July Reviews 2019

Hello everybody! Today, I`m going to be reviewing the books in July that I haven`t already told you about elsewhere and don`t have plans to tell you about in separate posts (there was also one I DNF early on that isn’t here), and there are quite a few! Onto the post!

The Paper and Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie

I`ve been a huge fan of Lucy as a blogger for years, and I`ve been excited for this book for years now. Thankfully, it was just as amazing as I`d expected. Much like 2018`s Tilly and the Bookwanderers, this is most definitely a book for booklovers- it follows a girl called Tabby as she moves to a new area and finds her tribe in the Paper and Hearts Society book club, who help her from the toxic friendship she left behind that is still haunting her. I absolutely loved each member of the society- Tabby was the perfect choice of lead to start the series off with and I loved all of her friends so much too, especially as the friendships between them all are so sweet. I think my favourite was Ed, but it`s very hard to choose between them and ideally, I`d like a book for every single member. My other favourite thing about this was the bookish references, whether big or small, and the road trip section was such a delight for this reason. A truly wonderful debut that proves once and for all that Lucy Powrie really is the queen of contemporary. 5/5

Sasha`s Secret by Cathy Cassidy (received from I the publisher in exchange for an honest review)

A new Cathy Cassidy book is always a huge treat, and the 3rd in the Lost and the Found series is no exception. It follows the band`s lead singer Sasha, as their rising star starts to take its toll on her in the form of anxiety and mysterious blackouts, and things reach their boiling point when their mentor Ked invites them to Devon for a week. Sasha, like all of Cathy`s main characters, is wonderful and I loved seeing her point of view- the way that this series works is that that each book is both about an individual and the band`s progress, and it`s always so fun getting to learn more about someone who was a side character in the book before. I also especially loved the romance, which is one of my favourites that Cathy has ever written, and the rest of the band. The thing I loved most, though, was definitely getting to see certain people I hadn`t expected to when I started- it made me so happy and emotional. I`m already so looking forward to the next in the series, especially as I don`t yet know which band member it`ll focus on. 5/5

The Cradle of All Worlds by Jeremy Lachlan

In this fantasy adventure, Jeremy Lachlan tells the story of Jane Doe, who has been persecuted by the people of the island she lives on, ever since she and her father arrived under mysterious circumstances on the steps of the Manor- a labyrinth that can transport those who enter- fourteen years ago, as she enters the Manor to try and save her father when he`s put in danger. While I initially found the concept quite confusing, once I got further in, I enjoyed the worldbuilding. Jane was definitely my favourite part of this- she was so fiery and brilliant and her love for her dad was really touching. I also liked Violet a lot for very similar reasons, and Winifred Robin was amazing too, even though my feelings on the other central characters (such as Hickory) were a bit more mixed. I also liked the twist at the end, and it has me intrigued to pick up the next book. An interesting, unusual fantasy. 4/5

Under a Dancing Star by Laura Wood

I thought Laura Wood`s YA debut from 2018 was amazing, and I`ve been looking forward to her new one since it was announced. It`s a prequel to Shakespeare`s Much Ado About Nothing (which I`m now tempted to read so I can see Bea and Ben get a happy ending!), and sees Bea and Ben fall in love over the course of a bohemian summer in Italy, even though the romance was initially supposed to be fake, on account of a challenge from their friends. Like A Sky Painted Gold, my favourite thing about this was the gorgeous writing style- everything is so beautifully and evocatively described that I really did feel like I was in Italy while I read this. I also love the fact that the book is still incredibly witty and funny with this lyrical writing style, because quite often the two are mutually exclusive and it`s great to have something that does both. Bea and Ben`s romance is another huge highlight, and I found myself really rooting for them to be together even though I knew they wouldn`t be by the end on account of this being a prequel to a play where they rather famously despise each other to begin with. I also liked them as individuals an awful lot, and I loved side characters Ursula and Klaus too. The historical element was well done too, as it explores an aspect of the 1930s not often touched on in fiction, since Hitler and the Nazis tend to be the main talking point of this time. A delightful, summery romance 4.5/5

A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano

I`ve liked the sound of this series for a while, and I wasn`t disappointed when I finally picked it up. It follows a girl named Leo who discovers her family`s bakery is really a front for the fact that her mother and sisters are all brujas, who bake magic into their products and then gets herself into a very sticky situation while trying to help her friend Caroline. It`s very hard to pick a favourite thing about this book, but I think it would have to be the family dynamics- every member of Leo`s family is just so wonderful in their own way and I adored them all. Leo herself is a lovely heroine, and I was rooting for her all the way as she tried to fix the problem her magic has caused (which is pretty hilarious, I laughed a lot reading this book!). The magic system was so interesting as well- another real highlight- and I loved all the different branches to their power. If you want a super lovely witch story, you need this in your life. 4.5/5

The Secret Summer by Ali Standish

This is the story of a girl named Miranda, as she travels to August Isle for the summer and tries to work out what happened to her distant mother there that has changed their relationship so drastically. I had heard so many goaod things about this going in and I was really looking forward to it, but I felt let down by the execution- I did quite like Miranda and Sammy, but I found the other characters bland and didn`t connect to them much, and I didn`t fall in love with the island setting as much as I`d expected to. My main issue, however, was with the stories that kept popping up throughout- I couldn`t see the point in them, and they just felt like they were preachy fables I will, however, say that I liked the reveal about what had changed Miranda`s mum, as it was clever in the way it was foreshadowed and different to what I`d expected. Overall, this was quite disappointing and I`m not sure whether or not I want to read more from the author, even though her other books do sound interesting based on their synopses. 3/5

Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi

In this delightful female/female hate to love romance, Aminah Mae Safi introduces us to Rachael- a wannabe filmmaker- who despises Sana (the allegedly perfect cheerleader), ever since Sana asked her out a few years ago and Rachael mistakenly believed it to be a prank and tells the story of them being forced to really get to know each other when Sana becomes the lead actress in a very important project of Rachael`s. I sometimes struggle a bit with rooting for a hate to love romance, but that couldn`t be further from the case with this one- at times I wanted to jump inside the book and shout at them until they understood they were perfect for each other. There are some ridiculously precious moments between them, and though it touches on tougher issues it`s a very cosy read overall. I loved the film references throughout so much (especially since my ultimate fave got a shout out!) and I also really liked how like Gilmore Girls this felt at points- I knew going in that this was inspired by that show, but even if not I think I`d still have got the same vibes. On the whole, this is just a lovely book and I highly recommend to anyone that enjoys a fun romance. 4.5/5

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

I`ll admit I was slightly apprehensive before starting this given that it was given to me as a gift and I probably wouldn`t have picked it up on my own, but I thought it was absolutely brilliant once I got a bit further in. It`s very hard to explain, as I discovered when I tried to rave about it to people as I read it, but the best I can do is tell you that it`s about two women connected by one painting, almost a century apart- Sophie lived in France during World War One and treasured the portrait of her that her husband had painted before he went to become a soldier, and Liv is a young widow in the mid-2000s who is fighting a court case so she is allowed to keep the mysterious painting that is one of her last memories of her husband. I loved both of the main female characters a lot, and I thought having sections from both perspectives was a great decision as I became so invested in both lives and stories that I struggled to put this down- it was a very quick read given its pretty large size! The pacing was also perfect, and all of the subplots were really interesting too- the best way I can describe this book is just to tell you it`s written in a pretty masterful way I had a complete rollercoaster of emotions as I read this, and it won`t be the last I read from Jojo Moyes; I`m so glad someone gave me this. 4.5/5

My Box Shaped Heart by Rachael Lucas

I have been meaning to read this book for ages (even more so since one of my closest friends absolutely loves it), and I`m so pleased I`ve finally read it. It is the story of two teens named Holly and Ed, who both have pretty complicated home lives, as they meet and fall in love via their swimming pool, and it is so lovely. I don`t know why I`d expected a dual narrative when I started this, but I loved Holly`s narration so much I didn`t care that I was wrong, especially since her sense of humour was great. That`s not to say I didn`t like Ed though, because I truly did, and I was a big fan of several side characters as well (mostly Cress, because what a queen!). Something else I adored was how gentle this felt somehow, as even though it deals with difficult subjects such as hoarding and the aftermath of domestic violence, it is so hopeful and cosy that it feels wholly uplifting. A wonderful love story that somehow feels real and like the stuff of fairy tales all at the same time 4.5/5

The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell

This is the story of a girl named Vita, who travels to New York after her grandfather is conned out of everything he has left following the death of her grandmother and assembles a heist team made up of children with some very unusual talents in order to try and steal at least some of it back. Vita is an excellent main character, who is as brave as she is compassionate, and I liked the members of her team too, particularly animal tamer Arkady. The heist plotline was also really interesting and well crafted, and it had some great twists. The setting of 1920s was great too, and the writing (which is always one of the most enjoyable parts of Katherine Rundell`s books) ensured that it felt very real and vivid as I read. While I didn`t love this as much as I do Rooftoppers or the Wolf Wilder, I did still find it an enjoyable read and I look forward to seeing what Katherine Rundell does next. 4/5

Top Marks for Murder by Robin Stevens (received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review)

If you know me even vaguely, you will know that the Murder Most Unladylike series is one of my absolute favourites in the world, and returning to the original setting of Deepdean School for Girls for the first time since 2016 made me so emotional; even more so than returning to this world and characters in general usually does. It`s very hard to speak about any sort of specifics with the plot as the twisty structure would make it incredibly difficult to do so, but this eight instalment sees Daisy and Hazel solving another case as the school celebrates its 50th anniversary, and they`re under immense pressure to solve the case before the school is closed. As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, I absolutely adore Daisy and Hazel, and the side characters are just as delightful- I especially loved seeing Beanie, Kitty and Lavinia assist the Detective Society like they have in certain previous books and the wonderful Inspector Priestly being his usual, utterly charming self, but the new cast of suspects were as well fleshed out and interesting as I expect from Robin and I loved certain other new characters who are part of the school. The way everyone has grown since I first met them five years ago is remarkable, and I love seeing them and their relationships change with each book. The mystery is one of the series’ best, too- I had no idea whatsoever who had committed the crime, and watching the girls solve it was fascinating. I couldn`t put this down, and I can`t wait to pick up the ninth book, wherever it may be set and whenever it is released. 5/5

The True Colours of Coral Glen by Juliette Forrest

In her second novel, Juliette Forrest tells the story of a girl named Coral, whose grandmother has recently passed away, as she is enlisted to find magical objects to help a ghost who inhabits the local graveyard in exchange for being able to speak to her gran one last time. This was very different to what I`d expected in that it was much more of a fantasy with contemporary elements rather than the opposite way around, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The adventure plot is well paced and exciting, with lots of peril and interesting magic, and the characters made the book even better. I loved Coral so much as a protagonist (my heart was breaking for her at so many points), and I loved her sidekicks Moonzy and Skaw. The way their friendship developed was really lovely, and I also enjoyed their individual character development. Another brilliant character was the book`s main villain, who was super creepy and gave me chills pretty much every time they appeared. The contemporary aspects were also so well done, and overall, I just thought this was a great read. I`ll admit I was sceptical when I first saw the comparison to the Graveyard Book on the blurb because I think that`s brilliant, but after reading it I completely agree that it has a very similar vibe whilst also having its own unique story to tell. 4.5/5

A Sprinkle of Spirits by Anna Meriano

After loving the first book so much earlier in the month, I couldn`t resist picking the sequel up soon after and I didn`t regret that decision at all. They follow a young bruja named Leo Logroño and her family, and this second book sees them trying to work out why several spirits have crossed over into the living world and return them to their rightful place. Leo and the rest of the Logroños are all amazing characters, and it was so great to get to know them better in this book, and understand why they react in certain ways to things that happened in book one. I also liked getting to see more of Leo`s friends Caroline and Tricia, and it was fun to learn more about their lives outwith Leo too. Something else that`s developed in a phenomenal way is the magic system. I found this fascinating in book one, and I loved the way that new information is added without compromising any of what we`re told in book one- it`s clearly been very well thought out. Learning more about Leo`s culture is always really interesting too, particularly as I hadn`t heard of the festival (Día de los Reyes) in this book before reading it. Finally, I loved the ending- it both wraps up this standalone story and leaves so many interesting things to be explored in the third book, which I think may be the last (which I`m very sad about!). A sequel that manages to retain all the charm of the first book, and add so much more 4.5/5

The Last Secret by Sophie Cleverly

In the final book of the Scarlet and Ivy series, we see the twins and their friends face off against another enemy who wants to destroy Rookwood School, and discover the last secrets about its past. As ever, the book is well paced and the mystery is really interesting, and I thought the way Sophie Cleverly put in so many references to previous books in the series was fantastic, especially when it was in the form of new girl Ebony reacting to some of the past events! I did find the large cast quite overwhelming at points, however, and I`d have loved to have seen more of certain characters and relationships throughout, and I do think the villain could have been better, particularly since this series has had some absolutely amazing ones in the past. On the whole though, this was a satisfying end to the series 4/5

Meet Me at the Cupcake Café by Jenny Colgan

I`ve fancied giving Jenny Colgan`s books a go for ages now, and I`m so pleased that I finally have, even though my reading experience was a bit more mixed than I`d maybe have liked. This is the story of a woman named Issy Randall, who decides after she is made redundant from her office job that she`s going to follow in her grandfather`s footsteps and open her own bakery, which ends up becoming the Cupcake Café. I loved this premise and the way it unfolded throughout the book, and it was really lovely to see the café become a success after how hard Issy and her team worked, and I also adored the secondary romance plotline even though I`d expected the emphasis on these plots to be the opposite way round when I started- Issy`s love interest is so lovely that I just wanted more of him in the book. Another thing I was conflicted about was Issy herself, because while I liked her ambition and attitude in general, I was sometimes baffled by her decision making and I found it really hard to warm to her at the beginning of the book. The secondary cast, however, were absolutely amazing- I loved everyone (except the ones you`re meant to hate, of course) and I`d actually love to read spinoffs focusing on a few of them, most especially Pearl and Helena. My main problem with this book- which is what`s really brought my rating down rather than those minor niggles- is that the constant fat shaming and references to weight made me very uncomfortable. Going into a book about food, I (perhaps naively) didn`t expect that this would be a thing, and it made my reading experience far less enjoyable than it would otherwise have been. Despite having some issues with this I definitely still plan to read more from the author, hopefully in the not too distant future, as I really like the sound of so many more of her books! 3.5/5

The Boy with the Butterfly Mind by Victoria Williamson (received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review)

I thoroughly enjoyed Victoria`s debut the Fox Girl and the White Gazelle last year, and I was delighted to find that her second book is just as good, if not even better. This one is also a dual narrative, this time telling the story of Jamie and Elin, who have just become part of the same blended family, and their rather complex relationship. The dual narrative format worked exceptionally well for the story, because it really allows you to get to know both of them and see both sides, as it makes it easy to empathise with them even when you don`t agree with what they`re doing at all- which is very vauge but the thing I`m referencing is a spoiler I really don`t want to give away. I also thought Victoria`s writing was even more amazing in this book than her last, because the viewpoints felt so much like getting into the characters` heads, and I felt like I really understood Jamie (who has ADHD) and Elin (who is a complete perfectionist who just wants her parents to get back together). I will admit to liking Jamie`s perspective slightly more, but only because I found him so utterly lovable; I adored Elin too. I loved the way this ended a lot and overall, I thought it was a moving and thought-provoking read that still manages to be immensely entertaining. 4.5/5

Which books did you read in July, and are there any you`d especially recommend? Do you have any thoughts on the ones I managed to get through, and are there any you`re planning to add to your TBR? I`d love to hear 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: goldenbooksgirl@gmail.com | she/her

16 thoughts on “July Reviews 2019”

  1. Great month of reading!! I love Ed from Paper & Hearts too, he’s got so much more character. I totally get why you didn’t resonate with The Secret Summer, it does have a vintage Judy Blume vibe which was like stepping back to my tweens for me but may not fit a modern UK mindset with how stories have developed since
    Also I’m so glad you enjoyed The Last Secret!! Plus you read The Cradle Of All Worlds!! sometimes I feel I’m the only person who has!! It’s a tricksy book and Jeremy needs to get book 2 out Soon to follow up on shockers made in this book!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was really hoping it’d remind me of Gilmore Girls going on, but I just couldn’t connect with it which was such a shame! Yes, I’m very intrigued to see what happens in the second Jane Doe book! And I’m definitely glad I read the Last Secret now, so thank you for giving me the push to!! 💜💜

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ed is certainly my favourite out of the Paper and Hearts gang! I love him so much and can’t wait to see more of him in the upcoming sequel! I’m glad you enjoyed The Girl you Left Behind by Jojo Moyes – it’s my favourite book of hers to be honest though I read it quite a few years ago now! It’s definitely a tough cookie to explain to people – I could never explain it properly to people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I REALLY want Ed to get his own story at some point! I really struggle with describing the Jojo Moyes so I’m glad it’s not just me 😂. I’m not sure her others sound like exactly my cup of tea, but I’m going to give at least some a go and hopefully they’ll be good!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a month for books! I’m so glad you loved Top Marks for Murder so much! I look forward to getting to it.
    I’ve bought the True Colours… and I’ll be getting Good Thieves too. I’m also really intrigued by The Cradle of all Worlds which I don’t know at all.
    Safe to say there’s a fair few here that aren’t my cup of tea, but I really liked reading your reviews of them anyway avd I’ll find that so helpful to talk about them in work!
    The plot of the JoJo Moyes one really reminds me of another book but I can’t for the life of me think what it us…yet…!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Looking forward to hearing what you think of Coral Glen (I’m planning to read Twister hopefully soon, did you like that one?), and I hope you enjoy Good Thieves as well. And I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Cradle of All Worlds-it took me ages to get into it but I liked it by the end. And I’m glad you’ll find some of these helpful for work!!
      If you do remember which one is similar to the Jojo Moyes, please do tell me becayse I loved the concept of it so much! And I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed it-I was very close to giving it 5 stars! I’m so glad my French teacher gave me it when I left because I’d probably never have read it otherwise!


      1. I wasn’t that keen on Twister. I didn’t dislike it, but I didn’t love it either. I seem to remember thinking it just seemed to have too much going on, it felt a bit like she’d thrown every possible MG thing at it. Im hoping Coral Glen will be a bit more pared back, from what I hear I think I’ll like it more anyway.
        It bugged me all morning but the book I was thinking of was The Muse by Jessie Burton. I suspect they’re actually very different, but it has a woman in the 60s (I think) who starts working at a gallery and a woman (and her family) in the Spanish Civil War and they are also connected through a painting.x


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