September Reviews

Hello everybody! 

Today I’m sharing my reviews of all of the AMAZING books I’ve read in September (except for the few I really didn’t enjoy). Let’s get onto the reviews! 😊😊

Going Viral by Amy Alward (recieved from the publisher via Toppsta)

In the 3rd and final instalment of the Potion Diaries trilogy, we see our alchemist heroine Sam attempt to save Princess Evelyn from a mysterious virus and her new husband Stefan (who I found a seriously menacing villain). This book felt a lot darker to me than books one and two, somehow and I found it totally gripping as I read the book in a day. Alward builds the tension of the mystery perfectly and expertly lets the reader in on information throughout, and it`s really interesting to read a POV fully aware of the situation and the dangers and one who is totally in the dark (this was nailbiting material for me at points!). This book also continued to be a fabulous blend of contemporary and fantasy, with a wonderful heroine whose strength and determination I really admired. Finally, I loved the side characters, and even though I had predicted something quite different I liked the ending a lot. 4.5/5
The Matilda Effect by Ellie Irving
In her latest novel, Ellie Irving tells the story of aspiring inventor Matilda as she journeys to Switzerland with her Granny Joss to get the Nobel Prize which has been stolen by a man, but rightfully belongs to her gran! This is delightfully silly and has such a colourful, zany cast of characters who really had me giggling throughout. I thought many of the people Matilda and Granny meet along the way celebrated the good in humanity, no matter how hidden it may be. I was thrilled to learn more about females in STEM through this book, and I feel it balanced the feminist message and Ellie Irving`s glorious sense of humour wonderfully. If you`re looking for a 21st century version of Roald Dahl`s Matilda, look no further. 4/5
The Starlight Barking by Dodie Smith 

In the follow up to one of my favourite children`s classics, Dodie Smith tells the story of the delightful Dalmatian gang as they wake up one morning and discover that all the humans across the world are asleep, and they set off for London to try and solve the problem. This is very much a sci-fi story, which I hadn`t really expected, but it maintained the gentle, charming loveliness that made me fall in love with The One Hundred and One Dalmatians and I had a lot of fun reading the Starlight Barking too. It was amazing to see all of the characters from book one again and to see how some of them, like Cadpig, have changed while others, like absolutely precious Roly have stayed just the same, although they`re all as loveable as ever. Finally, I think both of these books would be really accessible for any children wanting to get into classics as they`re quite short and are at their heart just lovely stories about animals, adventure and the love between humans or their pets (or the other way around πŸ˜‰ ).
The Dragon With a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis

This book is an absolutely delicious read from page one; what more could you want in a book than a feisty but likeable heroine, some dragons and yummy sounding chocolate? This tells the tale of Aventurine, a dragon who gets turned into a chocolate obsessed human by a sneaky food mage, and her struggle with adjusting to human life as she begins work in a chocolate house. This was a very relaxing, escapism read as while the plot moves along at a steady pace and I was most certainly never bored, it wasn`t packed with action and I was never confused by anything that happened. It was also hugely funny in places, and I especially adored Aventurine`s family (especially her grandfather!) as they added so much humour and I`m sure many readers will be able to identify with her sibling rivalries and feeling inferior to her siblings. This reads like the absolute best sort of Disney film in book form (I`d love a film version) and I`m looking forward to the companion novel next year! 4.5/5
The Great Chocoplot by Chris Callaghan

In his debut novel, Chris Callaghan tells the story of Jelly and her family, who live in the town which produces/consumes the most chocolate, and the madness which ensues when a news programme declares that chocolate will cease to exist in just 5 days` time. Jelly decides to investigate and soon finds that the `Chocopocalypse` is perhaps not such a natural disaster after all… I thought Jelly was an amazing heroine and is a realistic role model for younger readers as while she`s brave, she also has a lot of anxious moments throughout and manages to persevere even though she`s afraid. I also thought it was excellent to see working class representation as that is the reality for a lot of young people in the UK. Finally, I thought the subtle mocking of social media hysteria was really interesting and also quite amusing in places. 4/5

The Lights Under the Lake by Sophie Cleverly

In the 4th book of the Scarlet and Ivy series, Sophie Cleverly managed to ensnare me completely from page 1. We follow the twins and some of their friends (and enemies) as they go on a school trip, where sinister incidents begin to take place and suspicion falls on Rose, who rarely speaks. The characters in these books just jump off the page (especially Scarlet, who I love) and I think they`re all well described and feel realistic whether they`re good, bad or in between. Another thing I was very impressed by was that it was really easy to tell whether it was Scarlet and Ivy speaking in the dual narrative without having to check, which I don`t find is often the case. I thought the mystery was excellent as I was initially incredibly smug as I thought the solution was obvious but Sophie Cleverly totally prove me wrong after some spectacular twists towards the end, which left me unable to put this down. I`m so excited to read the newly released the Curse in the Candlelight soon! 5/5

Defender of the Realm: Dark Age by Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler

In an excellent follow up to Defender of the Realm, we continue to follow Alfie, the new king as he negotiates his new royal duties, especially his role as the secret superhero Defender who fights against the mythical monsters who were the real causes of historical disasters. I loved how Huckerby and Ostler expanded this world in this instalment, particularly when we got to meet royals from another country. I also grew even more attached to Alfie, his friend Hayley and the rest of the crew at the Keep (LC always make me chuckle). I thought the development of Alfie`s brother Prince Richard in this book was phenomenal, particularly as he was such a minor character in book one. This was absolutely action packed, so much so I got a bit muddled about what was happening at some point and I`m really crossing my fingers for film versions as it reads like watching a superhero film. After the dramatic ending, I cannot WAIT to get hold of book 3 next year. 4.5/5

Worry Angels by Sita Brahmacari and illustrated by Jane Ray ( sent to me by publisher in exchange for my honest review)

In this novella for Barrington Stoke, Sita Brahmachari tells the story of Amy-May who has begun to suffer from anxiety after her parents divorce and how she goes to Grace`s art school instead of secondary and meets Rima, a Syrian refugee. Rima`s story was heartbreaking and I loved that this book showed her family as real people, not a problem for the country. Even though they couldn`t initially speak to one another, I still loved her friendship with Amy-May and how it developed throughout. While I did find the writing hard to adjust to at first, it`s absolutely stunning, and I also adored the hopeful, heartwarming ending for the girls. Finally, Jane Ray`s interior illustrations are beautiful and really enhance the story. 4/5

The Taken by Inbali Iserles

In this novel, Inbali Iserles tells the story of fox cub Isla as her whole family go missing and her journey to try and find them. This story is so well written and has vivid description, and I love that Iserles has created a language and full world of their own for foxes as it was so interesting, and it really reminded me of the wonderful Warriors series (which Iserles was a ghostwriter for) in this respect. The glossary at the back was super helpful to keep track of all the different aspects of the worldbuilding. Isla is a wonderful narrator and I felt so sorry for her throughout the book. I also adored her companion Siffrin, who I`m very much hoping to see again in the Elders. I thought that this book perfectly balanced quieter scenes and action scenes, and managed to build tension and drama constantly so that I was always looking forward to picking it up again. The only thing I found slightly confusing were the flashback scenes as even though I loved seeing them it was difficult to tell when it was happening. 4.5/5

The Summer of Telling Tales by Laura Summers

This is the touching and at times frankly terrifying story of sisters Ellie and Grace as they and their mum escape to the seaside from a life of horrific abuse at the hands of their dad. It was so incredibly heartwarming to watch them build new lives for themselves and while I didn`t always understand Ellie`s actions I still liked and sympathised with her, despite preferring Grace`s POV. The sisters were very unique and it would have been easy to tell who was speaking even without the clear formatting. Alongside Grace, I also loved side character Ryan who was so sunny and optimistic, and really supported Grace throughout the novel. This book was such an emotional rollercoaster; I didn`t stop crying once throughout (not joking here), but those were with joy and sadness, and my heart was completely in my mouth during some scenes toward the end. This story and these characters are going to stay with me for a long time and even though it`s now a few years old I`d really recommend trying to get a copy. 5/5

The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy ( recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

In her captivating debut, Emily Bain Murphy tells the story of Aila as she moves to a town called Sterling, where an important sense or ability disappears once every seven years (fo example, colouring in). I was enraptured by the world Bain Murphy builds, and I loved the prose, which is stunning but never crosses into being β€œpurple”. I also found Aila to be a wonderful character: she was complex and relatable, but still likeable as our narrator. I loved the sibling relationship of Aila and her brother Miles as it was so sweet but felt realistic and I enjoyed Aila`s romance with Will too. I didn`t really understand the chapters in italics but I otherwise really enjoyed this simmering, slow-building magical realism mystery which felt nothing quite like anything I`ve ever read before. 4/5.

Alex Sparrow and the Really Big Stink by Jennifer Killick (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

In this delightful middle grade adventure, we`re told the story of Alex as he develops a strange superpower with an even stranger (and definitely stinker!) side effect. I loved this a lot. Alex is a truly loveable main character and his friend Jess was fabulous too. They worked really well as a duo and the banter between them was just brilliant. Their bickering was the source of a lot of giggles throughout this book, and I especially found the scenes with Bob the goldfish hilarious! The superhero plot is fun and silly, with a few twists I didn`t actually expect but I also really liked the way the book shows some of the realities of primary school life too, and how difficult friendships can be at that age. I`m already excited for Alex`s second adventure! 4.5/5

Truly Madly Awkward by Beth Garrod

In the 2nd Bella Fisher book, we see Bella navigate friendship difficulties, her budding romance (or is it?) with Adam, a radio competition that`s piling on the pressure to win a gig from her favourite band for her school and her mum`s new business venture. While I struggled to adapt to the writing style a little at first, once I adjusted I thought the plot was fun and I definitely found myself chuckling constantly throughout! I really liked the radio competition, which was the main plot point of the novel, and I was seriously rooting for Bella to do well and defeat her mysterious rival `Letty`. I also loved how much the characters developed throughout this instalment; I feel like I got to know Bella`s friends much better and got quite attached to them, and I developed a major love for her big sister Jo, who was basically my favourite thing about this book as she was so witty and snarky, but also had Bella`s best interests at heart deep down. My other highlight was the super sweet romance between Bella and Adam and how that progressed in this book. I`m looking forward to reading more from Garrod in the future, and hopefully seeing Bella`s world grow and expand even more. 4/5 

The Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud

This was pretty much everything I could have hoped for in the finale to one of my most beloved series; a witty, adventurous romp through the alternate version of London I`ve come to know and love with characters I couldn`t love any more if I tried. This book sees the team tackle a very spooky supernatural case in a theatre (do not, as I did, try to read the scenes with this ghost in them by candlelight. You will only terrify yourself.) and also face off against the formidable Fittes agency once and for all. The book moves at an excellent pace and I totally tore through it, and I was so happy that all of the characters were at their very best for their last outing. The Skull, undoubtedly my favourite character, had me cackling at some of his comments. These books are honestly worth reading just for him! Finally, I was very satisfied by the ending, even though a part of it made me cry quite considerably. If you haven`t picked up this series yet, I highly recommend them, even if you aren`t usually into this sort of book. I`m not, and this has become one of my favourite series of all time over the years. 5/5

It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne

In her newest release, Holly Bourne tells the story of Audrey and Harry as they meet and fall in love, but for real, not the way it happens in all the movies. Real love and romance film love being vastly different is the theme of Audrey`s Media project and I really liked the paragraphs exploring different aspects of this at the start of some chapters, and also the general exploration of the topic throughout the book as it offered a balanced view on the subject. I thought the characters were amazing; Audrey is so relatable and nuanced and cynical and generally just a wonderful lead (I felt so much sympathy for her family problems and worries about her life throughout, and wanted to give her a massive hug), and even though we aren`t probably meant to I utterly adored Harry too. Their bosses at the cinema, Lou Lou and Ma, were the perfect side characters; supportive to the prontagonists and offering us some fabulous comic relief in places too. Finally, I liked the ending in terms of Audrey and Harry`s relationship even though I hadn`t expected it to go that route, and although I do wish we`d found out whether Audrey was going to proceed with further studies in Media or Drama, this was a superb contemporary that I think a lot of people are going to love. 4.5/5


Thank you so much for reading! What did you think of these books, if you’ve read any? What were your favourite books of September?  I’d really love to hear in the comments below! 

See you soon with a new post 

Amy xxx 

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Author: goldenbooksgirl

Middle grade/young adult book blogger

12 thoughts on “September Reviews”

    1. It really was an amazing month last month for reading, and I’m super pleased with the amount I got through too 😊
      I don’t really tend to write reviews for books I really hate/DNF though, so pretty much all the reviews on here are 3 stars and above ❀ (my number is also sometimes a little lower depending on how soon after end of month I publish post as I schedule ahead and miss off the last week sometimes πŸ˜‰πŸ™ˆ)
      Hope you enjoy any of these that you pick up x

      Like

  1. How did you manage to read so many books Amy!!! You read so many books and I was unsure whether to read Holly ourne’s new book but I decided based on your review that I will certainly be picking it up! It sounds really interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

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