Thursday, 5 May 2016

REVIEW: The Girl of Ink & Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

27973757I received an ARC of this book from the publisher for free, in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect the content of my review in any form.

Author: Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Published by: Chicken House Books on 5th May 2016
Genres: Middle-Grade, Fantasy, Adventure, Magic
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Links: Goodreads | Wordery | Hive | Kindle


Forbidden to leave her island, Isabella Riosse dreams of the faraway lands her father once mapped.

When her closest friend disappears into the island’s Forgotten Territories, she volunteers to guide the search. As a cartographer’s daughter, she’s equipped with elaborate ink maps and knowledge of the stars, and is eager to navigate the island’s forgotten heart.

But the world beyond the walls is a monster-filled wasteland – and beneath the dry rivers and smoking mountains, a legendary fire demon is stirring from its sleep. Soon, following her map, her heart and an ancient myth, Isabella discovers the true end of her journey: to save the island itself.

I remember the very first time I met Kiran, and this was at Melinda Salisbury's launch party. Unknowingly, I had mentioned a quick hello to her, a flick of the wrist kind of wave, completely unaware that I was currently speaking to the author of one of my most anticipated novels I had just discovered. I was excited to no end when I first heard and searched up The Girl of Ink and Stars - I'm always on the hunt for magic-filled fantasies with maps. Because for one thing - MAPS. Only, this particular novel focuses on cartography and that had me squealing with elation. Back to our first meeting, it was only due to the lovely Jazz Bartlett that I had cracked the mystery of who I had just spoken to and by then, Kiran had already disappeared.

It felt as though from that point on-wards that I truly knew Kiran's book would turn out to be something special, something I'll treasure and that I needed to read it desperately. Think me weird, but I was completely right. I had the misfortune of being trapped within a truly deadly reading slump in the month of Feburary. I barely finished a single book for nearly a month despite the countless exciting new releases I had at my behest. Instead, I chose to dive into The Girl of Ink and Stars (and my gosh, the proof copy is STUNNING. The finished edition is just as, if not more beautiful). 

And slowly but surely, I lapped up each and every word. I endorsed myself into this new magical world where I had grown attached to the characters, fell in love with the the myths and stories spun by the protagonist and explored the lands that had been lingering in Kiran's mind but were now on paper for all the world to see. Her writing is truly outstanding - breathtakingly so, from page one. It truly does feel like reading a fairytale with the magical realism and fantastical elements as we follow Isabella in her adventure through the Forgotten Territories of Joya. A world which I long to return to and hope to do so in the near future.

I haven't experienced reading a story like this since Katherine Rundell's Wolf Wilder and Rooftoppers - both of which are exquisite and wonderfully written and two of my favourite middle-grade tales. Though both author's hold completely different writing styles, they're equally beautiful, unrivaled and powerful till the very last page. Kiran's lyrical writing and imagination is truly inspiring and admirable and I long to see what else she has stored in that great mind of hers! 

The Girl of Ink & Stars is a fresh new masterpiece, both compelling and remarkable from the gorgeous cover to the wonderfully written story stored inside that shall ensnare the hearts of many. I wish for all to read this, and for all to fall in love with it the same way I have.

Gold Wreath


Sunday, 1 May 2016

Raven King Blog Tour: Series Review & Giveaway!


We have come to the end of another epic journey. The conclusion to the exhilarating series by Maggie Stiefvater is now out in the wild for the world to read and fall in love with. As I have. And in celebration of the release of The Raven King, I've decided to post a review.

Sounds dull, doesn't it? So I opted for a second route - reviewing the series as a whole. I mean, I'd love to write individual reviews for each quarter of this series but honestly, I would be repeating myself over and over. Every single word, every single page, character and plot twist were written to perfection. The only change in the reviews being I'd probably say that the series gets better and better. Because it does. I don't want new potential Raven Cycle fans to pick up just the first book, hesitating whether or not they'll enjoy the series or not and putting it off. So I'm here to tell my story of how I was pulled in and mesmerized by this series.

So without further ado. Here we go.

Two years. That's how long The Raven Boys had been sitting pretty on my shelf until I finally sucked in my cheeks and decided to pick it up. It's a funny story really. Two years ago, I'd have never imagined the series to get such a huge audience, or to become the topic of almost every reader's conversations. But then during 2015, we had the rise of an app called QuizUp. I'm pretty sure a lot of bloggers would've heard about this…

Moving on, this competitive app featured a topic called YA Fiction and it was through this that my need to read the Raven Cycle had ignited. There were questions about the characters, significant objects and words that had me so intrigued and desperate to know what it meant. So I read it. And absolutely, head-over-heels fell in love with it. It took me by complete and utter surprise because there was a huge difference between this series and her Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, which was the first piece of work by Stiefvater that I had read. The Raven Cycle was weird and intricate, so deftly crafted and wonderfully written that I began to wonder if the face behind Shiver and Raven Boys were truly one and the same.

Not that Shiver was awful or anything. Just different.

Maggie Stiefvater knows how to write characters. She knows every single hidden tactic, every concealed secret about getting a reader to fall in love with the characters in a book. In this case, she had succeeded in making me care and love them all. And I mean - Every. Single. One. The attachment I have to these characters is insane. And the character development only gets that much better as the series go on. After each book, you're left thinking ‘it can't possibly get any better than this’ but think again my friends, because Maggie might just take you by surprise. Whether good or bad, that's for you to find out. 

In regards to the plot, many can label it as weird. And it is. But it's extraordinary and nothing like anything I've ever read before. There's mythology, magical realism with a touch of fantastical elements. A group of prestigious boys and the daughter of a psychic band together to go on the hunt for a dead Welsh King - sounds crazy. But there's so much more to the story. It's about friendship, it's about acceptance and family. There's betrayal, mystery and mayhem and unlikely romances and tragedies. Everything you could possibly want in a magical series. Diversity, subtle and natural. Utter perfection. And I loved every single word.

For some, they found it tough to get into the series and I could see why from their viewpoint, but I was part of the group of those who were sucked in instantly. And it was the best decision I had ever made to pick up this series. It was an even better decision to marathon them. And I was left completely speechless and satisfied by the end. The finale being one of the best I've ever read.

For those looking for something new, something different with fantastic characters and relationships and beautiful writing. Look no further! READ. THIS. SERIES. And fall in love with my favourite Raven Boys the way I have.

Series Rating:
Gold Wreath

Now for the exciting part!

The fabulous people at Scholastic have provided me with an incredible prize pack containing ALL FOUR BOOKS and exclusive badges! So here's your chance to win one of my favourite series ever and fall in love with it yourself!


This is open to residents of the UK and Ireland only! Giveaway is open until midnight 8th May 2016 and winner shall be picked at random and announced the following day. Winner will be given 48 hours to respond otherwise another winner shall be selected. You must email/DM me your postal address which I shall then pass onto Scholastic to send out your prize. I will not be disclosing any personal information to anyone else.

Good luck!

'That's all there is.'


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