April Reviews 2019

Hello everybody! Today, I`m going to be reviewing all the books I read in April- of which there are quite a few, all of pretty great quality. It`s quite a long one today, so I`d maybe recommend settling down with a snack before you dive in… Onto the post!

Potkin and Stubbs by Sophie Green

This is the story of wannabe reporter Lil Potkin, and what happens when ghost Nedly Stubbs comes to her for help with solving his murder. First of all, I adored the setting of Peligan City- it was very noir-esque and reminded me rather of Blade Runner`s version of 2019, though this book is considerably less miserable and brooding in tone that than that film was, so I liked it far more. I really liked the titular duo and their bantering back and forth dialogues with each other, as well as how much how they came to care for each other and the main secondary character of Abe. I thought the pacing was fantastic- I was hooked to this and feel that the way the mystery came together was super satisfying. I did occasionally want more details in terms of the worldbuilding, though I`m hoping there may be some in the sequel, which I definitely plan to pick up due to some very intriguing enigmas that were hinted at towards the end. 4/5

Paper Avalanche by Lisa Williamson

This is the story of Ro Snow, whose mum is a hoarder, and how her life is changed by her new friendship with a very persistent girl called Tanvi Shah and a newfound talent. I absolutely loved Ro as a main character, and I was so worried about her that it was genuinely difficult to put this down from the very beginning. I also loved Tanvi (who is just the loveliest and such a good friend!), Noah and Mr Millford; both for their individual traits and how much of a positive impact they have on Ro and her life. Ro and Tanvi`s friendship was another real highlight for me in this and it was joyous to see it blossom and grow as they had such a great effect on each other. The other central relationship of the book is Ro and Bonnie`s, which in contrast to the aforementioned one I found utterly heart-breaking to read, but again I loved seeing it develop and change over the course of the novel. The exploration into hoarding was also heart-breaking, as well as being fascinating since this book considers what it would be like to live in that environment if you didn`t choose it and were powerless to change it. This is just wonderful. 5/5

Storm Hound by Claire Fayers

This follows Storm, who is part of Odin`s hunt, as he is left behind and arrives on Earth, where he is adopted by a girl named Jessica, and they both face grave danger when sinister strangers show up and take a bit too much interest in the local dogs. I loved both Storm and Jessie a lot, and I liked that the 3rd person POV showed both of their perspectives- Storm`s was especially great as he was hilarious in how he viewed earth and humans- and allowed insight into secondary characters (such as David) too. They all had their own plots, and it was great to see them unfold alongside the main action of Storm navigating his new life and dealing with the people who threaten his. Finally, I thought the pacing of this was absolutely fantastic- the mystery side of it was so intriguing and I loved seeing the story unfold and different elements tying together to create a really fantastic ending. This definitely delivered on the Lilo and Stitch vibes I was hoping for as well, which was great. A super fun fantasy that I`d definitely recommend, especially to dog lovers and/or fans of mythology! 4.5/5

When We Were Warriors by Emma Carroll

I`ve been a fan of Emma Carroll since not long after she was first published, so by this point I don`t need any more proof that she is an exceptional author. However, this book provided it anyway. It`s a book of three short stories about different children in World War Two- two of which revisit previous Emma Carroll settings and one that is entirely new. All of them are so readable and interesting that you could definitely read this without prior knowledge of Frost Hollow Hall and Letters to the Lighthouse, but I would recommend reading them first anyway as they`re fabulous and also so you get the full impact of the stories, because I found returning to Frost Hollow Hall incredibly emotional (I literally started weeping the second it appeared on the page, and sobbed quite solidly for the rest of the story because of the way it linked to Frost Hollow Hall). The first story- which is the one that features Frost Hollow Hall- was my favourite for this reason and also because of the fact that Stan was my favourite of the three protagonists as his quiet strength was so lovely, but I absolutely loved both other stories and their characters Olive and Velvet too. Something I else I particularly loved was the clever way in which all three stories are linked, and the nods to the others in each one. This is phenomenal. 5/5

The Last Spell Breather by Julie Pike (received for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
This is Julie Pike`s debut novel, and I utterly adored it. It follows an apprentice spell breather named Rayne- who lives in a world where words are quite literally magical- as she accidentally damages her mother`s spell book and must embark on a quest in order to save her village as a result. I thought this was a superb concept, and the execution most certainly fulfilled its potential- the book feels every inch like a classic yet entirely new and fresh too. The characters were a huge strength of the story too. Rayne is a fabulous heroine who I was backing to hilt from the very beginning, and I loved seeing her confidence grow so much. The antagonist was another particularly great one, as they were truly chilling to the point where I was on edge both every time they were on the page and even when they weren`t, especially during the climax. Frank, however, definitely took the crown as my absolute favourite due to him being so enigmatic, elegant and having such a subtle sense of humour that aligned so well with my own. I also need to give a mention to the incredible worldbuilding, as there were so many fantastic creatures (I especially enjoyed the Grotesques!) and the magic system was so stupendous I can`t think of a strong enough superlative for it. 5/5

Secret in the Stone by Kamilla Benko

In this sequel to the Unicorn Quest, which I read and really enjoyed in March, we see Claire and her sister Sophie navigating life in Arden- where they have stayed to try and save the land- and the secrets they uncovered about who they really are in book one. I continued to really like Claire, and I thought her development was great. I also enjoyed seeing more of Sophie, who was not present for most of book one, and I found her and Claire`s complicated relationship really interesting. I was also a huge fan of the world again, and it was especially wonderful to learn more about the Gemmers (who like Sophie were largely heard about and not seen in the Unicorn Quest) and see things introduced in book one further explored. My favourite thing in this series is definitely how epic the twists are though; the climax of this was packed with so many that had me utterly shook, especially as there were so many in so few pages. It made for an utterly thrilling climax! I`m absolutely desperate to get my hands on book three; can it please just be February already?! 4.5/5

The Gentleman`s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
This is the story of aristocrat`s son Monty as he sets off on his Grand Tour of Europe with his best friend Percy (who Monty is secretly hopelessly in love with) and his studious sister Felicity, and what happens when a stupid, impulsive decision tangles them up in a dangerous plot. While I found this really slow to get started and oddly paced throughout, I did really enjoy other parts of it. I thought the characters were absolutely wonderful- all three of the main characters were so well characterised and were such interesting, nuanced individuals. I particularly adored Felicity, but I was very fond of Monty and Percy too, and their slow-burning relationship was lovely. Another thing I really appreciated was the way that the book highlighted the inequalities present in the 17th century (which the book is set in), as I hadn`t expected it to somehow as this has always been described to me as being primarily funny (it is definitely very funny in places, but I enjoyed the more serious side of it a lot). Overall, this isn`t a new favourite but I did have fun reading it and I look forward to picking up the companion sequel narrated by Felicity, who is epic. 4/5

High-Rise Mystery by Sharna Jackson

I`ve been excited about reading this for absolutely ages, and it was a great mystery. It follows siblings Nik and Norva as they attempt to solve the murder of a neighbour that they were fairly close to, and I had such a good time reading it. The mystery is clever and I loved seeing the investigation unfold as the book went on, particularly as the cast of suspects were all fleshed out and all of them seemed plausible. Nik and Norva were fabulous characters too- I really loved them both- and I thought they made a brilliant detective duo; they were super clever and their individual strengths really complemented each other`s. I also liked some of the twists throughout as there were definitely some I didn`t expect, and it was so fast paced as well that I always really struggled with putting it down, especially towards the end. I`m so looking forward to seeing more cases solved by Nik and Norva in the Tri! 4.5/5

The Golden Butterfly by Sharon Gosling (received for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

This is the story of a girl named Luciana, whose grandfather Marko has just died, as she tries to learn more about his mysterious and sudden exit from stage magic and protect his most acclaimed trick (the titular Golden Butterfly) from malevolent forces. I adored Luciana as she was so strong-minded and determined, and I really liked her friend Charley too- their friendship was so lovely. The supporting characters who help them along the way were fabulous too. I also really enjoyed the writing style, which brought every setting and the story in general to life. The mystery element of this was wonderful too, as it moved at a great pace, kept me gripped throughout and all came to a super satisfying conclusion. This is a truly wonderful historical adventure full to the brim with magic, mystery and magnificent women. 4.5/5

Owen and the Soldier by Lisa Thompson (received for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

I`ve enjoyed all of Lisa Thompson`s books to date, and this novella also met the really high standards I`ve come to expect from her. It focuses on a boy named Owen, whose mum is suffering from mental health issues, as he attempts to save the war memorial in the local park, which he has a rather unique and really special attachment to. Owen was, in true Lisa Thompson, a brilliant main character. I adored him instantly, and I desperately wanted things to improve for him during this as he goes through a lot, as well as for him to save the soldier. The way he goes about it was so gripping to follow along with too, particularly as I felt so invested in the outcome. The absolutely beautiful ending made me cry, and I`m already looking forward to whichever story Lisa Thompson tells next. Owen and the Soldier may be short, but it certainly packs an emotional punch. 4.5/5

The Longest Night of Charlie Noon by Christopher Edge (received for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

This is the story of three children- Charlie, Dizzy and Johnnie- who get lost in the woods when night falls unexpectedly, and their journey of finding the way out. I became very attached to all three children, even though Charlie was my favourite, thanks to how brave and determined they were in the face of danger. This felt so high stakes and fast paced due to the way in which time passes in the woods, and it was very tricky to put this down when I was so engrossed by the different obstacles and challenges the trio were facing. As ever with Christopher Edge, this blends science and story and fact and fiction in such a clever way, and is a thought-provoking read as well as a highly entertaining one. I don`t want to say too much else about this though, as I thought the reveals throughout this and the end were fantastic (I especially loved the epilogue!) and I don`t want to spoil any of it. 4.5/5

The Switch Up by Katy Cannon (received for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

This follows two girls called Alice and Willa with rather similar faces, who meet in an airport lounge and hatch a plan to switch identities for the summer to escape having to stay with people they very much do not want to. I really liked both girls (I particularly related to Alice), and loved that the dual narrative allowed me to see both their perspectives and summers. I also loved the friendships they form; most notably with each other of course, but also with the absolutely wonderful people they meet whilst pretending to be each other (Luca was my particular fave, but I was also very fond of Mabel and Hal) I also really liked the humour within the book as it made me chuckle a lot, and I thought the London and Italy settings were so fun to read about (especially Italy- the descriptions were gorgeous!). finally, I thought the way both girls developed throughout the book was wonderful, and it was lovely to see them change and learn as things went on. The perfect book for a sunny day, or even one when you need a splash of metaphorical sunshine to brighten life up. 4.5/5

Check Mates by Stewart Foster (received for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

Check Mates follows a boy named Felix who has ADHD and is subsequently struggling at school, and what happens when his grandfather changes his life by teaching him how to play chess. I really liked Felix as a character- I was rooting for him from the beginning- and his development due to chess, and his grandfather`s, influences. His grandfather was a fantastic character too, as were Felix`s friends Jake and Rebecca. I also really enjoyed watching the progression of Felix and his grandfather`s relationship, and it was fun to learn a bit more about chess than I`d known before reading this. My very favourite thing about this book, though, was the incredibly clever twist, which most definitely surprised me and was very emotional to read. This was simultaneously so heart-warming and gripping, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 4.5/5

No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter (received for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

This is the story of Emily, who is confident, clever stylish, funny, happy and absolutely thriving, and also fat and what happens when she meets Joe at a party, declares him the best-looking boy she`s ever seen and starts to pursue a relationship with him. First up, Emily was such a joy of a narrator to read from the perspective of; she is wise and completely hilarious (I laughed so often while I was reading this!) and just utterly fantastic. I also loved the ending, as while it wasn`t what I`d predicted it was actually much better and left me with a huge smile. Something else I especially loved about her was her love of music, as while I didn`t share any favourite artists with her, I also really love music and it was so great to see a character who makes music a huge part of their life too. Emily`s friends and family were also super enjoyable to read about- they all felt so multi-faceted and three-dimensional too, just like Emily was as the protagonist. I think this has some really important messages in it about body positivity that I loved and it`s such an incredibly empowering and feelgood read overall that I`d definitely highly recommend it. 4.5/5

Max Kowalski Didn`t Mean It by Susie Day (received an early copy in a giveaway)

I`ve been waiting on a new Susie Day book for what feels like ages now, and Max`s story definitely didn`t disappoint- I think it may be my new favourite of her books, in fact. It follows the titular character Max as his dad disappears under rather shady circumstances and he has to look after his younger sisters, which he chooses to do by running away to Wales, where he ends up trying to slay a dragon so he can acquire the riches legends claim it guards. I found Max to be an utterly lovable hero and I also adored the secondary cast/Max`s relationships with them. The bond he shares with his sisters was particularly lovely, and I really enjoyed how he was willing to go to extreme lengths to try and make his family happy. The humour of this was also wonderful and it made me laugh loads- Susie Day`s trademark quirky humour is always so fun to read and this book is no exception. At the same time, though, it`s also full of heart and contains a super important message about toxic masculinity, and the ending made me cry as a result. If you enjoy contemporary MG, make sure to pick up a Susie Day book. 4.5/5

D-Day Dog by Tom Palmer (received for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

This is the story of a boy named Jack, who is alive in the present day and very attached to his dog Finn, as he researches the story of a paratrooper with a canine companion for a school project while he is also forced to navigate changes to his family life. I thought the way in which the book explored war was really sensitive and interesting- and I loved the way it questioned the morality of the very concept of war and certain specific situations relating to, while simultaneously recognising the bravery of those who serve in the army. I also loved how much the book celebrated dogs and how what wonderful, loyal companions they are. Jack`s character development throughout was another highlight, as were the secondary characters of his friends, the bus driver and his wonderful, compassionate teacher. It was even more interesting to learn that Emile Corteil and Glen were real people and their story actually happened too, as it was an area of the war I`d never seen explored before. I definitely cried as much as I predicted I would while reading this, and it was overall a moving and compelling short read that I devoured. 4.5/5

Which books did you read in April, and are there any you`d especially recommend? What did you think of the books I`ve read? Are any on your TBR? I`d love to hear in the comments!

Amy x

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Author: goldenbooksgirl

Middle grade/young adult book blogger

18 thoughts on “April Reviews 2019”

  1. Potkin and Stubbs is one I want to read!! I loved the Golden Butterfly, the last SpellBreather and Storm hound is just all sorts of gorgeous!
    Looks like you had a lovely month of reading!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really hope you enjoy Potkin and Stubbs when you get to read it! I was so pleased with how much I managed to read last month (there are also 4 not in this post that I read for school/reread) and I definitely really enjoyed of all of them πŸ’œ

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So many here on my pile or list! I really want to read the Golden Butterfly and The Last Spell Breather sounds good.
    When We Were Warriors is on my pile, but I’d wanted to read Frost Hollow Hall first, so I might pick that okr up soon now I’ve read it. High Rise Mystery is here waiting too and I’m hoping for a copy of Owen and the Soldier – you’re right about Lisa Thompson’s characters.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So excited to see what you think of When We Were Warriors! It’s bit quite managed to displace my top two (and it sounds very weird that I have such definitive rankings when they’re all 5 stars!) But I think it may be my new 3rd fave Emma Carroll. It was just amazing. I hope you enjoy High Rise Mystery and Owen and the Solider too! I think you’ll love Golden Butterfly and the Last Spell Breather, and I suspect you’d enjoy the Unicorn Quest books as well actually. They’re so great and underrated; I barely hear anyone talking about them but I was super impressed by both. And the twists in book two are just INCREDIBLE.

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      1. I think/hope it went okayish, fingers crossed! I’m feeling really ill today though so it was quite a challenge- I’m very pleased I’m home and don’t need to study for anything else now so that I can rest properly (though my neighbours’ loud DIY isn’t the most relaxing…). In cheerier news, Anna at War is AMAZING so far. The bit of history it focuses on is the bit of WW2 I find most interesting and it feels very Emma Carroll-esque so I’m loving it atm x

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ah, I’m sorry you’re feeling unwell, that’s horrid and coupled with an exam even worse. Really hope you can catch up on some rest and you-time now and are feeling much better soon.
        I’m so glad to hear your enjoying Anna at War – I’m sold!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so pleased you enjoyed Secret in the Stone and High Rise Mystery. I know you were looking forward to both of those.

    I definitely want to read No Big Deal and am quite intrigued by The Golden Butterfly.

    I have and am looking forward to reading Paper Avalanche. I keep hearing amazing things about this one. And S and I are a chapter or so into Owen and the Soldier.

    Great reviews Amy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are welcome to my copies of both of the ones you’d like to read if you’d like them 😘. I really hope you enjoy Paper Avalanche too, and I think you’d really enjoy the Unicorn Quest/Secret in the Stone as well, even though they maybe don’t seem like the best fit for you initially, like I said when I was reading them. Are you and S enjoying Owen and the Soldier? X

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  4. Great reviews as always Amy! I have only read Owen and the Soldier and The Longest Night of Charlie Noon (loved both!) but have many of the others on the TBR list. I particularly like the sound of Storm Hound, as I loved Mirror Magic πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really hope you enjoy Storm Hound and any others you pick up πŸ’œ. If you don’t love Golden Butterfly and the Last Spell Breather I’ll be very shocked- they’re very “you” books if that makes sense! X

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