Young Adult

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: 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: 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: 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.

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: 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!

Book Review: We Are Not Okay

We Are Not Okay by Natália Gomes – Published May 2nd 2019 by HQ Young Adult

I’m desperately trying to write up the reviews of all the books I’ve finished over the past few months before the end of the year. Hopefully, I’ll keep on top of things next year!
Now this book was fantastic at tackling multiple social issues in modern society – issues that many girls and women have to deal with. Some of the main themes are teenage pregnancy, having underwear pictures leaked on the internet, rape, and disordered eating. These things aren’t all experienced by one single character, but by multiple girls whose stories are intricately intertwined with one another. This book alternates between different characters’ accounts/narratives, and the reader slowly pieces together the bigger picture of how they all connect.
I found it really clever how Gomes did this, actually. She managed to really accurately portray how one small action can affect so many other people. She also explored how young girls have the ability to help each other when in need and can overcome petty differences and feuds in order to tackle the real, serious issues. This is something that I think is often forgotten but should be remembered by more young women. There is often too much bitterness and dispute amongst girls in schools when we should put more effort into uniting, standing together and helping each other through difficulties.

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

The ending of this book was quite shocking, too, but in a sadly realistic way. I won’t discuss it too much, though. I did still find it a little too neatly wrapped-up, in a way, though; not everyone responds so well, not all girls do forgive each other or become so close. Which is a shame, but it is the truth.
Overall, I’m giving this book 4 stars out of 5.