April Reviews

Hello everybody! Today, I’m going to be reviewing all the books I read in April! Onto the books!


Skylarks by Karen Gregory (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

Skylarks is the story of a girl called Joni, whose family are being threatened with potential homelessness due to their housing being sold off and rent increased. At the same time, she meets mega-rich Annabel, and after a rocky start, a romance blossoms. First of all, I loved their relationship, particularly how much it developed, but also some very cute moments between them. It also allowed the theme of privilege to be explored, and show how having money and not having money might look. Though I was sometimes unsure of Joni as a character, I did enjoy her character as a whole, and I thought she was so strong and determined. I also really liked Annabel, whose life isn’t as wonderful as meets the eye initially; Joni’s brother Jamie, who was rebellious and bolshy but with a good heart underneath; and her naive little brother Jack, alongside her super supportive best friend Kelly. I was totally behind Jamie and Joni as they launched their campaign to halt the housing sales, and it was great to see teenage political activism so prominently. I was never sure how the story would end, and was quite sad to leave the characters even though I found the ending hopeful. 4/5

Artie Conan Doyle and the Vanishing Dragon by Robert J Harris (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

In his 2nd adventure, we follow Artie and his loyal best friend Ham as they are hired by a magician, whose huge comeback show has been plagued by constant disasters which could prove very dangerous, to solve this mystery and save the show. Artie and Ham’s friendship is lovely, and I enjoyed the banter bewteen them lots. In addition, I really liked the addition of Rowena to their team in this book, and am very much hoping she might be a permanent main character going forward. The colourful range of suspects provided plenty of entertainment, and provided a feeling akin to that of a classic mystery such as Enid Bylton’s Five Find-Outers. The culprit and their reason for commiting the crime came as a complete shock, yet still made sense, and overall I had a lot of fun with this and will pick up the next book.4/5

Just Plain Weird by Kaye Umansky and illustrated by Chris Mould (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

This is the story of Pinchton Primm, who has very strict, tidy parents, as the Weird family move in next door, Pinchton becomes involved with them and his life begins to change. The Weirds are as delightfully wacky as you’d expect and I so enjoyed reading about not only their actions but tje hilarious reactions it provoked in Mrs Primm. It was gentle, short and amusing and it made a very pleasant quick read, and it’s left me excited to try out the other Kaye Umansky books that have been loitering on my TBR for a while now. If you’re a fan of wordplay humour or tales of opposite lives colliding, this one’s perfect for you. 4/5

The Children of Castle Rock by Natasha Farrant

From the moment I caught sight of David Dean`s breathtaking cover, to when I turned the final page, I enjoyed every single bit of this book. It focuses on Alice Mistlethwaite, a girl still grieving for her mum who died a few years prior to when the book begins, as she is sent to an eccentric Scottish boarding school, and just as she is settling down and navigating new friendships, she receives a letter from her father asking her to meet him at a castle. Of course, she decides to use the school`s Great Orienteering Challenge as an opportunity to achieve this, and well, you`ll just have to read it to see what wonderful events unfold from there. The characters were so well drawn and realistic I felt like I could know them, and I love how complicated the friendship between Alice, Jesse and Fergus was. Each one felt so distinct, and I love the humour their actions and dialogue provide (there is one scene especially that made me howl with laughter). The 3rd person narrative style, which is like a person telling you a story, adds to both this humour and also the mystery of the incredibly intriguing plot, as we`re shown events elsewhere and are clued in on things the characters are oblivious to. Finally, I must mention the setting of Stormy Loch, which is a truly excellent piece of non-fantasy worldbuilding, as you really get such a vivid, three dimensional picture of the school (and I adore the wise major) This is like a cross of all my favourite bits of Blyton, but has its own fresh feeling and it`s become one of my top two favourite books of the year thus far. I`m desperately hoping for more MG in this vein from the author. 5/5

Seeker of the Crown by Ruth Lauren

In the sequel to a book I absolutely adored in 2017, Prisoner of Ice and Snow, we once again follow Valor as she embarks on a dangerous quest she is tasked with by a member of the royal family to find an escaped prisoner. When said member of the royal family disappears, Valor must also find them before the kindgdom of Demidova (which is really a queendom, but I’ll talk about that more soon) is brought to ruin. This is of course a thrilling adventure to follow, with masses of twists and turns and tantalising suspense. Though this book isn’t a heist narrative, we do still have the members of the team on board, and it was fabulous to see them again. I think Valor is incredibly cool and capable, obviously, but I also adore her quieter, more diplomatically minded sister Sasha and loyal yet outspoken Feliks. They work so well together, and I really like the team dynamic as a whole. Finally, I noticed the super awesome strands of feminism so much more in this book! While the female characters were amazing and I knew that from book one, I caught on to the fact Demidova’s line of succession was solely female so much more this time and it was surreal to see male members of the family lamenting the fact they can’t be monarch! I feel so lucky to have won a giveaway for a US copy of this, and I can’t wait till it comes out here so everyone can fangirl with me! 5/5


Flying Tips for Flightless Birds by Kelly McCaughrain

I had such a good time reading this contemporary YA, which tells the story of twins Finch and Birdie as a new boy Hector arrives at school and complicates their relationship, and Birdie’s fall from a trapeze jeapordises the already shaky future of their family’s trapeze. The characters were my absolute favourite thing; I initially found Finch prickly but adored him beyond words by the end as his narrative was full of wry humour that appealed hugely to me and I related to him in so many ways, I quite liked getting to see Birdie’s personality through her informative blog posts that taught me lots about circus life and Finch’s love interest Hector is super loveable in his own right. Even minor characters such as eccentric Lou and Py were wonderful, and added so much humour. The hints of mystery surrounding Birdie’s fall kept me totally hooked, and I was also deeply invested in Finch and Hector as a couple/the circus school’s success. I was rooting for both all the way through, and I was so immersed it felt bizarre to be back in the real world after finishing. 4.5/5

The Company of Eight by Harriet Whitehorn (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

I liked the sound of this as soon as I heard about it, and it lived up to my expectations. It focuses on Cass, who is desperate to become an acrobat on the Circus Boat, as she attempts to achieve this with disastrous results. Along the way, she encounters a different glamorous ship, some dangerous enemies and a mysterious group of sword-fighting women called the Company of Eight. I thought Cass was a fabulous heroine who I was totally rooting for, and I also had a huge soft spot for side characters Lion and Rip. Of course, the Company of Eight were incredibly cool, and I loved them. Other characters defied my expectations of them completely, making it very tricky to know who to trust, and there was more than one I loved to hate. The twists came thick and fast on other fronts too, so coupled with the short length it made this a very fast-paced, thrilling read. Finally, I thought the worldbuilding of the Longest World was superb. It not only showed both the luxury and opulent areas as well as darker, more dangerous aspects, but was also layered with fascinating history. I’m already looking forward to book two! 4.5/5

How to Write a Love Story by Katy Cannon (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

A new book from Katy Cannon is always exciting, and this was no exception. This is the story of Tilly, who is tasked with writing her bestselling romance author gran’s next novel, and decides she must fall in love for the first time in order to do this. It went right to the top of my TBR, and I read it in just a few days. It was so very readable: by which I mean that it practically turned the pages for me, as even though I worked out early on what would happen, I still wanted to see it play out on the page. I really liked Tilly as the narrator, and I identified hugely with her in quite a few ways. I also liked seeing her relationships with her friends (their dynamic was so fun), her romance with the love interest she ends up with and it was also interesting to see her relationship with her gran, particularly as it isn’t always positive. As well as the romantic ending and the humour, a final thing I enjoyed about this was how the book celebrated the idea that whatever type of book you enjoy most is valid, and that books percieved to be lighter aren’t something people should ever be looking down on. 4.5/5

Slay by Kim Curran (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

I love fantasy and I love boyband lit, so I was pretty sure I’d enjoy Slay, and I certainly did. I thought it fused the genres fabulously and contained pretty much everything I look for in both; excellent worldbuilding, a great cast, a glitzy feel and a romance (or two). The glamour of Slay’s life was so fun to read about, and I thought the fantasy worldbuilding was interesting and complicated, yet easy to understand. The plot moved along at a great pace, always leaving me excited to continue at the end of a chapter, and I liked the romances even though I’m not yet sure who I’ll ship. Finally, I adored the main cast; Milly was a phenomenal heroine, I loved that she was both booksmart AND streetsmart, and the the members of Slay were also fabulous as they all had very distinctive humour and personalities. Additionally, I could not agree more with Milly that the band’s manager Gail Storm is a complete and utter badass. I can’t wait to follow Slay to Tokyo, one of my favourite book settings ever, in the 2nd book! 4.5/5

Storm-Wake by Lucy Christopher (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

This tells the story of Moss, who lives on a secluded island with only her Pa, her dog Jess and a boy called Cal, as everything begins to change on the island after a storm brings in something very unexpected. While I mainly enjoyed the very descriptive language, I did find myself having to reread passages quite often as I was getting very confused and it did take a bit of getting used to, which is why I struggled to get into the book for a while. I thought the worldbuilding was interesting, liked the concept of stormflowers a lot, and also liked Aster and Jess, as they were great animal characters. I enjoyed Moss as the protagonist, though I didn’t really have an attachment to the other characters at all, but I did always want to keep reading even though I predicted the twist quite early on. I didn’t enjoy this as much as I’d hoped to, but if you prefer a more lyrical/unusual writing style and structure, and are perhaps more familiar with The Tempest (which this is a retelling of, of sorts) than I am, I think you’ll enjoy this more than I did, as it just wasn’t quite my bag. 3/5


Thank you so much for reading! What were your favourite books you read in April? Do you like any of the ones I’ve spoken about? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx

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Author: goldenbooksgirl

Middle grade/young adult book blogger

13 thoughts on “April Reviews”

    1. My friend Louise (www.bookmurmuration.wordpress.com) is also a huge fan, and wrote both a review and did an interview with Kelly if you want to see more! šŸ˜Š It’s fab, isn’t it?! I related to Finch so much x

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ve only read The Company of Eight so far from this selection, but have Storm-Wake and The Childen of Castle Rock from the library and have just bought Flying Tips for Flightless Birds. Looking forward to them!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely selection of books – and thanks for the mention in your comments! I love Flying Tips. Also enjoyed How To Write A Love Story and Storm-Wake, and have The Company Of Eight to read ASAP

    Like

  3. The Children of Castle Rock was recommended by Robin Stevens and Iā€™m desperate to find time to read it! Iā€™m so glad you gave it 5/5! Iā€™m currently reading Storm Wake so was really interested to read your review. Iā€™m teaching The Tempest next half term, so Iā€™m looking at it as a comparative read. A great selection of books as always Amy! X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I enjoyed the Bluebell Gadsby books, but this absolutely blew me away. It’s basically my dream book and it’s very easily up there with When the Mountains Roared as my joint favourite book of the year so far. Can’t wait to hear thoughts! X

      Liked by 1 person

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