Book Review: The Winter Sacrifice

The Winter Sacrifice by Marisa Claire – Rise of the Dark Fae #1

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
I will not discuss the plot too much in my review, to avoid spoilers for any potential readers. (Plus, the blurb does a pretty good job of this.)
My main points of note are that this was simultaneously unique and rather stereotypical/cliche. That makes no sense, I know, but that’s how I felt. It’s like it was trying a little too hard to be different, you know? I can’t say I read very many books like this so I’m no expert in the genre, but still. That’s just how it came across to me.
That being said, I did actually really enjoy reading it. It was easy to read, and it was pretty fun. There were moments I didn’t see coming. I’m even considering getting the sequel.
One other criticism I do have, though, is that it felt a little amateurish at times. There were some typos that I noticed, but also some phrases or lines of dialogue that just felt off. While it was nothing major, I feel that little details like these can make a huge difference!
My rating is between 3.5 and 4 stars. I really did enjoy it, more than I ever would have expected. But there are definitely a few areas for improvement.

Book Review: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

This was certainly an interesting book.
It begins with April May discovering a giant metal robot sculpture. As an artist herself, she appreciates how much effort this must have taken, and is appalled to find no one else paying any attention to it. So she calls her best friend, Andy, who makes videos and podcasts. They upload a video of April and the robot, which goes viral. This may seem a bit odd – it’s just a video of a sculpture, right? But it turns out there’s one of these robots in every major city on Earth, and absolutely no witnesses or footage of how they got there.
Anyway, it turns out these ‘Carls’ as they come to be known are a pretty big deal. And quite possibly alien.
April and Andy are caught up in all of this, inexplicably linked to the ‘alien’ robots forever. Fame and wealth overtake their lives. Their story is really quite remarkable (hah! I get the title now).
The first thing I noted was that April is in her twenties, which I liked a lot. So many YA novels have younger protagonists, and I struggle to relate to them now I’m getting a bit older. I loved having a YA story full of mystery and excitement that begins after the age of twenty. (Perhaps there’s still hope for me yet, eh?)
I also liked the narrative format – April is writing it as an account of the past, it seems, with some insight she would only gain from experiences later on.
As with any good book, there are a ton of subplots, too. April’s relationships are extremely complicated – she messes them up on a frequent basis. She also struggles to maintain her humanity with the sudden fame she acquires, which is so often the case in these circumstances. As she is telling the story from the ‘future’, this means she is able to identify and comment on her mistakes, too.
The ending was both extremely unexpected and kind of predictable. I was both refreshed and annoyed by how many things were left unresolved – especially a lot of April’s relationships. I think it’s purely a matter of personal preference as to how you take the ending of this book.

Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

As this was an ARC, I did notice quite a lot of typos, grammatical errors and also some dodgy formatting that impacted my reading a bit. However, I assume most of these would not be present in the final publication, so won’t let them alter my final rating.
Overall, I really did enjoy this. It was unique for sure, and though I didn’t actually like April all that much as a person, she was a pretty good character. 4 stars!

Book Review: Little White Lies

Little White Lies by Philippa East – Published February 6th 2020 by HQ

This is another thriller (can you tell I like them?) but I actually found it really quite unique.
Seven years ago, Anne lost her daughter. She went missing at a train station: caught on CCTV climbing the steps out to the street, and then gone without a trace. But now she’s back, and Anne is happy – isn’t she? Her family is finally back together, her twins have their big sister back, and they’re going to find out who did this.
But Anne isn’t happy. Everything isn’t right. There are secrets holding her back from being happy.
As is often the case, everything is not as simple as it first seems. Abigail (the daughter)’s case seems to be solved; the abductor has been found, Abigail is home. But there are still so many questions to be answered, so many holes to be filled. Everyone seems to be hiding something – sometimes without even knowing.
I really liked the approach of this book. Ok, it’s not the first time that the family has been hiding something. But the ‘secrets’ that come to life are… different to usual.
Actually, I kind of thought it was a bit exaggerated, honestly. As in, the secrets weren’t that bad. But I won’t say too much in case I spoil it for any potential readers.

Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I was excited to find out more, to discover the truth of what happened. 4 stars.

Book Review: As I Disappear

As I Disappear by Annalise Grey – Published April 4th 2013 by Wildling Press (first published April 3rd 2013)

This was a very short book that I found through a Goodreads list, and so my review is only going to be extremely brief.

It’s written in free-verse and supposedly meant to be read in two voices, though this wasn’t overly apparent to me. It is based on the author’s experience with an eating disorder (hence why I was so attracted to this book). However, it is not overtly eating-disorder centred; it’s poetry, obviously, and quite subtly discusses the topic in my opinion. I must say I didn’t emotionally connect to it as much as I have done with other pieces of literature, but it was still very good nonetheless. 3.5 stars.

Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: At the End of Your Tether

At the End of Your Tether by Adam Smith – Published (first published November 12th 2019)

I’m only going to write a fairly brief review of this graphic novel, simply because I don’t want to give too much of the plot away for any other potential readers. This means I might have to keep it quite vague, too, so I apologise in advance!
An extremely simplified summary of the plot is that Ludo’s girlfriend goes missing under rather peculiar circumstances. When a body is found alongside the burned wreckage of her car, most people accept that she is dead. But Ludo doesn’t – he’s sure something is wrong with the whole situation and is determined to find answers.
And he does eventually find answers. But I was left with so many questions; I really would have liked more detail and information about how it all worked and why it happened. I was just left confused, honestly.
Don’t get me wrong, the writing was great and I did enjoy it. The premise was really unique and interesting, too. I just would have liked to understand things a bit more.

Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

The art was great, too. It was detailed and clear, and generally really quite pleasant to look at.
I’m giving this book 3.5 stars overall.

2019 in Review

A new decade has officially begun! It’s crazy how fast 2019 went by. And what better way to welcome in the new year than by looking back at all the books I read last year? Plus, I’ll let you see some of the books I’m planning to read this year, too! (Not my whole TBR pile, of course – just the highest priority and imminent reads!)

You probably all know that Goodreads provides a Year in Books summary for users, with tons of cool statistics and highlights. If you’re interested in seeing what mine looks like, feel free to go check it out. Sadly, I did not reach my goal of 100 books, nor did I beat my record of 82 books read throughout 2017, but I did beat last year; I managed 58 books in total. That’s more than a book a week, so I guess that’s still pretty good!

Here are a few of the most noteworthy books that I read this past year, and a short summary of why I liked them so much:

  • The Dark Artifices trilogy by Cassandra Clare. I finished the first two and am partway through the third at the moment. I adored The Mortal Instruments series, and just love how these books follow a different group of characters, while still updating us on the original characters that we know and love. Seeing how everyone has grown up is just lovely, and I’m really growing fond of the new group, too. I’m invested in their issues, and I really feel their pain. The ending of Lord of Shadows near killed me; I’m still so shaken and sad.
  • The Astonishing Colour of After (which I reviewed here). An interesting angle on grief, with strong fantasy elements. The writing was just wonderful and the whole book was incredibly emotional.
  • The final two books in Alice Broadway’s Skin Books trilogy. (I loved the first one, too, but I read that in 2018 so thought it didn’t belong in this post.) A unique story, intriguing and exciting. The plot really did thicken throughout each of the books, and the series ended nicely, too.

And finally, here are some of the books I plan to read over the next year. I’m aiming for 100 books again, so I obviously won’t be listing them all here!

How many books did you manage to read this past year? Any particularly noteworthy? And what’s your goal for 2020? Do you have any specific books you’re planning to read?

I hope you all have a wonderful new year, and that everyone finds a new book love!

Book Review: Nemesis

Nemesis by Brendan Reichs – Published July 13th 2017 by Macmillan Children’s Books (first published March 21st 2017)

This is the last review I need to write to get back on track (finally!) It’s only going to be brief I’m afraid, though!
I love Kathy Reichs, especially her Virals series, and naturally thought I would enjoy this, too. And I did, to a degree – just not as much as I had expected to. The book alternates between two narrators, Noah and Min. They don’t seem to have that much in common, except that every other year, on their birthday, they are both murdered. They then wake up in different places the next morning, alive and well.
I will not go into too much depth on this, but it’s probably quite obvious that this odd occurrence freaks both kids out. And of course, they want to know what the heck is going on, and why it’s happening to them. Their paths eventually cross, and they discover that they are both ‘Betas’ in a secret project.
It was an intriguing storyline, and I am really interested to know more. But it was also a bit… I don’t know, my questions weren’t all answered. In fact, not many of them were at all. I also didn’t really connect with the characters as much as I did with Virals, so that was a shame.
Overall, I’m giving it 3.5 stars. Maybe one day I’ll continue reading the series, but it’s not really a priority.

Book Review: Superpowerless

Superpwerless by Chris Priestley – Published June 15th 2017 by Hot Key Books

I’ve quite liked Chris Priestley’s work in the past, but this was… odd. It wasn’t quite what I’d thought it was going to be. I appreciated the comic book references – David’s coping mechanism, if you will, is his superpowered alter-ego. I liked David’s character in this sense, and in several others, but I couldn’t get past one main factor: he spies on girls from his bedroom window using his telescope. Okay, he does acknowledge that it’s wrong, and it started out as an accident, and he even admits to the girl he watches that he watches her. But I still found it weird.
There’s a lot going on in this book (besides David spying on Holly, his neighbour). David actually begins to care for Holly after learning about her personal life, and David himself is still grieving his father. He has some girl problems, too, and ends up falling out with his closest friend, Joe. Amongst all the semi-normal adolescent problems, David also finally comes to term with a huge reality that he already knew, but could never bring himself to accept. It’s the reason he visualises himself as a superhero who can never quite save the car – or the people in it.
This was pretty unique in its own right, and touching, too. David’s relationships are all quite strained, and it takes some effort to repair things – effort that David has been neglecting to give up until now. 3.5 stars.

Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – Published April 10th 2014 by Headline Review (Hachette)

This was everything you’d expect from Neil Gaiman: oddly fascinating, mildly disturbing, and utterly fantastic.
Our narrator – who remains unnamed throughout the entire book – gives his account of a peculiar childhood, where monsters are real and reality can literally be torn away. At seven, he meets a girl from down the lane, Lettie. She introduces him to a world of magic and wonder, taking him into a mystical wood full of strange creatures. It’s here that our narrator acquires a rather unique kind of hitchhiker, who makes itself at home inside his foot. This horrific creature wreaks havoc on our young narrator, who must find a way to banish it – with the help of Lettie, of course.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was captivating, with a strangely poetic feel to it. It certainly was a unique adult fantasy tale. Somewhere between 4.5 and 5 stars from me!

Book Review: Moth Girls

Moth Girls by Anne Cassidy – Published January 7th 2016 by Hot Key Books

I finished this book so long ago. I can’t believe I am only just getting round to writing the review… I’m afraid it will only be a quick one again, though.
This is a YA thriller/mystery novel where Mandy is recalling the disappearance of her two best friends five years ago, surfacing now due to the demolition of the house that they disappeared in, never to return. She remembers the things they did together, even that very day when they vanished. And she becomes obsessed with finding answers, determined to figure out what truly happened.
It’s a great book, honestly. It was exciting and intriguing and clever. It covered some unexpected, serious issues, and was resolved in an oddly and tragically nice way.
It’s definitely a good read for younger thriller fans, but can also be enjoyed by older readers, I think. 4 stars!