Month: November 2019

Book Review: Dead Ends

Dead Ends by Erin Lange – Published July 3rd 2014 by Faber Faber (first published September 3rd 2013)

This is just going to be a brief review.
Erin Lange is a great author, with a really enjoyable style that makes her books easy to read.
This book follows a young boy named Dane, who makes a surprising friend; Billy. Dane is feared by the other kids at school due to his violent reputation. But Billy manages to use Dane is a way of deterring other bullies, leading to an unexpected friendship between the boys.
Their friendship involves a sort of deal, where Dane promises to help Billy find his father. But as Dane learns more about Billy’s past, he starts to wonder whether he’s doing the right thing.
Like I said, Lange’s writing is really easy to read. This story was surprisingly heart-warming, with a rather bittersweet ending. It tackled some serious issues that I think are so important for kids to learn about, too.
Overall, I’m giving this 3.5 to 4 stars out of 5.

Book Review: The Astonishing Colour of After

The Astonishing Colour of After by Emily X.R. Pan – Published March 22nd 2018 by Orion Children’s Books

Another book I read almost four months ago now (oops!). I think it’s time to get this review written!

I was immediately drawn to this book when I read the blurb. Leigh is a young woman struggling to accept her mother’s suicide. She finds herself travelling to Taiwan to meet her mother’s parents, where Leigh discovers more about her mother and her family than she ever expected.

This book was written beautifully, with colours expressing emotion. Leigh is an artist and thus pretty much thinks in terms of colour. It’s also an amazing mix of real-life, sorrow and loss, and fantasy. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but Leigh is convinced her mother is visiting her even after her death, but in a very different form.

As well as all the emotions surrounding the loss of her mother, Leigh addresses the issues around being a “half-blood”. As a child of mixed-race parents myself, I found some of the things in this book incredibly relatable. But it wasn’t an overbearing part of the story though, which I thought was fantastic.

This was a really emotional book, fantastically written. It was sad but heart-warming. 5 stars; I loved it!

Book Review: Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl – Published February 4th 2010 by Penguin Books (first published December 1st 2009)

So I finally got round to reading this a little while back. I’ve seen bits and pieces of the movie on TV, but never really knew what it was about. It is quite a romance-based story, but I enjoyed it more than I anticipated.
Again, I read this quite a while ago, so my review is only going to be short.
Ethan has nightmares where he loses someone – someone he’s never met before. And then one day she appears. She turns up at school, the niece of the creepy guy who lives in the creepy mansion. She’s not exactly normal herself, either. The other kids at school pick up on this immediately, and she becomes the centre of attention. And not the good kind.
I’m not going to tell you the whole plot, but it’s full of mystery and magic and a fair bit of romance. There’s even loss; there is one particular moment toward the end that I found particularly poetic. (If you read it, here’s a hint: it’s to do with Macon and rain.)
The ending in particular left me wanting to read on. I’m actually putting this series on my Christmas wish list! 4.5 stars.

Book Review: The Weight of a Thousand Feathers

The Weight of a Thousand Feathers by Brian Conaghan
– Published June 14th 2018 by Bloomsbury Children’s Books

I actually finished this nearly two months ago, so this review is only going to be short. But I definitely thought this book deserved a review!

Bobby Seed is a young carer, looking after his mother who has MS. This book describes how her condition declined, affecting her every day life. Bobby not only has to care for himself and his poorly mother, but his younger brother who has an undiagnosed learning difficulty.

Because of his responsibilities, Bobby doesn’t have much time for any normal teenager activities. Then he finds a support group for young carers like him, providing a much-needed break from his daily routine. He begins to make friends there, and even goes on a weekend break with the group.

Bobby’s mum begins to request things for her birthday. First, she asks to get stoned – it relieves the pain and reminds her of her younger days, she says. But then things get darker, and Bobby finds himself stuck in an awful place, with a decision no son should ever have to make.

I found this to be incredibly raw and honest. Obviously I don’t know whether it’s actually accurate or relatable, but it was definitely emotional. And there was a certain part with Lou, a friend Bobby makes at the carers’ group, that was just… wow. It was shocking and strange but sad, too, really. I thought it was really fantastic overall. 4.5 stars.

Book Review: The Shadow Girl

First of all, I’d like to say a huge thank you to the author/publisher of this book for providing me with a free copy in return for my opinion. (I desperately searched through my emails so I could send a link but hopefully you see this anyway!)

The Shadow Girl by Misty Mount
Published March 2019 by Between the Lines Publishing

This is a young adult book, with 13-year-old Zylia as the protagonist. She’s a fair bit younger than me, which can sometimes impact my enjoyment of a book. However, I didn’t have too much of a problem with it in this case. Mount managed to capture the young girl’s voice fantastically – it was like being inside Zylia’s head – but with a dark, more mature undertone. In fact, I think this may actually be a little too dark for most 13-year-olds.

I was immediately reminded of All the Lonely People when I read this. Not in a bad way, though; it wasn’t too similar that it was boring or anything like that. I just found it interesting to note that the two shared a similar premise, based on fading out of existence due to basically being forgotten or erased.

There were a few important social issues sprinkled throughout this book which was a nice touch. Underage smoking and even bullying and self-esteem problems were the key ones I picked up. If a younger person were to read this, I think these are great topics for them to be educated on.

I did notice quite a lot of spelling mistakes and typos which was a shame. Editing can really make or break a book!

Overall, I did enjoy this. It started off a bit slow, coming to quite a big crescendo near the end. 3.5 to 4 stars.