Author: Eleanor

I've always been a bookworm, and I also love to create my own stories. I'm dealing with a few crappy issues and find that there's nothing better than immersing myself in a fictional world.

I’m Hosting a Fundraiser!

Hi everyone! So, I’m a huge animal lover. Before I left uni, I was in the process of applying for a voluntary role with the RSPCA, an animal rescue organisation. But since all this lockdown stuff happened, I’ve obviously been unable to help them out. So instead I’ve decided to raise some money for them from here at home! Just because we’re all in lockdown does not mean there isn’t tons of work to be done – animals always need helping and saving. In fact, they need us now more than ever.

What I’ve done is form my own kind of readathon challenge. Throughout July, I plan to read at least 10 books, cover to cover. I’m taking donations, but if you’re interested in joining, you can! Just contact me and I can add you to the team.

My goal is £250. If you can donate anything at all, I’d be so thankful! Or as I said, you can join in, or even just share it with your friends and family. You can find all the information here. I’ll also be posting updates on my fundraising campaign through GoFundMe, and probably through the BookMarked newsletter, too. (Feel free to subscribe here!)

Thank you for reading!

Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow – ebook, Published September 10th 2019 by Orbit

At a time like this, I think we all need to be whisked away into another world. This book is perfect for that!

January Scaller is “a perfectly unique specimen”. In other words, she’s not white, but she’s not entirely coloured, either. Her father is a dark-skinned man from somewhere far away – January doesn’t know where – and her mother is no longer around. While her father travels the world for work, rarely returning home to her, January lives with the man who hired her father and practically saved their lives. His name is Mr Locke. He is wealthy, white, and the nearest thing January has to family most of the time.

One day January finds a book titled The Ten Thousand Doors. As she reads, she discovers the amazing truths about the world around her – and the thousands of others – as well as herself.

But January isn’t the only one who knows about the Doors to other worlds. It turns out the people closest to her already knew – and some of them aren’t happy about her finding out.

So January spends time in a mental asylum, is attacked by a man-slash-vampire, almost loses her beloved dog, and ends up travelling to places she could have only dreamt of.

This was a truly magical book. It had a sort of Inkheart-like vibe to me in some ways, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There were twists and turns, beautiful imagery and emotional moments and development.

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

As this was a sort of historical fiction novel, there was a lot of emphasis on race inequality. Sadly, this feels all too relevant right now. The difference between how January is treated when she’s with Mr Locke – wealthy, upstanding, and most importantly, white – compared to when she’s alone is shocking. But of course, it’s real. And it’s still happening to some extent today.

Anyway, I really liked this book. It took a little while for me to get into it, though, so I’m giving it 4 stars. Definitely worth a read!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Book Review: Eden

Eden by Tim Lebbon – ebook, Published April 7th 2020 by Titan Books

Something I did not realise from the cover of this book is that it’s actually a thriller/horror. It’s not exactly scary, but there are some creepy elements and emotional moments around the last half of the novel.

The book is set in a not-so-distant future where humans have, to put it frankly, ruined the earth. In order for nature to begin to recover, ‘Virgin Zones’ have been set up – areas where nature is left to thrive, and where it’s illegal for any person to enter. But of course, people still do. Some of these people are a particular type of thrill-seekers, racing across these wild zones. Our protagonist, Jenn, is a member of a group of these travellers. Along with her father, boyfriend, and a few other friends, she sets out to cross Eden, the first Virgin Zone, with little more than a compass and some energy bars.

But Jenn another motive, too. Her mother – who left her and her father years ago, and only contacts Jenn to show her the Zones she’s crossed – has gone missing. And she was last seen crossing into Eden.

It turns out Jenn isn’t the only member of the group with ulterior motives, though. Legends of a mysterious, almost magical orchid have been spreading from various Zones. It’s believed that these ghost orchids have healing powers, possibly even immortality. And one of Jenn’s companions is hoping to find one.

What he doesn’t know is that the orchids are the centre of Eden. The centre of the horror, the fear, everything. And She – the very spirit of nature itself – will do anything to protect them.

The group face numerous hurdles, hunted by beasts working together in unnatural ways. As they find more and more corpses in odd states, their own group begins to dwindle.

I found this really interesting, not least because the whole setting is so plausible. The atmosphere gradually becomes tenser and tenser, as Jenn’s hunt for her mother well and truly comes to an end.

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

While I did enjoy this, I felt something was missing. I’m not sure what it is exactly, but I didn’t really click with Jenn, or feel her emotions all that much. 3.5 stars!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Book Review: The Cat and the City

The Cat and the City by Nick Bradley

Everything about this book appealed to me. My family are huge animal-lovers, and we all have a particular soft spot for cats. I would also love to visit Japan someday – the culture, the language, the scenery… It’s all so beautiful!
So I’m sure you’ve realised by now that this book is centred around a cat, and set in Japan. It’s quite hard to explain the book properly, as it’s a collection of separate narratives that all connect in various ways. And every person’s story features a particular cat, too.
Every character and narrative was extremely unique which I loved – from a renowned tattooist to a translator from America, to a homeless man living on the streets of Tokyo. There was also a large amount of Japanese terminology and cultural references. Some of it I wasn’t actually familiar with, and I have no existing personal knowledge or experience to compare it to, but it felt authentic to me.
One small complaint I have is that I didn’t find the passage of time particularly clear – were these stories taking place simultaneously, or in sequence? Or was there a longer length of time between each? The further I read, the more it kind of made sense to me, but I was a bit confused for quite a while.

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

This was a really interesting book, with some really lovely moments. There was also a slightly eerie, almost paranormal atmosphere following the cat, which I really loved!

Overall, I’m giving this book 4 out of 5 stars. Perhaps, if/when I ever get to visit Japan and learn more about the culture, I’ll read this book again and be able to appreciate it even more!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Book Review: Mermaid Adrift

Mermaid Adrift by Jennifer Laslie – Published April 2018

I actually received an ARC of this book via the author’s newsletter almost two years ago, but I have so many books to read (and so little time) that I only got round to reading it now. Oops!

I have always been a huge fan of mermaids. One of my all-time favourite series, even to this day, is the Ingo series by Helend Dunmore. Not quite your stereotypical mermaids, but I adore it nonetheless.

As the title suggests, this is a story about a mermaid. It begins five years in the past when Meryia, our purple-scaled protagonist, encounters a ship caught in a storm. Humans are dangerous, but for some reason, Meriya is compelled to save the boy – she knows she is physically unable to carry the older man – and return him to shore. He seems to be unconscious so she is safe from discovery, but she bears a small tear to her tale. Likewise, the boy has a wound on his forehead as a memento of the day’s events.At the ‘current’ time, Meriya is betrothed to a boy who has teased and taunted her for years at school, she can’t seem to do magic – and every mermaid can do magic – and occasionally, she still wonders about that boy she rescued all those years ago.

When Meriya decides to study the underwater volcanoes near the kingdom for her school assessment, she finds herself witnessing a full-on eruption. After hitting her head and being badly burned, she wakes in a strange enclosure which she soon discovers to be a garden pool.

Rowan has been obsessed with proving mermaids exist ever since he was rescued by one the night he lost his father. So when he finds Meriya washed up on the shore, he can’t believe his eyes. As someone who works with marine animal rehabilitation and care, he takes it upon himself to keep her safe and attempt to help her heal. He decides to keep her in his saltwater pool and tend to her wounds while she’s still unconscious.

Without going too far into detail, Meriya treats her captor with a mix of fear, hostility and contempt for quite some time. She has heard too many stories about humans to be able to trust him that easily. Rowan does his best to show her that humans aren’t that bad, and even protects her from his rather nosey best friend, Nick.

A lot happens. Nick becomes more of a threat than Rowan anticipated, and Meriya hears news telepathically from Cayson that the eruption has wiped out almost the whole kingdom. There’s a lot more, too, but you’ll have to read it yourself to find it all out.

I did find this a little bit cliché and stereotypical at times. But then again, cliché isn’t always a bad thing! Sometimes it’s nice to have something a little more light-hearted, cute and magical and reminiscent of childhood fairy tales. Plus, Laslie included a rather unique element that I liked: the concept of the Ocean being Her own character. I’d be interested in learning more about Her!

So overall, I definitely did enjoy this. It has possibly rekindled my love for mermaids (not that it ever truly died) and I may have to go and re-read the Ingo series again sometime soon. (Because I definitely don’t have enough new books to read.) 3.5 to 4 stars for this book.

Book Review: Staunch

Staunch by Eleanor Wood – Published March 19th 2020 by HQ

I finished this book over a week ago now but didn’t get round to writing up this review because so much has been going on. You would’ve thought the lockdown would bring weeks of relaxation and boredom, but apparently that isn’t quite the case in my house.

Anyway, onto the book. I honestly could have read the whole thing and not even realised it’s a memoir. It’s written in such a fantastic, rather comical way – it is thoroughly entertaining read despite the number of hardships and misfortune the author endures. These difficulties include bulimia, a break-up from a long-term, very serious relationship, surviving and escaping a pretty damn toxic relationship, and having her step-dad (who she is extremely close to) leave her mother, and thus, her.

Wood alternates between the ‘current’ day, where she is on holiday with three older female relatives in India, and the past – anywhere from her own past experiences to the childhood and history of her family members. It’s amazing how much detail she includes, and the anecdotes from her grandmother’s and great aunts’ pasts sound like stories in their own right. It’s quite amazing that it is all based on reality.

Side note, it’s quite funny to me that the author’s name is also Eleanor, and that she suffered with an eating disorder. It made me feel a kind of connection to her, I guess. I definitely related to her in a fair few ways.

Eleanor offers some surprisingly positive insights and revelations, especially toward the end of the book. For example, she describes how she has begun to accept the uncertainty of life and the impossibility of perfection all the time. She also mentions how she stops relying on disordered eating behaviours, as she realises that there is far more to life than shrinking yourself.

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

I really, really enjoyed this, which is quite surprising as I don’t usually read memoirs or anything like this, really. Eleanor is portrayed as a really likeable and relatable character, and definitely very down-to-earth and raw in discussing her experiences and thoughts. 4.5 stars!

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.