Fantasy/Sci-Fi

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.

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: 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: 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 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.

Book Review: Dawn to Dark

Dawn to Dark – eBook – Published March 30th 2019 by Lauren Dawes–Vixen Publishing

A huge thanks to the author/publisher for providing me with the opportunity to read this book via Hidden Gems.

This book is a compilation of various authors’ works. They are all based on different fairy-tales, most retold in a more modern setting or some other unique way.

The title suggests that these retellings are darker than the original (or more widely known) tales, but actually this wasn’t always the case. Some of the stories were modernised, but were still romantic or sweet. I was a little disappointed by this, honestly. That said, some were more sinister, though, and those were definitely my favourites!

Throughout all the stories I noticed quite a lot of typos and spelling mistakes. I can’t be sure if these are present in the final publication, but I thought I’d point it out just in case.

As the stories are all by different authors, it’s hard to give an overall rating – but I will try! None of the tales were particularly bad, but none overly wowed me either. I think 3.5 stars is an accurate rating, rounded up to 4.

Book Review: The First Time Lauren Pailing Died

The First Time Lauren Pailing Died by Alyson Rudd – eBook, Published July 11th 2019 by HQ

Wow. Wow.

I don’t like discussing the plots of books too much because of spoilers, but I don’t think I’d actually be able to describe this one even if I wanted to. There isn’t really a single plot – as there isn’t even a single reality.

At first, Lauren is a young girl who sees strange visions of different realities. Sometimes they include the people she knows, sometimes they’re complete strangers. Sometimes the worlds she sees look so similar to her own that she thinks she may be seeing the future.

As the title suggests, Lauren dies. But then suddenly she awakes in a slightly different world – one where her mother is slightly less pretty, and her accident was damaging but not fatal. She lives a wonderful life, despite feeling slightly out of place. But then she dies again, and wakes up as a mother of two children who she barely recognises. This time, her memories of her past lives slowly begin to make some sense.

I’ve focused on Lauren a lot there, but actually a large portion of this book follows other characters; her mother from one reality, her father from her first, and even her husband from her second life. It’s all rather confusing but there are small ties throughout the book which I found to be wonderfully clever.

It was amazing and surprisingly emotional to see all these different outcomes of everyone’s lives. Lauren’s mother goes on to have a wonderful life, while in another reality she can’t bear the grief and ends up committing suicide.

There is one constant throughout every reality, though; Lauren’s father’s boss, Peter Stanning, is missing. I’m not entirely sure why this became quite so important, why it was tied to Lauren’s strange situation. But I was relieved to find some closure for that particular thread of the story in the end.

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

My two main criticisms of this book are that it is really quite confusing and hard to follow at times, and there are also a lot of mistakes and missing words. As I received an ARC I cannot be sure whether these mistakes will be printed in the final publication or not, though.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this. It was heartbreaking and lovely and unique and strange. 4.5 stars!

Book Review: All The Lonely People

All The Lonely People by David Owen – eBook, 320 pages – Published January 10th 2019 by Atom

This was quite different to how I anticipated it to be. In a good way, I think.

The protagonist is Kat, and young feminist who loves Doctor Backwash and the YouTuber Tinker. As a fan of Tinker, Kat becomes the victim of a lot of online abuse. Slowly, she has to delete her entire online presence, including her YouTube account and her personal, custom-designed website. For so long, the online communities have been the only place she really felt she belonged. Now it was all gone.

And so was she.

The ‘fade’ that Kat experiences is very interesting. Suddenly nobody remembers her. Except one of the boys responsible for her disappearance, Wesley. He’s determined to find out what happened. Even if it’s just to alleviate his own overwhelming guilt.

There are a lot of important messages throughout this book, mostly about feminism and masculinity. The theme of sexism and abuse is huge. I did feel like it was maybe a bit exaggerated in places, but actually it does happen like that, sadly.

Kat also finds herself building a vital relationship during the fade, with another girl who is fading. Safa was one of a group of people, called ‘the lonely people’, who actively tried to fade. Like Kat, she is all but forgotten by the rest of the world.

The magic realism was great. It really felt like this was possible, if rather improbable. It was intriguing and exciting, especially when Kat discovers that a extremely sexist YouTuber is planning something bad. How is she going to stop him when no one can even see her?

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

I really enjoyed this book. It had emotional moments, funny moments, and plenty of endearing moments. Wesley is a problematic character but he learns from his mistakes, and definitely grows more mature throughout the book. I’m giving this 4 to 4.5 stars.

Book Review: The First Time I Died

The First Time I Died by Jo Macgregor – ebook, 413 pages

Thank you to Hidden Gems for providing me with a copy of this book in return for my review!
I expected this to be quite an angsty, sad and maybe romantic novel. While it did have some of these aspects, it turned out to be far more of a detective novel than I ever anticipated.
I hate including spoilers in my review, and this isn’t strictly a spoiler at all, but I found the anticipation leading up to the revelation of Colby’s murder to be fantastic. As the reader, we are slowly given tiny bits of information, glimpses into the past, as Garnet recalls his disappearance. And after finding out that he was, in fact, dead, I was absolutely hooked on finding out what happened.
Toward the end of the book, Garnet seems to link everything together pretty fast. I’m not sure if it was too fast, honestly, but it’s not a huge issue.
There was also a lot more behind his death than I’d ever anticipated, in terms of legalities and the family business. This was quite interesting, though in retrospect perhaps a little obvious.
The ending of this book was also nice – neat, satisfying, but not overly sweet. There was no big reunion between lovers. It just simply… ended.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this! A strong 4 stars.

If you’re interested in this book, check it out here on Goodreads, or head over to Smashbomb to read reviews and write your own!