The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club (The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club #1)

The Polar Bear Explorers' Club

How did I get it?:
I received a copy from Faber and I’ve purchased a copy!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

It sounded like a respectable and worthy enough death for an explorer – tumbling from an ice bridge to be impaled upon a mammoth tusk – but Stella really, really didn’t want that to happen, just the same.

Join Stella Starflake Pearl and her three fellow explorers as they trek across the snowy Icelands and come face-to-face with frost fairies, snow queens, outlaw hideouts, unicorns, pygmy dinosaurs and carnivorous cabbages . . .

When Stella and three other junior explorers get separated from their expedition can they cross the frozen wilderness and live to tell the tale?

Thoughts:

I have loved Alex Bell’s adult and YA books. Seriously, if you haven’t checked out The Ninth Circle and Jasmyn please give them a go. They’re amazing and so underrated, in my opinion. I was super excited to pick up The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club. It’s such an exciting story that I believe will pull children in and keep them engaged throughout the story.

Its plot is fast paced and so easy to read. The reader follows a group of young explorers on a quest to find the coldest part of the Icelands as they are separated from their parents. It’s such a fun read. I couldn’t help turning the pages. I practically binge read this book, completely captivated by the story.

The main characters Stella, Shay, Beanie and Ethan were so well written. I immediately liked them, especially Stella. What a wonderful protagonist! I loved how she was such a strong female character. We need more of those in middle grade literature. I also appreciated how she was allowed to go on the adventure after it being notoriously males only. Her relationship with Felix (who she saw as a father) was heart-warming. I absolutely adored the character of Beanie. Such a sweet character that took everything literally. It reminded me of a few children that I teach!

Talking about teaching, I think this book would be perfect for Key Stage 2 children. There’s so much to get stuck into. I loved how descriptive the story was. This book really is jam packed with content. It’s both fairy tale-esque and adventurous. There are penguins, pygmy dinosaurs, cabbages…and more. I think Alex Bell has created such a wonderful world that I can see developing well as a the series continues (I assume it’s a series!)

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A gorgeous middle grade adventure!

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Coraline (Graphic Novel Review)

Coraline (Illustrated/Graphic Novel Edition)

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

When Coraline steps through a door in her family’s new house, she finds another house, strangely similar to her own (only better). At first, things seem marvelous. The food is better than at home, and the toy box is filled with fluttering wind-up angels and dinosaur skulls that crawl and rattle their teeth.

But there’s another mother there and another father, and they want her to stay and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go. Coraline will have to fight with all her wit and all the tools she can find if she is to save herself and return to her ordinary life.

Thoughts:

Perhaps I’m not the best person to review this graphic novel or the original book. I haven’t seen the movie yet either. But do you know what? Based on this graphic novel, I’m going to read the original and watch the movie. I liked the graphic novel that much!

It centres around Coraline who steps through a door in her family’s house to find another house which is incredibly similar to hers… only slightly better. Every single thing seems better in the other house. The toys, the food… Coraline thinks she’s got it good! There’s another mother and another father there though. They look like her actual parents, but they aren’t. They want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They’re determined to change her, but Coraline is fighting back. She wants to be with her true family and return to her normal life.

I enjoyed the illustrations from P. Craig Russell. I thought it was beautifully drawn. The other mother in particular really freaked me out. She really was an unforgettable character. I can still see those black button eyes when I close my eyes!

I thought this graphic novel was super creepy. I hear that the original is too, so I’m excited to read that as soon as I can fit it in.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

I thoroughly enjoyed this graphic novel and will be checking out the original for sure!

Heartless

Heartless

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

Thoughts:

I am a big fan of the Lunar Chronicles series, so I was super excited when I heard that Marissa Meyer was bringing out a book that centred around Alice In Wonderland. I love a reimagining. Then reviews started to come out and I was feeling a little anxious about reading it! They were so mixed. So, I stepped back from the hype for a while and decided to read it when the hype died down.

Heartless is inspired by the Queen of Hearts made famous by Lewis Carroll in Alice in Wonderland. It centres around Catherine, who is the daughter of a Marquess. She is expected to marry well and live the life of a lady. Catherine is a dreamer and wants to own a bakery and create delicious recipes for the people of Hearts. Catherine has been dreaming about a man and finds herself meeting him… he’s the new court Joker, Jest. Catherine is completely drawn to him even though he’s not what her family want more for her. Catherine is being courted by the King. He wants to marry her. Her family don’t give Catherine a choice. She must marry the king or lose her place in the family.

I liked so many things about this book, especially the characters. I really enjoyed Catherine as a character and loved that she wanted to do her own thing. I also loved reading the descriptions about the yummy goodness that she was baking. I adored her friendship with her maid Mary Ann and I was rooting for them to open their bakery together. I also really liked the character of Jest. I thought he was fabulous, although I didn’t really get on board with their romance. It was a little too instalove for my liking. I thought Cheshire was amazing too. The setting was fantastic and I could picture it easily in my mind.

I do think that this book suffered from being a little slow paced. I wanted a bit more action, much like the Lunar Chronicles. It being a standalone, I expected it to be incredibly action packed but it wasn’t. I was disappointed by the instalove too. Cath and Jest instantly connected and were infatuated and I couldn’t really understand why!

I’m glad that I gave this book a go! It didn’t blow me away but it was still a decent read.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

This book is a good example of why you shouldn’t let mixed review sway you!

Blog Tour- Illusionary Review

Illusionary Blog Tour Banner

I am thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Illusionary by Desiree Williams.

Illusionary

How did I get it?:
I received a copy from the author for the blog tour.

Synopsis:

Dorothy got sucked into a tornado.
Alice fell down a hole.
Wendy flew to Neverland.
Kamryn? She tripped down the stairs.
Now, Kamryn Kensington finds herself in a strange new world. Within minutes of her arrival, she dodges an archer’s arrow and avoids getting sliced up by a cosplay reject holding a dagger to her throat. And that’s before the storyteller’s breath brings stories to life.
Home is the mission—to return to her family and pursue her life’s dream of art and travel. Yet the longer she’s in the Land of Ur, the harder it is not to feel for the people she meets. Even her artistic side can’t help but breathe in the beautiful wonder and magic of this new world. So when the Oracle hands her a different quest, she takes it on the condition he sends her home afterward.
No one thought to warn her of a jealous queen and her dragon minions. Or that, by helping her, the cute storyteller would go crazy. Or that her heart would rip in two when she left. Those would’ve been great facts to know ahead of time.
Considering that nothing in Ur is what it seems, the mission proves to be more than she ever imagined. But more than her own future will be in jeopardy if Kamryn doesn’t succeed.
  

Thoughts:

I was asked if I’d be interesting in joining the blog tour for this book. As soon as I read the synopsis, I knew that I wanted to read this book. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that I absolutely adore fairy tales and all things magical realism. Illusionary certainly fits that bill.

Kamryn is our main character. She’s an adult, but she’s struggling with adapting to all things adult. Don’t we all? Kamryn’s dreams are taking her in different directions which makes her older sister despair. Her older sister wants the best for Kamryn but Kamryn wants to pursue her passion. Kamryn and her sister fight resulting in Kamryn tripping and finding herself at the bottom of the stairs. When Kamryn comes around, she’s in the land of Ur. She has some questions to ask but answers are not given. She is given a mission to carry out with Reese, a storyteller in Ur. They’re hoping to rescue the Maker of Ur so he can send her home. Of course, it’s not as easy as Kamryn wants and they end up everywhere…

I enjoyed reading this story, which didn’t take long for me to read! I was intrigued by the adventure. I really enjoyed reading the nods to other famous books e.g. The Wizard Of Oz. It’s a bookworm’s dream to read such a bookish story. I also enjoyed the romance in this story. It wasn’t cheesy or overdone. It was just right.

The only reason I didn’t rate this book any higher was because I didn’t enjoy the character of the evil queen as much as I wanted to. I would have enjoyed it more if the character was more fleshed out, but that’s my personal opinion and I think many people would still enjoy the character!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Desiree is kindly offering a giveaway for this blog tour. email): a “Make everyday an adventure” pillow, “Don’t Grow Up! It’s a Trap!” metal sign, book cozy, signed paperback of Illusionary, notebook with pens, sketch book with colored pencils, and a “Eat Cake for Breakfast” travel cup. 

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As I Descended

As I Descended

How did I get it?:
It was a gift!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Lies We Tell Ourselves
What We Left Behind

Synopsis:

Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them.

Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey.

Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word.

But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily.

Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school.

But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line.

Thoughts:

I absolutely loved Robin Talley’s debut novel, but was a little disappointed by her second release. However, the synopsis of this book had me easily gripped and I knew I had to read it. I also really enjoy retellings and I was intrigued by the modern take on Macbeth.

As I Descended takes place at a boarding school. Our main characters use a Ouija board and that is the catalyst to the madness…Although this story is told from multiple points of view, Maria is the main focus of this story. She is determined to take down Delilah, who is the front runner for the Kingsley Prize, a scholarship for college. It will give her more time with Lily, her girlfriend. Maria and Lily work hard to make sure Maria gets that prize, no matter what it takes. The story definitely takes a turn for the worse when creepy things begin to happen….

I really enjoy Robin Talley’s writing style, she created such a wonderfully chilling atmosphere, I just had to keep turning the pages. I absolutely loved the diversity in the characters. As a reader, you can find LGBT characters and also a character with a physical disability.

If you don’t know much about Macbeth then it really doesn’t matter. I know the plot of Macbeth, but I’ve never read it and it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

I was pleasantly surprised by this book! It’s not quite Lies We Tell Ourselves, but it’s a creepy, intriguing read!

Bone Gap

Bone Gap

How did I get it?:
A copy was sent to me by Faber in exchange for an honest review!

Synopsis:

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?

Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.

As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.

Thoughts:

I had heard so much about Bone Gap so when I was given the opportunity to read it recently, I jumped at the chance. I absolutely love magical realism and this book is perfect for that. Laura Ruby is a phenomenal writer. Bone Gap is beautifully written and really should be read.

The premise is interesting. It centres around a woman named Roza who is taken away by a rich and powerful man. He falls in love with her and takes her into a world where everything she needs is available to her. All the man wants is for her to fall in love with him. However, she really doesn’t feel the same way. When Roza goes missing from Bone Gap, her friend Finn is determined to find her. He believes that she wouldn’t go anywhere without her consent and he feels very suspicious about it all since he witnessed Roza disappearing with the man. However, no-one really believes Finn as he is known for being a little bit odd and dreamy. (There’s a reason why, but I don’t want to ruin it!) Finn is incredibly troubled by her disappearance, especially because he seems to be the only one that’s looking for her. He is surprised that his brother Sean, who he thought loved Roza is not searching for her.

Bone Gap is told from mainly Finn’s point of view, but we also read from Roza’s point of view and experience the world in which she is in. Both perspectives are fascinating and really add something unique to the narration. Another character that we hear from is Petey- Finn’s strange bee obsessed love interest. The story really focuses around Roza’s experience in Bone Gap and how her disappearance made an impact on the inhabitants of Bone Gap.

It’s so hard to review this book because I don’t want to spoil the story, it’s really one you’ve got to get into to enjoy and experience the vivid world as you turn the pages. It really is quite fairy tale-esque which of course is what I LOVE in a story.

There are such intriguing characters in this story. I really enjoyed the connection between Finn and Petey. Both Petey and Roza are such strong female characters and really make you think about the world which places such an emphasis on outer beauty. Both characters have been affected by the perception of beauty and I love the way Laura Ruby explores this in Bone Gap. 

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Bone Gap is a book about perception. It’s fairy tale-eque and SO beautifully written!

The Edge of Everything

The Edge of Everything

How did I get it?:
Netgalley- thanks to Bloomsbury!

Synopsis:

It’s been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who’s still reeling from her father’s shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neighbors’ mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying sub-zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods—only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.

X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe’s evil attacker and others like him. X is forbidden from revealing himself to anyone other than his prey, but he casts aside the Lowlands’ rules for Zoe. As they learn more about their colliding worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future.

Thoughts:

You might look at this book and think it’s going to be a contemporary YA novel, but it really isn’t. The Edge Of Everything is an action-packed YA fantasy read.  It has a lot of darker moments which you don’t anticipate with such a light and fresh book cover. It definitely captured my attention and kept me turning the pages.

The Edge of Everything is about Zoe and X who are desperate to be with one another. However, X is different from normal guys. He comes from the Lowlands and his job is to collect criminal’s souls who have been unpunished. X was totally okay with doing his job until he met Zoe and fell in love with her. The two really shouldn’t be together and there are so many obstacles and repercussions in the way. I thought this book had such a unique plot, it certainly engrossed me right from the get go.

I really enjoyed Zoe as a character and her relationship with her brother Jonah was adorable. I loved that Zoe was quite the strong female lead. She would give everything a go and not rely on the male characters which is always a bonus in my eyes. I loved so many characters in this story. The reader does get to see the characters develop so much throughout the course of the story. The relationship between Zoe and X does happen rather quickly, but I could see past that.

I can imagine that so many people will enjoy The Edge of Everything. Its plot is different to anything I’ve recently read in the YA genre.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

This book is well worth reading despite the instalove!