February Reviews

My reviews of all the books I read in February!

Hello everybody!

Today, I`m going to be sharing my reviews for the books I`ve read in February, and I`ve had a really good reading month despite not reading quite as much as I did in January. Onto the reviews!

Battle of the Beetles by M.G Leonard and illustrated by Karl J Mountford

Had you told me before I started them that I`d be such a fan of this series, I wouldn`t have believed you, but boy, am I a fan of this series. It started wonderfully with Beetle Boy in 2016, upped the ante with Beetle Queen last year, and has now concluded perfectly with Battle of the Beetles. If you`ve been living under a rock and haven`t heard of these books, they`re about a young boy called Darkus stumbling upon some very special beetles and his subsequent involvement in attempting to stop Lucretia Cutter, a scientist/fashion designer with dark intentions, from using them to wreak havoc on the world. The younger characters are as brave, funny and clever as always and guardian Uncle Max is an excellent adult figure, but the one I want to mention most of all is Lucretia Cutter, who is a masterclass in writing a villain. She is absolutely one you love to hate, but at the same time you can see why she is doing some of what she is (though she is of course, still evil, and I do not support her, to clarify!). This was a truly exciting adventure, and I stayed up until the early hours to finish it as I couldn`t go to sleep without knowing the ending. The final scene brought a huge smile to my face, and captured exactly why I love the main quartet of characters and these books so very much. 5/5

The Witch`s Blood by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr (received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

Picking up directly from the jaw dropping cliffhanger in book 2, this continues the story of teenage witch Merry as she and her friends/family tackle a new magical problem. First of all, Merry is a wonderful protagonist, and I thought she was even more strong and determined in achieving her aims in this instalment of the series. I loved the way in which her relationship with Finn developed, and I was rooting for them desperately to succeed in their romance despite the difficult situations they were in throughout the book. The secondary characters, most notably Merry`s lovely brother Leo and Finn`s cousin, who was introduced in this book, are also excellent additions to the cast, and I enjoyed the complicated dynamics of Merry`s coven, which is responsible for a lot of the conflict within the book, as well as a deeply horrible villain I don`t want to mention for fear of spoiling someone who hasn`t read the 2nd book yet! The ways in which the contemporary and fantasy elements intersect is really interesting too, and I also thought the magic system was fantastic as it both refers to back to elements we`ve seen in previous books and introduces new ones. I hadn`t expected the ending to go where it did, but it was a brilliant conclusion that`s left me looking forward to whichever of their secret projects Kate and Liz release next. 4.5/5

When the Mountains Roared by Jess Butterworth (received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

Given how much I loved Running on the Roof of the World, this book had to meet high expectations, and it most definitely did for me. It tells the story of Ruby, as her family move very suddenly from Australia to India, taking with them a collie dog called Polly and a smuggled kangaroo joey, and stumbling upon a sinister poaching plot on the mountains on their arrival. Ruby was a superb heroine, and I defy anyone not to love her; I thought she was incredibly brave both in her efforts to investigate/halt the poaching operation and in coming to terms with her grief and guilt over her mum`s tragic death prior to the beginning of the book. Another aspect of her I loved was her love for animals, which shone through on every page, as I really related to that feeling. On that note, the animal characters are beyond endearing and lovely, and I loved each and every one, including both of those I`ve mentioned already, a leopard cub, some adorable goats and several others. Another character who I absolutely have to mention is Ruby`s wise, witty and generally wonderful Grandma. Jess`s vivid, stunning prose brings the Indian setting to life in a way that makes you feel as if you`re in the world alongside the characters; experiencing every sense and emotion they are. I cried more than once reading this, and I could barely put it down during the time I spent with it as I just had to learn the fate of the characters as soon as possible. Yet another triumph from an author who is fast becoming an all time favourite of mine.5/5

Squirrel Meets World by Shannon and Dean Hale

In this prequel to the Squirrel Girl comics (which I`ve never read), we see Doreen Green using her powers for the first time as a villain decides to make her their adversary. First of all, while I did have mixed feelings on the books, I did quite enjoy it overall, and it was a fun plot. I loved the chapters narrated by Tippy Toe the squirrel and the worldbuilding of the squirrel community/world was fantastic, I was thrilled to see representation of a character with hearing aids in the form of Ana Sofia and Doreen`s texts where she attempts to seek advice from the Avengers about her budding superhero career with hilarious results that often made me smile. However, I struggled a bit with Doreen as a character, and I found some of the plot quite predictable, which meant I wasn`t always desperate to pick it up again to see what would happen next. I`m unsure if I`ll continue with this series, but even though not everything in this book was to my personal taste, I would still recommend this if you think it sounds like the sort of thing you`ll enjoy. 3.5/5

The Creakers by Tom Fletcher and illustrated by Shane Devries

I`m always wary of celebrity authors, but Tom Fletcher is one of the best I`ve read. His 2nd novel is the story of Lucy, as she wakes up one morning and discovers that all the adults in her town have disappeared, due to the mysterious Creakers. While I didn`t think it was quite as wonderful as in the Christmasaurus, I really enjoyed the worldbuilding, and the fact that the customs of the Creakers are so well explained. I liked the main trio, and thought the concept was fun, and I was rather surprised by one of the twists even though I saw a few others coming. I was also quite shocked by how sweet I found the Creakers (the majority of the time, anyway), which I put down to Shane Devries`s fantastic illustrations of them. A final thing I enjoyed about this was the way in which it`s narrated; by a sort of omniscient 3rd person narrator, who frequently breaks the fourth wall and addresses the reader. I`m looking forward to Tom`s next MG release already. 4/5

A Spoonful of Murder by Robin Stevens

As much as I love this series with every fibre of my being, I underestimated just how special it would be to return to the world of Daisy and Hazel. This instalment sees them journey to Hong Kong after a (natural) death in Hazel`s family, and on their return they learn that Hazel now has a brother, which could jeopardise her place in the family, and when he goes missing Hazel is not just the detective but a suspect. It was fascinating to see Hong Kong and be immersed in that culture, and the friendship between Hazel and Daisy is as gloriously complicated as ever. It was incredibly interesting to see Hazel as the one who understands the customs of the country and Daisy as the outsider, and I loved every single scene they share. They both shine as separate characters also; Hazel has developed so much from Murder Most Unladylike, and I feel so very proud of her with how well she handles everything she comes up against, as well as how kind and clever she is and it was lovely to see Daisy support her through her more vulnerable moments while retaining her usual humour and focus on catching the criminals. Finally, I thought the mystery was complex, and I adore the way the Robin drops enough clues to give you an idea of who is responsible, but throws in a twist you aren`t expecting too. This series goes from strength to strength every time, and I`m desperate for book seven already. 5/5

Artie Conan Doyle and the Gravediggers` Club by Robert J Harris

I was very intrigued by the premise of this series, as it focuses not on a younger version of Sherlock Holmes, but instead his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle. The story focuses on Artie and his friend Ham as they become embroiled in solving a mystery involving the rather horrible Gravediggers` Club. I found it interesting to learn more about his background and family, even though I`m not sure whether or not he really was a young sleuth. I thought the mystery was interesting and quite complex, and I loved the homages to Sherlock Holmes which pop up throughout. My favourite part of the book was definitely the friendship between Ham and Artie, especially as Ham isn`t a typical sidekick in that he doesn`t always just follow whatever Artie wants to do and stands up for himself, and also as I liked their bickering/banter. I would have liked this to be a little bit longer, but I think it`s a good start to the series and I look forward to reading the next. 4/5

Secrets of a Teenage Heiress by Katy Birchall

This is the start of a new series focusing on Flick, the future heiress of the luxury Hotel Royale, as she is grounded just as the world`s most famous popstar arrives for a stay, though that doesn`t stop her for long, of course! I adore concepts like this, and this book was no exception; I found it glamourous, hugely enjoyable and the perfect escapist reading I needed when I read it. The hotel is a phenomenal setting, which I really enjoyed learning more about alongside Flick, as this is her punishment during her grounding, and thought was a great example of contemporary worldbuilding. Flick was a complex character, and it was fascinating to see so many sides of her as I was reading, and her development was wonderfully written. I also loved almost every member of the side cast (except those you`re not meant to), though special mentions must go to β€œannoying” concierge`s son Cal (who had a fab sense of humour), Flick`s super sweet friend Grace and her stroppy, Instagram superstar daschund Fritz, who was beyond hilarious. It was really cool to see a few people from the It Girl books too. I was so happy to learn I only have a few months to wait on the sequel after finishing this, especially as I think a love triangle of sorts is being foreshadowed in this, and I`m both excited to see how those relationships develop and declare my allegiance ship wise! 5/5

Hounds and Hauntings by Janine Beacham

In her 3rd adventure, Rose and her companions must work to discover what (or who) is committing murders in Yorke in the way a legendary beast called the Barghest was rumoured to. I think Rose is an excellent detective, I loved the more prominent role Orpheus was able to play in this book, and the butlers were as magnificent as ever. It was also great to see some familiar secondary characters from the previous books. The mystery was very intriguing, with a conclusion I didn`t see coming at all, and as things felt much higher stakes I was rather worried about how everything would play out, leaving me glued to the book so I could find out. Something else I adore about these books, alongside all I`ve previously mentioned and the brilliant worldbuilding of Yorke (which is a historical/fantasy blend), is the sense of humour, which I find fabulous. I`m very hopeful this won`t be the last I see of Rose, Orpheus and the Silvercrest Hall butlers, as I think this series is super underrated, but if it is, this was an excellent conclusion. 4.5/5

Movie Night by Lucy Courtenay

Movie Night tells the story of best friends Hannah and Sol (who is in love with Hannah) as they make a New Year`s Resolution to watch a film together every month, and their feelings towards each other begin to change. First of all, I really liked and sympathised with the feelings of both main characters even though I slightly preferred Sol`s chapters, and I thought the supporting cast (especially Sol`s very humorous dads Andrew and Gareth, and his rather hilariously violent cat Nigel) were brilliant. I also enjoyed the dialogue between characters, which was brilliant and felt realistic, and I particularly liked Sol and Hannah`s scenes, as well as those between Lizzie and Hannah I was so pleased with the choices of films, as it not only featured two of my top five favourites, but reminded me of several others I want to see, and introduced me to a few I haven`t heard of that I may now seek out. I found this a bit slow paced in places, but I thought it was a super fun YA contemporary overall, and the ending made my heart happy in the exact way a good romcom does. 4/5

A Witch Alone by James Nicol (received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review)

In the long awaited sequel to The Apprentice Witch, James Nicol transports us back to Lull, to catch up with the now fully qualified Arianwyn as she takes on a dangerous secret mission from the High Elder. It was even better than the first book, and Arianwyn is still a brilliant main character. I especially like that we see her make mistakes in her role and her friendship with Salle, as it shows she isn`t perfect, and is a lovely message. The development and new challenges of Arianwyn and Salle`s aforementioned friendship feel realistic, but I love that they`re also always there for each other when they really need it. Other characters I thought were amazing were the feylings and Arianwyn`s lovely moon hare Bob. The plot was engaging and fun, and some scenes were rather intense, and I really felt this had a darker edge than the Apprentice Witch while maintaining the cosy, charming feeling that made me fall in love with that at the same time. After the shocking turn of events towards the end, I`m desperate to get my hands on book 3, and very, very hopeful it won`t be released with as long a gap as this one way. 4.5/5

The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson (received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review)

In her enchanting debut novel, a reimagining of the Russian Baba Yaga folk tale, Sophie Anderson tells the story of Marinka, who lives in a house with chicken legs with her grandmother Baba Yaga and is destined to become a Guardian and guide the dead through the Gate, but wants to escape that fate and live a normal life. This premise was so original, and I`m not sure whether this is only as I don`t know the folk tale, but some of the revelations that come about in this were so unexpected they made me gasp aloud. The prose of this book is completely stunning, almost poetic, and my heart absolutely broke for Marinka at some points as her first person narration meant I felt as though I was experiencing everything she goes through alongside her, and at times I felt as though I was going to cry (and if I`m honest, I did. More than once). Her animal companions Jack and Benji were so sweet, and I thought the supporting cast, especially the Old Yaga and Benjamin, were wonderful additions. However, my absolute favourite character in this book, which doubles as an incredibly vivid, unusual setting, was the house itself, which I feel has a personality and behaves like a character, and I had a lot of affection toward her. This is such a heartwarming, all round excellent read, and I`d definitely recommend picking up a copy after this is released. 5/5

Thank you so much for reading! Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Have I convinced you to read any? I`d love to hear from you in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl.

Amy xxx

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Author: goldenbooksgirl

Disabled book blogger who also writes TV, film, music and other posts from time to time | UKYABA Champion Teen 2018 | Email: goldenbooksgirl@gmail.com | she/her

10 thoughts on “February Reviews”

  1. I am just about to start The Witch’s Kiss trilogy and The Spoonful of Murder series so glad to hear your recommendation. Also, got Battle of the Beetles from the library! Really enjoy reading your mini reviews πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really enjoyed the creakers – Tom’s books are written really well, and I’ve enjoyed all the books of his I’ve read! I’ve been wanting to read the beetle series for a while now, heard a lot about them!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fantastic reviews – I loved A Spoonful of Murder and A Witch Alone too. I’ve added all the rest of these to my TBR list – I’m especially looking forward to the the Jess Butterworth as I loved Running on the Roof of the World (I can’t resist a book with mountains in!)

    Liked by 1 person

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