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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.

2019 in Review

A new decade has officially begun! It’s crazy how fast 2019 went by. And what better way to welcome in the new year than by looking back at all the books I read last year? Plus, I’ll let you see some of the books I’m planning to read this year, too! (Not my whole TBR pile, of course – just the highest priority and imminent reads!)

You probably all know that Goodreads provides a Year in Books summary for users, with tons of cool statistics and highlights. If you’re interested in seeing what mine looks like, feel free to go check it out. Sadly, I did not reach my goal of 100 books, nor did I beat my record of 82 books read throughout 2017, but I did beat last year; I managed 58 books in total. That’s more than a book a week, so I guess that’s still pretty good!

Here are a few of the most noteworthy books that I read this past year, and a short summary of why I liked them so much:

  • The Dark Artifices trilogy by Cassandra Clare. I finished the first two and am partway through the third at the moment. I adored The Mortal Instruments series, and just love how these books follow a different group of characters, while still updating us on the original characters that we know and love. Seeing how everyone has grown up is just lovely, and I’m really growing fond of the new group, too. I’m invested in their issues, and I really feel their pain. The ending of Lord of Shadows near killed me; I’m still so shaken and sad.
  • The Astonishing Colour of After (which I reviewed here). An interesting angle on grief, with strong fantasy elements. The writing was just wonderful and the whole book was incredibly emotional.
  • The final two books in Alice Broadway’s Skin Books trilogy. (I loved the first one, too, but I read that in 2018 so thought it didn’t belong in this post.) A unique story, intriguing and exciting. The plot really did thicken throughout each of the books, and the series ended nicely, too.

And finally, here are some of the books I plan to read over the next year. I’m aiming for 100 books again, so I obviously won’t be listing them all here!

How many books did you manage to read this past year? Any particularly noteworthy? And what’s your goal for 2020? Do you have any specific books you’re planning to read?

I hope you all have a wonderful new year, and that everyone finds a new book love!

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: 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: 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: Little Darlings

Little Darlings by Melanie Golding – eBook, 336 pages Published April 30th 2019 by HarperAvenue

I am a huge fan of thriller, detective and suspense novels. I also adore fantasy elements, which this book incorporated fantastically.

Right from the very beginning, this novel creates a sense of unease and suspense. Even when Lauren meets her twin sons, I felt myself waiting for something to happen.

Throughout the novel are excerpts of folk tales, fairy-tales, rhymes and so on relating to changelings. So naturally, you expect something to happen within this area. It made it so much more exciting, like you are always waiting for something bad to happen.

What I especially liked about this novel was that it really blurred the lines between reality and fantasy or even the supernatural. I don’t want to ruin this for anyone who may read it, but the ending is somewhat open. It leaves space for your own interpretation; though certain things are strongly hinted at. All throughout the novel there is an ongoing debate as to whether the ‘case’ of Lauren Tranter is an actual criminal case, or simply a mental health case. I found this super intriguing.

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

Overall, this was a great book. The ending could be seen as somewhat unfulfilling, but I liked how it left some things to the readers’ own imagination. 4 out of 5 stars!

TRILOGY Review: The Firebird Chronicles

The Firebird Chronicles is a children’s/young adult fantasy series following two young Apprentice Adventurers, Scoop and Fletcher.

Rise of the Shadow Stealers (The Firebird Chronicles #1) by Daniel Ingram-Brown – eBook, Published January 25th 2013 by Our Street Books

The first book, Rise of the Shadow Stealers, follows the confused youngsters as they make sense of their surroundings. Neither has any memories of who they are or where they come from, and with the help of their mentor, the Yarnbard, they slowly piece together the story of their past.

Throughout the book, Scoop and Fletcher are held back by Grizelda, an evil old woman who’s determined to take control of the land. They are set monumental tasks by the mysterious Storyteller – the creator and controller of the world they live in. Grizelda desperately tries to prevent them from succeeding at every turn.

My immediate reaction to this book was that I was too old for it. I always emphasise the fact that children’s books can still be good books, enjoyed by any reader. This was, in all honesty, not fantastic. The plot wasn’t bad, and it wasn’t exactly hard to read, but the writing wasn’t particularly outstanding and there were tons of grammatical errors. One recurring mistake I noticed was the misuse of “passed” and “past”. Little things like that really affect how professional a book feels, or how immature the writing comes across.

2.5 stars for this book. The plot was okay, but the characters and speech were overly childish and didn’t feel authentic.

The Nemesis Charm (The Firebird Chronicles #2) by Daniel Ingram-Brown – eBook, Published May 27th 2016 by Our Street Books

The second instalment of this series is The Nemesis Charm. While this book had similar issues with character development, speech and grammar, I found it slightly better than the predecessor.

After rediscovering their identities, Scoop and Fletcher have settled into their lives and begun building a relationship with their parents. But of course, this calm does not remain for long. Soon, citizens are falling ill with a mysterious sleeping disease, the Storyteller’s Princess among them. Yet again, Scoop and Fletcher are tasked with saving everyone.

Grizelda continues to fight them at every step, while raising her own army and attempting to take control of the world (again). Scoop and Fletcher find themselves travelling with a Dark Pirate towards the Threshold, the Uncrossable Boundary to a mysterious world beyond.

There is also a whole other side to their story – the real Storyteller, if you will. A girl in Leeds called Libby, who is continuing the story her missing mother began.

I got strong Inkheart vibes from this series. The main difference was that this seemed a whole lot more immature, and amateurish, honestly. There were still so many mistakes, and Grizelda really felt like a typical children’s villain. I think this is supposed to be ‘cheesy’ and predictable to a certain extent, as it is playing on the idea of stories and heroes and so on, but it was hard to take it seriously at times.

2.5 to 3 stars for the second Firebird Chronicles book. It was alright, clever and exciting, but still had its faults.

Through the Uncrossable Boundary (The Firebird Chronicles #3) by Danial Ingram-Brown – eBook, Published November 30th 2018 by Our Street Books

The final book in this trilogy is called Through the Uncrossable Boundary. I think you can guess what that means.

In my opinion, this was the strongest book of the three. Again, it still had a fair few errors, but it was unpredictable and unique. Everything was finally explained in full, and the ending was tidy and satisfying. There was loss and heartbreak, and massive revelations.

Basically, Fletcher and Scoop end up in our world. While this is a little predictable, and some of the following events may be a little cheesy, I think it was quite good. It was a nice ending to the trilogy.

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

3 stars for the final book.

Book Review: The Silent Patient

I’m really glad I found this book – it was almost perfect for me! The narrator, Theo Faber, is a forensic psychotherapist, which is what I’m studying at uni starting this September! I will admit this possibly made the job out to be a lot more exciting and dramatic than it often is in reality, but pretty much every book on this topic does the same thing. It did include a fair amount of subject-specific terminology which I appreciated, but not so much that it was overwhelming or too much like a textbook.

I’m not going to discuss the plot much at all, as a) it’s really quite confusing, and b) I don’t want to ruin it at all for any potential readers. The bare bones of this is basically Theo working with Alicia Berenson, who was charged for the murder of her husband, but hasn’t talked since the day of his death. It’s almost a detective novel – Theo wants to find out what really happened, and why. At the same time, Theo has things going on in his personal life, and in his spare time he also follows ‘leads’ regarding Alicia’s case – her friends, family. It becomes more than just therapy, for sure.

As expected, there are twists and shocking discoveries – but I really did not expect one of these in particular. I found it fantastic; not cheesy or predictable at all.

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

My only criticisms are a few typos – which may be due to my copy only being an ARC – as well as the fact that some aspects were perhaps a bit overly dramatic. Theo’s actions at one point are really quite… drastic. Unbelievable, almost. But then, I suppose some people do handle things in similar ways.

4.5 stars for The Silent Patient.