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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.

Book Review: The Darkest Bloom (Shadowscent #1)

The Darkest Bloom (Shadowscent #1) by P.M. Freestone – Paperback, 448 pages – Published February 7th 2019 by Scholastic

This was another book I picked up from the library at random. The cover was beautiful, and the idea of scent-based magic was certainly intriguing. While it was a decent book, it didn’t quite live up to my hopes and expectations, sadly.

Most of the book follows Rakel as she tries to make enough money to purchase a cure for her father’s Rot. She has an expert sense of smell, meaning she is a fantastic perfumer, distilling her own creations and experimenting with different methods. But she becomes the suspect for a horrendous crime that leaves the Prince in a coma, and so she flees.

Ash is the Shield of the Prince, and his best friend. He doesn’t believe Rakel is to blame, however, and believes she holds the key to curing him. So he runs away with her, searching for a place that may not exist, and hunting down valuable ingredients for a poison that nobody even knows about.

I found this book quite slow at the start. It just didn’t excite me. There was nothing wrong with it, but it just wasn’t right. However, towards the end there was a far more exciting plotline added, involving Ash. The cliffhanger ending left me actually wanting to read on.

While I didn’t love this, there were definitely some good aspects. It was unique for sure, and I do think there’s a lot of potential for the rest of the series. 3.5 stars!

Graphic Novel/Manga Review: Deep Scar Volume #1

Deep Scar Volume #1 by Rosella Sergi – ebook, 217 pages

I received a copy of this via Edelweiss+ so thanks so much to everyone who gave me that chance!

I’m going to be honest and say that I don’t actually have that much to say about this book. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though!
In this volume, Sofia moves into her new flat as she starts university. Her parents are pretty strict and this is the most freedom she’s ever had. Her boyfriend isn’t all that happy about her flatmates, and her parents wouldn’t be either, if they knew what they were like. But Sofia has been looking forward to this her whole life, and is determined to enjoy it.


One of her flatmates, Lorenzo, gives very mixed signals. One minute he’s shouting at her, and the next he’s drunkenly hugging her and defending her to others. The last part of this volume, where Lorenzo becomes more protective of Sofia, really started to draw me in. I wanted to find out more about his strange behaviour, what it is about Sofia that makes him act so different.

I’m giving this 4 stars, as the second half intrigued me so much.

Book Review: Under Rose-Tainted Skies

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall – Paperback, 272 pages – Published July 7th 2016 by Chicken House

I picked this book up at my local library because I liked the cover. Then I read the quote on the front and knew I’d love it.

Agoraphobia is a horrific disorder. I’ve not found a single book about it before this one. While I myself don’t suffer from it, I do have anxiety and can relate to the main character, Norah, in so many ways.

The first thing I’m going to say about this is that it doesn’t overly romanticise the illness, which is so important. Yes, there are maybe a few aspects that aren’t incredibly accurate, but that’s always going to happen with works of fiction. Overall, I think this is a fantastic representation of Norah’s illnesses and how her life has been flipped upside down since her becoming ill.

I would have liked this to be less romantically-focused, though. Don’t get me wrong, the romance was lovely and I felt so happy for Norah. But I am a bit fed up of stories that portray romantic relationships as the ‘cure’ for mental illnesses.

As I mentioned above, I believe this depicts Norah’s behaviours and thoughts fantastically. I really related to her in a lot of ways, such as regarding her anxiety and panic attacks. Plus, her beliefs and emotions regarding her illness were very relatable; the guilt and shame of being a burden on others.

It was incredibly heart-warming to see Norah finally begin to make progress towards the end of the book. It was slow – which is how it is in real life. There is no magic, instant cure. It takes time and effort and a lot of pain.

I thoroughly enjoyed this. If it was less romantic, I may have given it a full 5 stars. As it is, I’m giving it 4.5 stars, and would definitely recommend it to others.

Book Review: As Far as the Stars

As Far as the Stars by Virginia Macgregor – Kindle Edition, 384 pages – Published April 18th 2019 by HQ Young Adult

This was another one of those books I read without knowing anything about. I knew the genre, and I’d seen the cover, but that was it. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it this way, and so I’ll try not to spoil anything for potential readers.

The book is narrated by a teenage girl called Air, who is on her way to pick her brother Jude up from the airport. Their sister is about to get married, but Jude tends to mess things up so Air is trying to figure out where exactly he is. Their mother is getting worried about them turning up late, but Air is sure that it will work out – Jude always fixes things just in time.

When at the airport, Air meets Christopher. He’s waiting for his dad, who’s flight has been delayed. But then news comes in of the plane being missing, so Air decides to drive Christopher to his mum’s. The problem is, he hasn’t seen her for years.

Amongst all the confusion and stress and grief, Air and Christopher (and Jude’s dog) begin to enjoy each other’s company. They take several pit-stops along the road, despite the urgency of the situation, and actually find themselves having fun.

The end of the novel was fantastic, full of emotion. It was resolved beautifully with the epilogue. However, I did have a few issues throughout the majority of the book. Firstly, I found it to be a bit repetitious. Air went over the same thoughts several times, which made sense in some cases as she was anxious and scared, but happened a little too much for my liking. I also found her to be a little too dramatic; for example, when Christopher finally told her about his dad, she got incredibly upset. I don’t really understand why. It wasn’t Christopher’s fault. It didn’t change anything. If anything, she should have felt more sympathetic for him.

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

I also noticed quite a few typos and missing words, but that may just have been because I have a review copy and not the final publication.
Overall, I’m giving this 4 stars. The ending really made the book for me.

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.