling of Othello in space but the distasteful love interest and disappointing romance made my love for this book decrease as I danced through the pages. I adored the main character and I think she's a highly admirable character and she and her relationship with her brother was the only thing that made me keep reading. You might enjoy this though, but unfortunately I didn't love this book with the ferocity of an exploding star like I hoped I would.

I give it: 


"The best way to overcome a fear of death is to live and live well - and we will."
"No prospects, no future and worst of all, no hope. That's not living, that's just being alive." 
"You don't have to die to be in hell."
"I couldn't help feeling that the higher we climbed, the further we had to fall."
"Love is an act of courage." 
- Swearing
- Sex scenes

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Saturday, 21 May 2016

The “I've created another TBR mountain in the space of 2 months and help I've been crushed by all the books but it's totally worth it” Edition


HELLO! Happy Saturday! I hope you guys have all had a great week!

When I was scrolling through my blog posts to see when last I did a Stacking the Shelves I was flabbergasted (nice word that, flabbergasted) to see my last book haul was two months ago. I've kind of been buying a lot of books lately (we'll blame it on my exams, they're a good scapegoat) but I didn't realise how many until I took all my new books off the shelf and tried arranging them into something that was vaguely photogenic and aesthetically pleasing. I've accumulated 31 books in the past 2 months (good grief, a book buying ban is most certainly required) and I'm super excited to read all of them!


I purchased most of these books (Ebay and charity stores are the best!) for such a good price! I got the entire Sherlock collection for only £5 (!!!). I read snippets of the books online and I thought they sounded fantastic so I knew I had to read them. I also saw the most stunning editions of a few classics (pictured below) for only £2 each so I couldn't say no! I've been meaning to read more classics so I'll definitely be reading them shortly.

 




I was also lucky enough to be sent the complete Splintered series by A.G. Howard (thank you Abrams & Chronicle!) which I'm SO EXCITED to read. I also received Unrivalled by Alyson Noel and The Hawkweed Prophecy by Irena Brignull!


My best friend also bought me a copy of The Queen of Tearling by Erika Johansen which I've heard fantastic things about and my parents bought my a copy of Lady Midnight which I need to read as soon as I've read City of Heavenly Fire! 


I'm super excited to read ALL OF THESE!!! Which book should I read first? Have you read any of these? Did you enjoy them or not? Let me know! If you did a book haul post this week - leave the link in the comments so I can check it out!
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Friday, 20 May 2016

My exams (and blogging hiatus) are over ft. holiday TBR pile!

MY EXAMS ARE OVER!!!


Gosh, I've missed reading/blogging/the blogosphere SO MUCH. I'm so happy that my exams are finally over so I can be consumed by all things bookish once more!

I finished writing my final two exams yesterday (chemistry) and the moment I walked out of the room I felt like running around screaming HALLELUJAH accompanied by I CAN READ THINGS OTHER THAN MATHS AND CHEMISTRY NOTES AGAIN, but that may have scared the other candidates so I held off until I was in the car. My poor parentals.

I had a lovely time celebrating the ends of exams. My parents and I went to Bristol and I got some pretty clothes and lipbalms (I collect lipbalms/lipgloss/lipstick, it's one of my favorite things!) and we got Nandos and I came home and took my mountain of past papers and thew them into the bin (it was incredibly satisfying, as you can imagine) and I just basked in the feeling of having no more exams. Ahh. The whole day I've been like “OH GOSH I NEED TO STUDY” and then I'm like hahaha, no I don't. I'm on a break for a few weeks and then I start A levels, so that's kind of terrifying as I've heard they're very difficult. I will remain home-schooled but I'll be getting tutors and attending a center to do my physics practicals – it's so scary to think that I'm nearing the end of school and then it's onto uni and the adult world. WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE?!

I'm hoping to go book shopping or library-raiding tomorrow as that's always the best way to celebrate YAS. I should probably go on a book buying ban though as I've just taken photos of my recent book haul and I nearly got crushed by all the books in the process and my wallet is crying and my bookshelves are caving which is a strong inclination I shouldn't step inside a bookstore for a while.

ALSO, I'm learning French! I created an account on Duolingo last week (which is excellent and you should totally go check it out!) and started learning French, which was a refreshing change from staring at chemistry equations for 2 hours. I got inspired to learn another language when my parents and I started watching French movies a few weeks back. It's such a wonderful language and I really hope to be fluent in it one day.

SO, my holidays are going to consist of reading, blogging, writing, music and learning French and hopefully sun (please, England?!), and, as always, I have to compile a holiday TBR (even though I barely read books I've set myself to read, I find it so fun and I clearly like deluding myself to think that this time I will read all the books on my TBR pile) – here it is!:




I'm SO EXCITED to read all of these as they look amazing, especially City of Heavenly Fire, the Splintered series and More of Me!  

 Will I get through all of these in a few weeks? Hopefully but probably not because I am not the fastest reader *le sigh* but I shall try.


If you're writing exams when do you finish? What have I missed in the blogosphere? What do you plan on doing in your summer holidays? Which book should I read first?! LET ME KNOW! 
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