Freeks

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3.5 stars
Freeks – Amanda Hocking

{Mara has become used to the extraordinary. Roaming from place to place with Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Carnival, she longs for an ordinary life where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future.

She gets her chance when the struggling sideshow sets up camp in the small town of Caudry and she meets a gorgeous local guy named Gabe. But before long, Mara realizes there’s a dark presence lurking in the town that’s threatening the lives of her friends. She has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she had in order to save everyone she cares about—and change the future forever.}


 


*I received this book from Pan Macmillan Australia for an honest review and to participate in the blog tour..*.

If you know me at all then you know that anything to do with a Circus or a Carnival I am obsessed with so when I was contacted and asked if I wanted to review this book and I saw it was about a carnival I jumped at the opportunity!

Freaks is a young adult novel about a girl named Mara.
Her whole life she has traveled with a carnival and her ‘family’ are all considered freaks by outsiders but to her, they are the nicest people you will ever meet.
Through Mara’s eyes, we get taken on a journey that holds a lot of mysteries, a new town, cute boys, 80’s references and a bit of a paranormal twist.

This book was a lot of fun! It was a light-hearted story with a bit of a paranormal twist which I really enjoyed.
Mara was a really easy character to read from her point of view, within the first chapter or two I felt I already knew this girl and her relationship with the other members of the carnival was really nice to see.

I will say that this story has extreme insta-love which I am not the biggest fan of. I love stories where it takes a while for the characters to like each other, but with the setting and the way that Mara handled it, it was okay.

I liked all the characters but I felt that Gabe needed a little more. He was very mysterious but it was almost too much, I wanted to know more about him and I had so many questions but none of them got answered.
I really enjoyed the other carnival members like Luka, Hutch, and Roxie. I felt that these characters were really well developed and I grew to love them in a really short amount of time.

The setting is 1982 which was a nice change for a YA book. I enjoyed the small things that let you know what year it was, like the fashion, who was playing on the radio and the hair styles. It added a unique element to the story which was enjoyable.

Overall I really did enjoy this story, it was entertaining and fun.
If you are looking for a story that will get you excited for spring (or if you are already in hot weather like I am) this is the book for you!

 

(Where you can buy the book…) Dymocks (AU)BookDepositoryBarnes and Noble (US)

Happy reading!

Rachel xx

 

Interview – Sara Barnard

15991512_10154908244604469_612987866_oI recently got the privilege to read and review Sara Barnard’s new novel A Quiet Kind of Thunder and I also got the chance to ask Sara a few questions which was amazing! I hope you enjoy!

Q: What do you believe makes a good romance in a novel?
A: Believing in the characters and their relationship – I think if you manage that, everything else falls into place.

Q: Is there a certain motif that you have carried across both novels, or are they completely different in your eyes?
A: I think the idea that the person you see isn’t necessarily the whole reality is probably a common theme across both books, now I think about it… but I’m not sure about other motifs.

Q: You’ve mentioned you do all your ‘best writing on trains’. Why do you believe that is?
A: Because on the train I don’t have the internet 😉

 

Make sure you check out Sara’s new book and you can also see my thoughts on it here (Review)

Where you can buy A Quiet Kind of Thunder… BookDepositoryDymocks (AU) 

Happy reading!
Rachel xx

A Quiet Kind of Thunder

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4 stars
‘A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard’ 

{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.

From the bestselling author of Beautiful Broken Things comes a love story about the times when a whisper is as good as a shout.}



 

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard is a contemporary young adult novel that follows a girl who has been mute since she was five.

Steffi is at a new school without her best friend and she has two years to try and prove to her family and her therapist that she can speak when she needs to so she can go to university. But it is a lot harder than she thought it was going to be…
When a new student arrives who can’t hear a thing and relies on Steffi more than she wants will it close her off to the world or will Rhys help her see that the world isn’t so scary?

I enjoyed every minute of my time with Steffi and Rhys!
I thought this story touched on things that we don’t hear about often enough within the YA community and it brought a new understanding to those who have troubles with communicating.

The writing was beautiful and Sara was able to capture all the different relationships that Steffi had, from her split parents and her amazing best friend Tam to her relationship with Rhys. It was all so real and relatable that I felt a deeper connection with Steffi because of it.

Steffi, I struggled with connecting with at the start of the book because I myself don’t have massive issues with communicating with others and strangers but once I really got to know her and saw her grow in such a short time I came to love her. I honestly thought I could see myself becoming good friends with Steffi. I loved the little ways that she started to change her own world. She was strong and independent which she didn’t realise until halfway through and when she finally did I wanted to jump up and down with joy for her. She knew what she wanted and so she went and got it!
Also, I found myself connecting more with Steffi in the parts when she was dealing with Panic attacks. From someone who deals with them also Sara wrote everything that someone feels throughout a panic attack perfectly! I seriously was considering making my family read those parts so they understood what goes on in your mind!
From experience, I know just how hard it is to write about anxiety and panic attacks but Sara did it perfectly!
Also, the way that would help Steffi’s recover I thought it will be the typical ‘boy saved me’ storyline but it so wasn’t!
Steffi knows that though Rhy is a wonderful impact on her life that is not the reason she wants to get better. She knows that it will be up to her to do so and Rhys becomes someone who she can go to for support but he isn’t her only reason to feel better and I loved that!

Rhys was wonderful! He was so understanding and patient and just seemed like a really good guy. The one thing I really loved about this story was that it wasn’t one of those ‘and then I saw him and oh my goodness he was beautiful and I fell for him straight away’ it was so natural. There were no physical standouts with Rhys when we first saw him and it did take a while for Steffi to actually want to talk to him let alone anything else but even with that from the first moment we read about him I knew he was someone I was about to fall in love with and I was not wrong!
I find it rather refreshing that two characters become friends first and then romance starts to blossom.
Steffi and Rhys had a wonderful connection and not just because they had their own way of communication but because they really knew each other. They enjoyed each others company and not just because they thought the other was cute. Also, their love seemed more real than most YA books I read about. I think that comes down to the way they fell in love (They were friends first) and how Sara really made it feel natural. It was easy to believe that they really were made for each other.

Tam, Steffi’s best friend was a massive standout character for me. I feel like she wasn’t in the story enough and I really wanted to read more about her! She also was made out to be a bit of a dumb and flirty friend which I don’t think was her at all. For someone to stand by Steffi her whole life and to help her out she deserved much more praise than what she got! I think her struggle with uni and boys Steffi just brushed under the rug because she had her own problems but really she should have noticed the struggles she was going through and she should have helped her. I enjoyed all the moments with Tam and thought she showed just how much Steffi needed people in her life helping her and be good to her.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder was a brilliant light-hearted contemporary book. It had me feeling all giddy and happy, it touched on subjects that I believe are really important and need to be talked about more often and it also showed great character development and relationships.
I would highly recommend this to anyone who loves a lighthearted feel good story and wants a book that you can read in a day because you won’t want to put it down!

Sara Barnard has done a fantastic job and I can’t wait to read more of her books in the future!

Happy reading!
Rachel xx

Caraval

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5 stars 
‘Caraval by Stephanie Garber’

{Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic 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.}



Words can’t describe how much I enjoyed Caraval!

Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or a performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world . . .

There is one thing you should know about me before I start with my review and that is that I am slightly obsessed with anything to do with the circus, magic, and carnivals so when I got asked if I would want to read this book I didn’t really have to think too hard about it because it was right up my alley with what I love to read. 

Though saying that I never expected it to be as good as it was.
This book was incredible! All the hype that is already surrounding this book is completely necessary because this book is exceptional!

We follow a girl named Scarlet who wants to save her sister and herself from a terrible life they have been forced to endure and when she was younger she was told about the wonderful magic of the Caraval by her grandmother. She is now older and has more sense to know that a simple few days can’t change your life but when a handsome sailor offers to take the two girls to the Caraval her whole life is flipped upside down.
Once her sister goes missing she has to join forces with the handsome but aggravating sailor and she now has to play the game to win.

With twist and turns throughout the whole story, you are constantly on the edge of your seat flipping each page wanted to know what happens next.

Stephanie was able to create a whole new world filled with magic and wonder. A world that seems so different and so mysterious but with her seemingly effortless descriptive writing you see this world so clearly in your mind.

The world building is my favorite part about this novel because every line that Stephanie wrote was beautiful and it perfectly captured the magic of the story but also the character development was incredible.
I found myself really enjoying watching as Scarlet discovered the Caraval and discovered herself along the way and don’t get me started on the romance *Swoon*

This story had me captivated from the first page! I could hardly put it down!

If you enjoy new and exciting worlds, magic, mystery (because honestly every time you think you know what is happening you are wrong!), romance and a thrilling adventure, you will LOVE this book!!!

It has defiantly made my ‘all time favourite’ list and I can’t wait for everyone to read it!!!

*Caraval comes out on the 30th of January*
Thank you Hachette Australia for sending me an ARC for my honest review!

Happy reading,
Rachel xx

Heartless

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5 stars
‘Heartless by Marissa Meyer’

{Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favourite 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}.



Where do I begin…

If you weren’t a fan of the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland you will be after reading Heartless.

Throughout this book, we follow the journey of a young girl by the name of Catherine. This girl is bubbly, brave, determined, a hopeless romantic and loves all things sweet. She is the original ‘girl next door’. Forget Alice, you will find yourself obsessed with another woman from the wonderful wacky world created in Lewis Carroll’s mind and it is all thanks to the incredibly talented Marissa Meyer.

Throughout this journey we meet characters who are familiar to us all and we are also introduced to new faces with whom we can’t help but fall hopelessly in love with.

Meyer’s ability to bring old characters back to life again in a new and exciting environment but still leave their personalities intact is a true talent. We meet the likes of the Mad Hatter who has always been my favourite and seeing him as a younger hatter brought a new depth to his character! Also how we see him change throughout this journey and especially those last couple of chapters is so amazing! We also see the cheeky Cheshire Cat who always has a way of showing up in the oddest of times. And meeting the White Rabbit once again always leaves you in a panic, for his pocket watch seems to always be ticking.

And her ability to bring to life new characters that you feel just as fond of within only a few chapters just goes to show what an incredible writer she is.
From Catherine’s parents to her lovely best friend Mary Ann you either love them or you love to hate them but let us talk about the character we all want to know about… The Court Joker!
Jest is wonderful and a perfect addition to wonderland. He is wacky and charismatic. His jokes and charm carry him throughout the pages of this book and just like Cath you can’t help but to fall head over heels in love with him!

When I first heard (Quite a while ago) that Marissa Meyer was bringing out a Red Queen retelling I kind of freak out. 1 because I was way too excited that she was bringing out a new book and I have alway been a fan of Alice in Wonderland and 2 because I was scared that I wouldn’t like it because we all know who the Red Queen is and we can (I’m guessing) all agree that she isn’t the nicest person… So when it finally came out and it arrived in my mailbox I found myself both thrilled and nervous.
I have been in a bit of a reading slump recently so it took me quite a while to read this novel and a part of me didn’t want to finish it because I knew how it was going to end but I can say that I enjoyed every page of this book!

Meyer is the Queen of retelling and she somehow was able to transport me straight into the world of wonderland again but this time I felt connected to it in a totally new way.

Catherine loves to bake and let me just tell you that people aren’t kidding when they tell you that you need to have something sweet with you while you read the first chapter. The descriptions of the baking and just the world around Cath is perfectly described. You feel as if you are in the room with her and you nostrils fill with an aroma that seems to drift from the pages. It’s magical!
I loved Cathrine and though at times I wanted to yell at her because she makes quite a few mistakes I was still praying that somehow Marissa had decided to change the ending for the ‘Red Queen’. But saying that it was so organically written that as I followed this young girl thought trials, love, tragedy and heartbreak it all made sense…

Within 450 pages I watch a young, happy girl turn into a heartless Queen.

“His voice shredded. His eyes burned, ‘I haven’t the slightest idea, your Queenness. I find that I simply cannot recall why a raven is like a writing desk.”

I cannot recommend this novel enough! If you are a fan of retellings, Alice in Wonderland, or just a good romance that has wonderful character development in it then go and pick up Heartless straight away!

Happy reading,
Rachel xx

Made You Up

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4 stars.
‘Made You Up by Francesca Zappia’

{Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn’t she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.}

I got sent this book by the wonderful team at Harper Collins (Thank you!)
I didn’t know anything about this book going in and I just started to read it because I thought I may as well get started on it because I need to review it… well twenty minutes later I just knew that I wasn’t putting this book down anytime soon! I stayed up until 3am reading this book because I was so addicted…

The story follows a girl named Alex who suffers with schizophrenia.
Alex fights a daily battle of figuring out what is real and what isn’t. When she meets Miles and moves to a new school everything changes. Making new friends and making new enemies while a big mystery is happening at her new school means Alex will need to  control her own mind from running away from herself.  
Not only is this story entertaining and addictive but it is so beautifully written that you won’t be able to put it down. 
Francesca Zappia has done an incredible job at creating characters that teach you things and that seem so real. I can picture Alex and Miles walking down the street, they are real people with real life struggles. 

Alex is such a unique character. Zappia takes the mould of a normal YA main character and completely squishes it. It was wonderful! 
You will never read a more confusing and unreliable but loveable character! Alex will have you questioning every part of this story and you can’t help but love her for it. She is strong and brave, she is sweet and kind and she is so easy to read about and to feel connected to. 
Her view of the world was so different from any other YA character you will come across and I really enjoyed her story!

Miles was a real mystery and kind of still is but I love that! The whole time I was reading this book I loved him but I was also curious about him… he brought an element to this story that pushed it above and beyond.
His ‘don’t care’ attitude, his way with words and history facts will have you smiling at every page his name is mentioned. 

The Plot line was so fantastic in this book! There were twist and turns and it wasn’t just another book about a girl with a mental illness that falls in love with a boy. It was intense and heartbreaking but funny and intriguing. It had so many different elements to the plot line which I found fantastic!

I can assure you that once you start reading Zappia’s novel you won’t be able to put it down! 

I would definitely recommend this to everyone!!!

Happy reading!
Rachel xx

Breathing Under Water

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5 Stars
‘Breathing Under Water by Sophie Hardcastle’

{Ben and Grace Walker are twins. Growing up in a sleepy coastal town it was inevitable they’d surf. Always close, they hung out more than most brothers and sisters, surfing together for hours as the sun melted into the sea. At seventeen, Ben is a rising surf star, the golden son and the boy all the girls fall in love with. Beside him, Grace feels like she is a mere reflection of his light. In their last year of school, the world beckons, full of possibility. For Grace, finishing exams and kissing Harley Matthews is just the beginning.
Then, one day, the unthinkable. The sun sets at noon and suddenly everything that was safe and predictable is lost. And everything unravels.}

Everyone needs to stop what they are doing and go and pick this book up!

Have you ever been in the ocean and you swim out past the waves and past the sand dunes, you swim until you feet can’t touch the ground and you just lay on your back and float?
I grew up doing just that. There aren’t many things that feel as peaceful as laying on a body of water looking up into the sky. It’s beautiful and it takes your breath away because in that moment you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
That’s the feeling I got while reading this book and yes, of course, I had to use a metaphor about the sea because this book is all about it. 😛

As I read through the first few chapters I felt so excited about the book. I had already connected with all the characters and I felt a sort of comfort while reading it. I had only just started the book and I already felt this way.
But as you all know the sea isn’t always a beautiful calm place. It can get really scary and rough out there. It can pull you into a riff that you don’t know how to get out of. You can get sucked down by a wave and no matter how many times you pull yourself back up again another wave crashes you back down.
Just like how this story messed with my emotions. It was scary and it was rough. I am a wreck after reading this book!
But no matter how many times I get terrified by the ocean I will always see the beauty in it and want to still immerse myself in its waters again.

Breathing Under Water is a story about a seventeen-year-old girl. It deals with friends, love, death and struggling to stay afloat when all you want to do is sink.
Sophie Hardcastle is an incredible writer. Her words seemed so effortless but hold so much raw and powerful meaning behind them.
From the first few pages, I was wanting more!

In so many ways this book was so relatable to me. I think that is another reason why I loved it so much.
I grew up on a beach in Australia, Grace’s relationship with her brother Ben reminds me so much of my own relationship with my brother, even the small things like sausages being every teenagers party’s staple, that ugly heat in the middle of December and the way whenever boys get into an argument they always say ‘mate’ and the other guy gets angry at him for calling him that when in reality down here everyone calls everyone mate.
If you are from Australia you will love this book because it will remind you of home and if you aren’t from oz then it gives you a great taste of what it feels like down here.

The characters I really enjoyed. Grace had a really strong voice, she at times annoyed me but she was hurting and she was growing. Grace’s monologue throughout this book was perfect! I felt every relationship that she had (love, friend, family) and it felt so real. None of the relationships felt forced or lacking, Grace felt just like a normal girl. She felt just like myself at times.
Ben, I fell head over heels in love with! He was funny, charming and so caring. You could really see the way he loved people by his actions.
I also really loved Jack. God Jack had some issues in his life. I just wanted to hug him and tell him everything was going to be okay. He brought a lot to this book. His own characteristics rubbed off on Grace and helped her as a character feel more real.
I also loved all the other characters. I felt there was a lot of character development. Even with simple people like Mr. Mitchell Grace’s counsellor and the next door neighbour I still felt connected to these characters in a way that you almost never get from books. It’s a real talent to be able to create fictional people who come to life just like real people do, with all their own faults and their own traits.

As well as the characters being amazing the description of the landmarks and just where Grace goes in the book was incredible. The words on the page formed together to become a beautiful painting in my head. I don’t know if that has anything to do with the fact that I feel like I know so many places that are exactly the same as the places in the book or its just because Sophie is such a talented writer?

Honestly, I don’t have anything bad to say about this book. Maybe the only kind of downfall was that half way through the book I felt a little disconnected to Grace. But it was even in a way because Grace felt so numb in her life at the time that as a reader you start to feel a bit numb yourself. SO really that isn’t a downfall at all if you are looking at the writing point of view.It’s not many times that someone can say they feel exactly what the character was feeling.

Overall this book was phenomenal. It totally took me by surprise. I went into it thinking it might be a fun light hearted read but what I got out of it was so much more!
As you can tell I would recommended this book to everyone! I feel strangely proud that a book that came from an Aussie is so good…
But please guys pick this book asap! You will not be disappointed!

Happy reading
Rachel xx