ARC review: The Loop

The LoopImage result for the loop ben oliver

Author: Ben Oliver
Publisher: Chicken House
Pages: 363
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥
Expected date of publication: 5 May 2020

Synopsis from goodreads:

“Luka Kane will die in the Loop, a prison under the control of artificial intelligence.

Delays to his execution are granted if Luka submits to medical experiments. Escape is made impossible by a detonator sewn into his heart.

But on Luka’s seventeenth birthday, life in the Loop is altered: the government-issued rain stops falling and rumours of unrest start to spread. Breaking out might be his only chance to survive… and to stop a catastrophe from deleting humankind.”

I managed to win an ARC copy of this book at YALC this year and I was immediately taken in by the quote that was included on the front cover of my copy: “This will pierce a hole through the right atrium of your heart… It will track your movements. It will connect you to the loop, and, most importantly, it will detonate and will kill you if you step out of line.

What a quote to entice a reader! I liked the sound of the book and I was in the mood for a bit of a thriller read so I picked it up and I’m so glad I did.

Initially, the scene is set and you come to understand life in the Loop where things are constant and expected and very, very monotonous and mundane. Luka Kane is a great main character and I liked his personality with his don’t look back and just keep moving attitude to everything that happens to him. Even though he is segregated from his fellow prison mates, he still manages to make friends and meets up with them thanks to his friendly Warden.

So we learn about the Loop and I especially appreciated the one sentence chapters in quick succession to reiterate that Luka Kane does the same thing every day, just like his prison mates. I started to wonder where the story would go and as soon as I thought that, something happens.

The pace changes, the tension creeps in, and suddenly this isn’t about life in the Loop anymore. Luka Kane has to battle through darkness of more than one kind, and he soon discovers that if he wants to survive, he will have to make brutal decisions.

I couldn’t believe how tense I felt reading this book when things take a different turn – it really felt like watching a scary movie but you don’t know what’s coming or what’s going to happen. I thoroughly enjoyed the thrill of reading The Loop and being surprised and shocked when certain things happen, but when it came to the reveal at the end with regards to why anything in the book happened, I have to say it fell a little flat for me. I had a certain expectation or hope for which direction the story would go, and I just felt disappointed with where it went. But I think that is purely personal preference and what I prefer to read over what someone else might absolutely love. That being said, I still liked this book regardless of my feelings over the ending and I’m still keen to see where the story goes.

The Loop is the first in a futuristic trilogy written by Ben Oliver. With The Maze Runner vibes, it’s the next dystopian thriller to have on your list to read.

Animal Ark: the book series that inspired my career choice

So basically, I have some big news in my life – I passed my exams and I’m going to be graduating as a vet later this month!!! After five years of high school; two years of college; five years of uni; countless placements in veterinary practices, farms, stables, kennels, rescue centres and a referral centre, I am finally going to be a vet that has been my dream ever since I was a child and read the Animal Ark children’s book series.

I found these books on the bookshelf in my Year Five class and I picked one up and decided to read it. I soon fell in love with these books and wanted to be just like Mandy Hope and grow up to become a vet. The books were a hit with my friends too, and soon we were all reading them and wishing to become vets just like Mandy wishes to in the books. But for most, it was just a fad and suddenly they weren’t reading the books anymore or wishing to become vets, and I was the only one left that still clung to the books like they were my lifeline.

I borrowed as many as I could find in the school and public libraries, a solid favourite of mine being The Kitten in the Cold and I borrowed that book dozens of times to reread. My sister had copies of other books in the series and I fervently read those too. I looked online for other copies I hadn’t read yet and they featured on my Christmas lists, and a little collection grew rapidly in my room. Then came the Animal Ark magazine which I delighted in buying. All I wanted was to become a vet.

On Friday 13th 2019 and with a full moon no less, that dream of mine that was born from books, finally came true.

I’m going to graduate and start my first job as a vet. Looking back on little me that was borrowing books from my sister and the school and public libraries, just to keep reading about Mandy’s adventures and wishing and hoping I could be just like her and become a vet, I think she would be very happy to know that she did it. She manages to pass her exams and she’s going to do what she always wished.

Books are what dreams are made of and have the capability to birth new dreams and weave new magic into our lives. Where would I be without reading? What would I be doing if I hadn’t discovered Animal Ark? I’m not sure I would be where I am right now, and for that I can only thank the authors that wrote under the pseudonym Lucy Daniels (I was shocked when I found out it wasn’t one person that wrote these books!) for writing about Mandy Hope and bringing with it, my dream come true.

Animal Ark inspired me and for that it will always have a special place in my heart.

Sherwood Book Review

SherwoodImage result for sherwood meagan spooner

Author: Meagan Spooner
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 470
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Synopsis from goodreads:

“Robin of Locksley is dead.

Maid Marian doesn’t know how she’ll go on, but the people of Locksley town, persecuted by the Sheriff of Nottingham, need a protector. And the dreadful Guy of Gisborne, the Sheriff’s right hand, wishes to step into Robin’s shoes as Lord of Locksley and Marian’s fiancé.

Who is there to stop them?

Marian never meant to tread in Robin’s footsteps—never intended to stand as a beacon of hope to those awaiting his triumphant return. But with a sweep of his green cloak and the flash of her sword, Marian makes the choice to become her own hero: Robin Hood.”

From the author that brought us the Beauty and the Beast retelling, Hunted, this latest release is a Robin Hood retelling where Lady Marian becomes the legend. I absolutely loved Hunted and couldn’t wait to read Sherwood so when I found a copy at YALC, I had to buy it and this has been my favourite book I’ve read in August. But before I begin, can we take a moment to appreciate this front cover? Not only does it match a similar style to Hunted (I just want to clarify that this isn’t a sequel to Hunted) but I adore the rain and gloomy appearance on this cover with its cosy autumnal feel, making for a perfect book to read this autumn.

Image result for autumn gif

As I’ve said, this isn’t a sequel to Hunted so you don’t have to have read this before reading Sherwood, but they are both retellings and so both come under the umbrella of a series, hence the similarly designed front covers and layout of the books. Where Hunted flicked between Beauty and the Beast’s points of view, Sherwood alternates between Marian’s present day and a past memory she shares of Robin. These flashbacks were super cute and gave us a glimpse of how their friendship formed and how much Robin influenced Marian in her life, and vice versa.

We start off knowing that Robin of Locksley is dead and a part of me thought this was maybe going to go in a different direction and I thought we might only hear news of his death, but we do actually read the moment he died so it’s quite firmly planted into the story with no room for the legendary hero to come back and save the day. Enter Marian who takes up the mantel instead and I thought the lead and build-up to this was done at a suitable pace, making for a more believable and understandable Robin Hood character.

Image result for robin hood gif

There’s a brilliant protagonist and an equally fantastic antagonist as Marian battles against Guy of Gisborne who works for the Sheriff, to steal from the rich and help bring food for the poor. It’s the story of Robin Hood that we know and love, but from an interesting angle as a woman being behind the legend instead.

Marian was a fearless character and totally loyal to her friends which is how Robin Hood is born, through Marian saving a friend. There’s an evolution to her character as Marian realises she could do more for Robin’s people and starts stealing from the rich to give to the poor. I really enjoyed reading her escapades dressed in her dear Robin’s cloak and bringing about some justice for the poor, and I especially loved the idea that it was in fact Marian that was better at shooting arrows than Robin, again displaying the idea that a woman could do it just as good as a man.

Image result for bow and arrow gif

This book had a good feminist attitude with Marian and her friend Elena disguising themselves as men and finally being accepted by their male friends when they reveal their identities, even though it takes some of them a little time to come to terms with. They are both such good characters that won’t let men stand in their way or hide at the side rather than help fight for justice; I also loved their friendship and trust in each other.

The writing in this book is crisp and beautiful with the right amount of description to contrast against action-packed scenes. However this was one of those books that I really had no idea where the ending would go and I couldn’t have guessed it if I tried, so I was taken by surprise with how the story ended and it’s up for you to decide if you like it or not! I think going into this book, I had an idea in mind with how it would end but it went in a totally different direction, and that’s what I love about reading stories for the first time  – you just don’t know how they will end!

A gorgeous book that is perfect to read this autumn. If you love the legend of Robin Hood, then be sure to read this whilst wrapped up in a jumper with the rain tapping the windows – you can thank me later.

“Who are you to say that being a lady, in itself, is not its own kind of war.”

– Meagan Spooner, Sherwood

August wrap-up!

Hey bookworms – it’s finally September! So can we crack open that can of pumpkin purée or is it too soon? But seriously, how fast has summer gone? I feel like I blinked and it whipped by and it’s suddenly September and autumn is peeking round the corner. I’m pretty glad for it to be over soon though and make way for one of the best seasons of the year so I can get stuck into some cosy autumnal books as the nights gradually darken more quickly. August has been a month of working and revision for me for an exam coming up this month so I haven’t really read much but I did manage a total of three books in the end! I read a variety of genres with some contemporary, fantasy and thriller books to keep me on my toes and I thoroughly enjoyed them all.

What Magic is This?Image result for what magic is this holly bourne

Author: Holly Bourne
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
Pages: 152
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Goodreads link
Full review here

A dyslexic-friendly novella about the friendship between three girls as they dabble in magic to try and solve some of their problems, this was quick and easy to race through with a lovely message in the end that friendship is magic. It had some Spinster Club vibes (a trilogy by the same author) but I really liked the new characters it introduced and their stories. Short but sweet.

SherwoodImage result for sherwood meagan spooner

Author: Meagan Spooner
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 470
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Goodreads link

A Robin Hood retelling coming from the author that gave us Hunted, in which Lady Marian becomes the legend. I loved this story and its characters, set in a similar way to Hunted as we see flashbacks between a blossoming friendship between Robin and Marian. It’s a heart-warming story as Marian must come to terms with her grief and new friendships are made.

The LoopImage result for the loop ben oliver

Author: Ben Oliver
Publisher: Chicken House
Pages: 363
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥
Goodreads link

Due to be released in March 2020, this dystopian thriller did not disappoint and I was hooked from the beginning as we delved into a world of nightmares. It was definitely a page-turning read but I found some bits really quite creepy and I’m still not sure what to make of the ending.

 

Have you read any of these books? Let me know what you thought of them in the comments! I just realised that I haven’t read any backlist books this month and these are all 2019/future releases so I’ll have to make sure I include some 2018 or previously released books in September to contribute to the Beat the Backlist challenge! I’m still contemplating what to read next but after reading The Loop I’m rather in the mood for some more thriller reads.

What did you read in August?