fiction

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: 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: 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: 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.

Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Days of Sugar and Spice

Days of Sugar and Spice by Loïc Clément and Anne Montel – Published November 20th 2019 by Europe Comics

I thought this looked like a sweet, warming tale to read this festive season, and I was right! The art style was gorgeous, and it was such an easy read. It was a nice length, too, I felt; It wasn’t too long, but it was still long enough to develop the characters and story.
Rose Lemon lives in Paris but is summoned back to her childhood hometown at the news of her father’s death. She hasn’t seen or heard from her father in years – since she and her mother were kicked out of their home twenty years ago. Rose discovers that her father has left her his bakery, which she intends to sell immediately. But she finds herself slowly falling in love with the bakery, the village, and the people.

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

Of course, it isn’t easy. At first, Rose is extremely bitter, irritable and, quite frankly, rude. And then, later, she leaves her loved ones behind after a shocking discovery, before realising where her heart truly lies. But things eventually do work out: the ending was so sweet!
The art really was gorgeous, and I absolutely loved the little intervals with the cats! My only real issue was that Rose was rather horrible at first, and I feel like the others forgave her a little too easily. Still, at least she eventually changed her ways. 4.5 stars overall!

Book Review: Read Me Like A Book

Read Me Like A Book by Liz Kessler – Published May 14th 2015 by Indigo

Another short review. (Sorry; I promise there will be some proper ones coming along soon!)
This book is about a teenager called Ash. We follow her through the start and end of a relationship with Dylan, the separation of her parents, and a huge falling-out with her best friend, Cat. Alongside all of this, Ash fears she is pregnant, and also begins to question her sexuality – brought on by her odd feelings towards a new substitute teacher. Basically, she is having a really hard time.
All of these issues are important ones to bring awareness to. I’m not sure if all the themes were discussed to as much depth as they could have been, though; I guess having so much going on means you can’t go into as much detail. Still, I think they were all represented pretty well, though I don’t have much personal experience with most of these things.
It was a really easy book to read; I saw several people mention how they read it all in one sitting. LGBTQ+ books are always important, and the combination of topics addressed was really quite unique. 3.5 stars overall.

Book Review: Are We All Lemmings & Snowflakes?

Are We All Lemmings & Snowflakes? by Holly Bourne – Published August 9th 2018 by Usborne Publishing Ltd

I cannot believe it’s been four months since I read this book! Again, this will only be a quick review. I found this book at my local library and having read Holly Bourne before, I knew I’d enjoy it. It’s about mental health, too (as many of her books are), so that was another reason I picked it up.
Olive has had problems with her mental health for years but refuses to be told her diagnosis. She goes through phases of extreme ‘happiness’ (otherwise known as mania) followed by severe depressive episodes. When she’s offered a free place at an experimental new treatment centre, she is more than happy to accept. She doesn’t know exactly what’s wrong with her, but she’s desperate to find the cure.
While at the facility – called Camp Reset – Olive makes some interesting friends. She also finds herself in a manic state without even realising it, and focuses all her energy on an innovative algorithm she believes can cure or prevent mental illnesses. Of course, this leads to a huge crash, which prevents Olive from partaking in the grand finale of her and her friends’ plan to spread happiness.
Throughout her treatment, Olive goes through a lot of things. She faces rejection and learns to help others. She also begins to work on her attitudes towards herself.
The main thing I’ve got to say about this book is the relatability of it. The thoughts that Olive has, and the way they cycle round her head on repeat, were incredibly close to home. When something bad happens, her first reaction is to blame and hate herself. I related to her character so, so much in this way.
I also really liked how Olive is not the stereotypical ‘nice’ girl. She’s not quiet and quirky and lovable. She’s a bit of a bitch sometimes, quite frankly. But mental illnesses don’t give you a free pass to being a jerk. They often make people more of a jerk, honestly. It’s important to acknowledge this. It’s important to think about how your actions affect others, even though it’s hard when you don’t care about yourself or anything at all.
This was a fantastic portrayal of mental illness, and of recovery. It didn’t have a perfect ending – Olive acknowledges how she’s got so much farther to go, and that her journey to recovery is only just beginning. She also learns how there is no easy cure, which I think people forget sometimes. 4.5 stars!