September Reviews 2018

Hello everybody! Today, I`m going to be sharing my reviews for the books I read in September. Onto the post!

Peril in Paris by Katherine Woodfine and illustrated by Karl James Mountford

In the first of the new Taylor and Rose, Secret Agents series, we follow Sophie and Lil two years on from the Sinclair`s quartet now that they primarily work on cases for the Secret Service Bureau as spies. It`s told in third person, but we see sections set in two separate places, because the girls are apart for the vast majority of the book, and I enjoyed that a lot. While I love Sophie and Lil`s friendship when they`re sharing scenes, seeing them apart made me appreciate their individual strengths even more, and I adored that it was really clear that they missed each other. Another thing I liked about the dual perspective was that the chapters, which alternated, often ended on a cliffhanger, and I found the events of both so exciting that this was just unputdownable at a lot of points. I was a big fan of Anna, who we initially follow in one perspective, and it was great to see so many cameos of the cast of Sinclair`s throughout. Best of all, Katherine Woodfine`s elegant and incredibly detailed writing style is as wonderful as ever, and it created such vivid pictures of the settings for me. I`m so excited to see where Taylor and Rose will go next, and what will unfold there. 5/5

Warrior Boy by Virginia Clay (received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review)

This is the story of Ben, a boy who lives in London with his documentary-maker mum and feels like he doesn`t fit in, as he and his mum travel to Kenya so she can make a documentary about poaching and Ben can meet his deceased father`s family who are part of the Maasai tribe. Ben was a great character, and I loved his friendship with his cousin Kip once he arrived and the dialogue between them provided some great humour amongst some more serious aspects to the book. I also enjoyed the development of his relationships with the other new family members he meets, especially his grandfather. I loved learning about the Maasai culture and their customs, and the African setting was fantastic, as was the discussion surrounding poaching. The climax, in which the final confrontation with the poachers takes place, was beyond thrilling; I was on the edge of my seat and I had no idea what would happen until the resolution. 4.5/5

The Trouble With Perfect by Helena Duggan (received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review)

This is the sequel to last year`s A Place Called Perfect, and it picks up a few months after Perfect, where all of the residents had been brainwashed by the Archer twins, has morphed into the much friendlier, happier Town that`s governed by a democratic council. That is, of course, until a spate of strange crimes happen, and main character Violet`s best friend Boy is accused of them. I love the trope of a main character being framed, and this was no exception, and it was so intriguing watching the mystery unfold and discovering what really happened that was making people think this. Violet was as brave as ever, and I loved that her belief in Boy`s innocence rarely wavers, despite everyone else believing he really is guilty, as it made me love their friendship and how strong it is even more. I also enjoyed the new additions of Jack and Anna, and I thought both the returning villains of the Archers and the new foes introduced in this instalment were super sinister. The climax was thrilling, and I ended up crying at an unexpected loss that came at the end too, and the last few chapters and teaser at the back have me very interested in what will happen come book three. If you`re looking for a spooky read for this time of year, this would definitely be a good one to pick up. 4.5/5

You Only Live Once by Jess Vallance (received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review)

In the first of this new YA contemporary series, we are introduced to Gracie Dart, who decides that she needs to stop hiding in her house studying and instead go out and have interesting experiences after a (not quite, but perceived) life-threatening situation. Gracie is a great protagonist, as her narration is often hilarious and she`s so likeable that I was totally rooting for her all the way through even though she didn`t always make the best of decisions, and does some questionable things. Other Gracie`s narration, I also found her family really funny and the name of her younger brother`s giraffe and her coming out scene had me cackling particularly loudly. Her family were such great characters and I loved their family dynamic, and I also thought Gracie`s friendship with Tilly was lovely as the book went on. On the more serious side of things, the discussions around exams and feeling pressure to do well and know exactly what you want to do when you leave school were so interesting, and relatable in a lot of places for me. While I did find this slow paced in places, particularly just after Gracie makes friends with Vicky and Spider, overall, I had a lot of fun reading it and I`m looking forward to the next instalment. 4/5

Snowglobe by Amy Wilson (received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review)

In her 3rd novel, Amy Wilson tells the story of Clementine, a daydreaming misfit who is bullied at school as she enters a magical house filled with snow globes that trap magicians, and must put herself inside them to use her newly discovered magic to rescue one of her bully`s friends, Dylan, who doesn`t actively torment her but doesn`t try to stop his friend Jago from doing so either. I found the dynamic between them really interesting, and I enjoyed the alliance they formed to improve their chances of escaping the snow globes and the friendship that followed later. I absolutely loved Clementine as a character and I really sympathised with her situation at school, so it was really wonderful to see her become more confident in herself as the book went on and I loved how kind and clever she was too; I honestly can`t quite put into words how much I admired her. Ganymede, the keeper of the house, was so enigmatic and interesting that getting to learn more about her was great too, and I adored Helios, who is one of the sweetest, most loving animal companions I`ve seen in a while. The magic system of the snow globes was so unique, and the gradual reveal of information about them was something else I really enjoyed, particularly the sections that flash back to when Ganymede was young and her two sisters still lived in the house with her. My favourite part of Snowglobe, however, was definitely the writing style. It was so lyrical and it was perfect for magical realism since it conjures the images of what the house and the snow globes would be like amazingly, as well as being vivid in its description in the sort of way that meant I got totally swept up in the world and could almost forgot I was in the real world a lot of the time, as I truly felt as if I was there beside Clementine, Dylan and Helios and experiencing everything too. If you`re looking for a wintry read to curl up with under a blanket on a chilly day, look no further. 4.5/5

A Tangle of Magic by Valija Zinck and translated by Helen Jennings (received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review)

In this magical adventure, we follow Penelope, whose grey hair has suddenly turned red and who has just discovered that the absent father she`s never known was a wizard and she has magic too. This is the story of her learning about her new gift and searching for her father, and there`s something about the writing style that reminded me of reading authors like Enid Blyton and E. Nesbitt, as it has such a cosy, nostalgic feel to it. I also really liked the worldbuilding and the different elements of Penelope`s magic, especially her being able to chat with the road (who was a great character) and her ability to fly, though I do wish we`d gotten to learn more about the magical community and how everything worked. Finally, I really appreciated how good the translation from German seemed to be. While German isn`t one of my languages, I do study two and so know how tricky getting smooth translations for passages can be, so I found how natural the language sounded in English really impressive. 4/5

The Great Sea Dragon Discovery by Pippa Goodhart (received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review)

This is the story of Bill, whose family are experiencing difficult circumstances such as his mum being ill and his dad losing his job, and what happens when he discovers a fossil after starting his new job at the coprolite diggings, which he takes to support his family. It takes place in Grantchester in 1860, and it was fascinating to discover how different people reacted to the discovery of dinosaurs, which I`d never been aware of before and something this book demonstrates really well. I also really liked Bill as he was so well-meaning and really cared about his family, despite making mistakes, and his friendship with Alf was fantastic- I hadn`t expected to like Alf given his behaviour at the beginning of the book but my opinion had completely changed by the end, even though I still don`t quite understand why he behaved that way to begin with. The plot is well paced with lots going on, and I`d recommend this to anyone looking for a book about an area of history that isn`t looked at often (at least not that I`ve ever seen before!). 4/5

A Darkness of Dragons by S.A Patrick (received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review)

This is the story of Patch Brightwater, a trainee Piper who has been sent to prison for playing illegal magical songs that put people in danger, as he learns that the evil Piper of Hamelyn has escaped and he teams up with dracogriff Barver and Wren, a girl who has been cursed to live a rat to set off on a journey to stop him, as well as accomplishing other more personal quests along the way. As you will likely have guessed, this book is set in the world of the Pied Piper, but it`s set ten years after that story and it builds and entire world and magic system around it, and I loved how clever that was. The magic system of Piping and information about the other groups of people, such as Sorcerers and dragons, that inhabit the world were all so detailed and interesting, and I`m so excited to venture to different places within it as the series continues. I`m also very much looking forward to seeing more of the characters, as I loved all three of the main trio individually, and I also loved the friendship between them; the bantering dialogue had me laughing on many occasions, and it was so nice to see how caring they were to each other at other points. The supporting cast were also fantastic, and I look forward to learning much more about them, most especially the Hamelyn Piper as we only really saw him in one (incredibly tense) scene in this book, and he has all the makings of a truly wonderful villain. Finally, I loved how gripping this was and how much I wanted to constantly read on, and I wasn`t expecting some of the twists or reveals that happened at all, and there were some very intriguing unanswered questions left open at the end left me wishing the second book was already out. 5/5

The Lost Diary of Sami Star by Karen McCombie and illustrated by Katie Kear (received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review)

This is the story of Hannah, as she finds Sami Star`s diary in a local park and sets out to try and find its owner, whose diary entries make Hannah very much want to be her friend. It`s a welcome distraction from tension at home between her parents and her sister over her sister not wanting to go to university, and in her current friendship group where her friends have changed personalities since starting high school. I thought both of these subplots were well-explored, and I felt really sympathetic towards Hannah as a result of them, and really related to some of her feelings in relation to the latter. Another thing I enjoyed were the extracts from Sami`s diary, which took the form of gorgeous, Polaroid-esque illustrations from Katie Kear and I also loved seeing Sami and Hannah`s friendship after they meet. For such a short read, this packs a lot in, and I`d recommend it highly to anyone looking for a heart-warming, bite-sized read. 4.5/5

Race to the Frozen North by Catherine Johnson and illustrated by Katie Hickey (received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review)

This novella is the life story of Matthew Henson, who was the first man to ever reach the North Pole, who did not receive the proper praise or level of recognition he deserved because he was black at the time, and whose story is rarely told now. I had never heard of him before, and it was fascinating to learn so much about his life and the huge obstacles he needed to overcome throughout his life, ranging from an abusive home to being unable to get an interesting job because of his race, other than the exploring opportunities he was offered by Commander Peary. I also really Matthew`s narrative voice and the writing style, as I was rooting for him to succeed even more as a result, even though I already knew the outcome of his story. I was so glad to see that he did eventually receive some recognition for his accomplishment, even though it took an infuriatingly long time. 4/5

Witch Girl by Jan Eldredge (received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review)

In Witch Girl, we meet Evangeline, a young apprentice to her haunt huntress grandmother who is unsure as to whether or not she has inherited the family talent, and follow them as they leave their Louisiana swamp and travel to a manor in New Orleans, where they have been summoned to solve a strange and seemingly magical problem. The manor was really creepy, with some very suspicious characters lurking around it, and I loved watching Evangeline attempt to solve the mystery that meets them there. As well as this mystery, I really enjoyed learning about Evangeline`s past, and there were some reveals that I hadn`t expected. Evangeline was a very likeable heroine and I loved that she mainly rejected her grandmother`s ideals that she should be more ladylike and serene, even though she was desperate to win her respect as a haunt huntress, and I truly wanted her to succeed in becoming a fully-fledged haunt huntress. My very favourite thing about the book, though, was the worldbuilding- the concept of being a haunt huntress was interesting and well explained, and I loved seeing a variety of different creatures they need to defeat who all had distinctive characteristics too, especially the rougarous. While this was an excellent, self-contained story, I`d love to see more of the world and Evangeline in further Witch Girl books. 4.5/5

What were your favourite reads of September? Do you have thoughts on those that I’ve mentioned? Are any on your TBR? Let me know in the comments!

Amy x


Author: goldenbooksgirl

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

10 thoughts on “September Reviews 2018”

  1. Thanks for the post. I haven’t read any of those books. My favourite YA read in Sep was The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black. My favourite MG book was Al Capone does my Shirt by Gennifer Choldenko.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have Snowglobe near the top of my TBR pile & this has reminded me to bump Peril in Paris up the list a bit!
    I didn’t know much about A Darkness of Dragons but I’ve added that to the list too!
    What sort of age would you say The Great Sea Dragon Discovery would be for?

    Liked by 1 person

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