August Reviews 2019

Hello everybody! Today, I`m going to be sharing my reviews for the month of August, excluding my rereads of some of the Geek Girl and Murder Most Unladylike books, and one I was on the blog tour for. Onto the post!

The Lost Tide Warriors by Catherine Doyle

This sequel to last year`s the Storm Keeper`s Island picks up about six months from where that left off, and it continues the plot from that- it sees main character Fionn navigate becoming Storm Keeper of Arranmore, which becomes even more complicated when evil sorceress Morrigan`s Soulstalker army invade the island and he has to come up with a solution. Fionn is such a lovable character- he`s a real underdog since everyone doubts his capability and I wanted nothing more than for him to succeed reading this. I was a big fan of the secondary cast too- I thought Sam was a fab new addition, it was lovely getting to know Shelby and Tara better and Malachy is so wise and wonderful. The villains are excellent too- I absolutely despised all of them and I desperately want them to get their comeuppance by the end of the quartet. The worldbuilding is also a huge highlight, because the island of Arranmore makes for an amazing setting and the magic and mythology are both really interesting. The climax of this was heartstoppingly tense and the ending completely heart-breaking, and I`m really interested in what`s going to happen next. 4.5/5

We Are Giants by Amber Lee Dodd

After really enjoying Amber Lee Dodd`s second book Lightning Chase Me Home this year, I figured I should probably give her debut a go, and I`m so glad I did. It`s the story of a girl named Sydney and what happens when she, her sister Jade and their mum Amy (who has dwarfism) move to Portsmouth to start a new life. I loved Sydney so much- she feels like her family is falling apart and is trying to stop things changing too much, and I wanted to jump in and give her a hug at so many points, which is also true for Jade and Amy, and quite a few of the supporting characters as well. Something I else I really loved about this was its portrayal of disability- while dwarfism is not my disability and I can`t comment on the accuracy of that, I felt like this really got how nuanced the experience of having a disability is in general and how many different experiences and emotions come with it. I also just really liked the overall feel to this; even though it touches on several important themes there`s something so warm and comforting about it. This may have been quite a quick read for me, but it`ll stay with me for quite a while and I loved spending time with these characters. 4.5/5

White Fox by Chen Jiatong (received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

This is the first children`s book that has ever been translated from Chinese to English, and it was a really interesting read- it`s the story of a fox cub named Dilah who sets off on a quest to become human by following the clues in the moonstone his parents left behind after he is orphaned. While Chinese isn`t one of my languages, I always find reading translated fiction really interesting, particularly as being a translator is my dream job and based on what I do know of translation as a skill I think it was really well done here- there were a few points where I thought the phrasing was slightly clunky but on the whole, it felt very natural to read. Dilah was an incredibly sweet protagonist who absolutely broke my heart at so many points, and I loved his companion Ankel too. As for the plot, I really liked the episodic nature of the chapters and the way that they all introduce a new part of the world whilst developing the overall plot, and I loved the direction things went in at the end. I really hope Chicken House are planning to release a translation of the second book in the series too, because otherwise I may have to learn Chinese just to find out what happens! 4/5

Patina by Jason Reynolds (received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

The second book in the Run series focuses on Patina, who is really struggling to adapt to her new private school and the fact that diabetes (which she refers to as β€œthe sugar”) has caused her mum to lose her legs, meaning she and her younger sister live with their aunt and uncle. Patina is a wonderful character, and I loved her character development through this and while our circumstances are very different, I definitely related a lot to how much of a perfectionist she could be. It was great getting to learn more about her teammates as well as Patina, and I can`t wait to read Sunny and Lu`s stories in 2020. I adored her family too, especially Mumly. Also, whilst I`m not into sports at all, I love reading about the track team Patina and the other protagonists in this series are part of and cheering them on in every race. Between following her personal life and her sporting one, I was gripped by Patina`s story throughout. If you enjoy MG contemporary, this series definitely needs to go on your TBR. 4.5/5

Girl 38 by Ewa Jozefkowicz

This is the story of a girl named Kat, who is having a really difficult time due to toxic friendship, as she meets her neighbour Anja and learns about her past- specifically what happened to her and her best friend during World War Two. Kat is definitely not the perfect, lovable heroine, and that`s what made me love her as much as I do. She experiences some incredibly difficult situations over the course of the book, and I wanted to rescue her from all of them. My other favourite character was Julian, whose storyline I found so difficult to read that I`m tearing up even thinking of it over a month after finishing the book, because he is so wonderful. I also loved Anja, whose storyline has some really interesting parallels to Kat`s even though they take place in such different times, and who was unbelievably brave. Something else I liked a lot was that it focuses on a very underexplored part of World War Two- it highlights what happened when the Nazis invaded Poland and what happened to Jews from there before they were eventually sent to internment and concentration camps, and how absolutely barbaric it was. The two stories, and the extracts from Kat`s comics, are blended together in such a seamless way, and I can`t wait to read more from Ewa soon, because while I expected to enjoy this I didn`t think I`d fall quite this much in love with it 5/5

Under Earth by Ellen Renner

I was a huge fan of Storm Witch, the first in this series, last year, and this sequel was somehow even better. It follows our heroine Storm, who is the new weather witch of Yanlin, as she sets sail with their fleet to Bellum Town, a much richer island with sinister secrets who are desperate to use Storm`s power for themselves. Storm continued to be a really amazing heroine who it`s so easy to root for, and I loved how much more calculating and conniving she became this time- she`s such an interesting character. The supporting cast are also great, and it was especially wonderful getting to meet so many new characters and having to work out all over again who could be trusted and who couldn`t. The new setting was another huge treat; Bellum Town has so many layers to it and I loved seeing Storm navigate both the wonders and dangers of it. The expansion of the already amazing worldbuilding and magic system was so impressive too, and I just feel like this series is ridiculously underrated. The ending has left me INCREDIBLY worried for Storm, and the third book seriously cannot come soon enough! 5/5

Alex Sparrow and the Zumbie Apocalypse by Jennifer Killick (received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

In the 3rd book of the wonderful Alex Sparrow series, we see Alex and Jess continue using their unconventional superpowers, this time to investigate the fact that people who are part of the local Zumba class keep mysteriously dying and then coming back to life. Alex is such a lovable character, with some very endearing quirks, and his bickering back and forth with Jess is probably my favourite thing about the whole book. Plenty of other things are hilarious too, such as the animal characters and the dialogue between other characters, and all of these books are absolutely brilliant to read on days where you want to be laughing a lot. Also, the pop culture references are fabulous, particularly the ones about Disney. The action side of the plot is just as well done; the plot is really exciting and it`s paced in a way that had me racing through it to see what was going to happen. The Christmas setting this time round was an added bonus as well- it`s very festive and I love the way this was incorporated. I really hope this isn`t the last time I visit Cherry Tree Lane, but if it is it was a great way to wrap thing up. 5/5

The Princess Who Flew with Dragons by Stephanie Burgis

In the 3rd instalment of the Drachenburg books, we follow Princess Sofia (who is the less perfect, poised younger sibling of the Crown Princess Katrin) as she journeys to another kingdom and has to save the day when some ice giants cause chaos. I loved Sofia so much, and I`m incredibly fond of just about everyone in this world I`ve come to know and love- it was particularly wonderful seeing such a different side to Katrin than what we got in the Girl with the Dragon Heart and getting to know Aventurine`s family better, especially Jasper. It was so interesting getting to elsewhere within the world as well, and I loved the way that this experience changes Sofia and helps her develop as a character. The humour in these is one of my absolute favourite things too- they make me laugh a lot when I read them, and if you`re looking for fantasy with interesting plots that have quite a gentle feel to them, these would be perfect for you. I`m so sad that this is the last time I`ll be visiting this world, but I`ll definitely be venturing into some others that Stephanie has written. 4.5/5

Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams

I knew as soon as I heard about this that I wanted to read it and I`m so glad I picked it up. It`s the story of two Londoners named Nadia and Daniel who fall in love via anonymous letters they write to each other via a newspaper column designed to help commuters find love with each other. Nadia and Daniel are both fabulous characters, and I loved both equally in different ways and for different reasons- with Nadia I especially loved her cynical brand of optimism and my favourite things about Daniel were his self-deprecation and how caring and considerate he was. Their romance was adorable too- I was slightly worried it`d end up being annoying that obstacles always got in the way of them getting together but even though I was desperate for things to just work, it was only because I loved them so much; it felt incredibly plausible. The friendships in here are great too- I especially loved Daniel and Romeo. Also, since this is a romcom, I was delighted that there was a big romantic gesture at the end, and it was such a lovely way to end the book, as was the epilogue. Like the dedication says, this book is one anyone who chooses to believe in love should give a chance (I`m slightly paraphrasing there, it doesn`t command people to read it! But I love the dedication and wanted to give it a mention in this review somewhere) 4.5/5

The Girl with Space in Her Heart by Lara Williamson

It`s been ages since Lara Williamson has released a new book, but this was definitely worth the wait. It follows a girl named Mabel Mynt, and what happens when her sister Topaz ropes her into a plan to get rid of her mum`s boyfriend Gavin when she suspects he`s up to no good. Mabel is also having trouble trying to befriend the new girl at school and is still struggling to deal with her dad leaving. Basically, she has a lot going on, and I defy anyone to not want to give her a massive hug when they read this. I loved Topaz too, even if she can be terrible, and I really liked their mum and Gavin as well. Mabel`s friendship with Dolly is really complicated, but also very sweet in places, and similarly her relationship with Topaz isn`t perfect but is incredibly endearing. The plot takes lots of twists and turns too, which was great, and there were a few parts I didn`t see coming at all. I also need to give a quick mention to the humour, particularly the puns, because it made this a lot of fun. The book`s message of not letting your worries overpower your entire life is really important, and overall this is just uplifting. I`m so excited for whatever Lara releases next already! 4.5/5

Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan

This was one of my most highly anticipated YA books of the year, and I was so disappointed when I finally got around to reading it. It`s about a girl named Lou, who is the person who wears the hot dog costume at the amusement park she works in, who convinces her best friend to fake date her in order to get closer to her crush Nick, in the midst of trying to save the amusement park from closing down. Lou narrates this book, and that was my biggest problem with it. It`s been a while since I have straight up despised a protagonist quite this much- she is so selfish and self-absorbed that I just could not root for her. I did, however, really like some of the side cast- namely Seeley, Nick and Lou`s dad- which redeemed this slightly. My other main problem was that the plot never really went anywhere and was so underwhelming. I loved the idea of the amusement park setting, but it was barely utilised, which was such a shame. Also, I hated how much cheating and manipulation there was, which ties back into my dislike of Lou. Overall, this was just a real letdown for me, although I`ll give it that it did improve a bit by the end. 3/5

The International Yeti Collective by Paul Mason and illustrated by Katy Riddell (received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

This is the story of a yeti named Tick and a girl named Ella, who catch sight of each other when she is visiting the Himalayas with her TV star uncle and set off a catastrophic chain of events. Tick and Ella are both great characters with the very best of intentions, and I liked them both a lot. While it did take me a little bit longer to get into the plot as I found the beginning quite slow paced, I ended up really enjoying that too, and towards the end things got to a high enough level of excitement that it was pretty unputdownable. My favourite thing about this was definitely the worldbuilding of the yeti community- I found all the different setts really interesting, their naming system was so fun and learning about their customs and traditions was great as well. The way the theme of conservation is worked in and dealt with is also really well done, and very important. A lovely fantasy that I think fans of the Missing Barbegazi will really enjoy. 4/5

Last Bus to Everland by Sophie Cameron

In her second novel, Sophie Cameron tells the story of a boy named Brody who is being bullied at school and feels like an outcast in his own family, as he meets a mysterious boy called Nico and starts going to Everland with him- a magical world you can enter once a week where you be entirely yourself. This was such an interesting concept, and I enjoyed seeing it executed- the exploration of whether Everland is really all it seems was fascinating and I loved the way that going there helps Brody rebuild his real life, and seeing how it affected different characters lives for better and worse. I also liked the storyline with Brody`s family, as difficult as their circumstances are to read about for a lot of the book. I particularly enjoyed his relationship with Jake- his genius brother. A clever magical realism novel that had me turning pages very quickly indeed to see how things turned out 4/5

A Most Peculiar Toy Factory by Alex Bell (received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

As a huge fan of Alex Bell`s middle grade, I was really excited to hear that she had a Barrington Stoke novella coming out and it didn`t disappoint. It`s the story of a girl named Tess who goes to work in a mysterious toy factory with her younger siblings in a bid to save her family`s farm for closure, and the events that unfold there. Tess is a great heroine and I liked how capable she was, as well as the variety of supporting characters around her. The settings were something else I really enjoyed- Tess`s farm sounds SO cool and the toy factory had a creepy yet quaint vibe. The otherworldly additions were fantastic too- this feels very similar to our world, but with magic, and I just like spending time in Alex Bell`s worlds. My favourite thing about this was definitely the ending though- I really hadn`t expected it to end that way and it`s left me hoping there might be a sequel! 4.5/5

The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane by Julia Nobel

This is about a girl named Emmy, who is the daughter of a parenting guru, and follows her as she is sent to a British boarding school where she learns more about her father, who has been missing and presumed dead since she was a young child. Emmy is a wonderful character who I felt so much sympathy for at a lot of points, but also really admired for her determination to find out the truth. I was a big fan of Lola and Jack too (particularly Lola because she’s both Scottish and badass!) and getting to know the others at Wellsworth, many of whom become suspects. The setting was fantastic too- I absolutely love a boarding school and this is a very interesting one indeed. The mystery was well paced and exciting, and I also loved the twist at the end, which I most definitely did not see coming, and I definitely plan to continue in the series. This is basically Harry Potter without the magic, so if that sounds appealing, I highly recommend it! 4.5/5

The Unimaginary Friend by Guy Bass and illustrated by Pete Williamson (received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

In the first book of a new series, Guy Bass introduces the delightful character that is Skeleton Keys, a skeleton with fingers that open doors to other worlds, as he meets a boy named Ben Bunsen whose imaginary friend has just become real and whose life has become a bit chaotic as a consequence. Skeleton Keys is a brilliant narrator, and I loved his character within the plot too, as well as that of the Gorblimey (who was so sweet!) and Daisy (who I found incredibly intriguing). I really enjoyed the worldbuilding as well- the idea of imaginary friends being able to become real was great and there`s a lot of potential for really interesting se quels given that Skeleton Keys has so many different abilities. The plot was super well-paced too- I zipped through it so quickly because I was so intrigued and having a good time reading it. This is great fun, and just the right amount of spooky! 4/5

Which books did you read in August, and are there any you`d especially recommend? What are your thoughts on the ones I managed to get through? 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: | she/her

19 thoughts on “August Reviews 2019”

  1. I’ve just started listening to Our Stop and I’m currently really enjoying it – I’m glad to see your review of it! I was gutted by Hot Dog Girl too – I thought it would be brilliant and funny but I just felt it lent to much towards biphobic tropes and just wasn’t enjoyable. I’m joping to pick up The Last Bus to Neverland soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You do! I’m interested to see what you’ll think, and if it breaks your heart as much as it did mine by the end. I think you’d LOVE the Storm books- they’re like Sorrow but MG and with more magic. I’m not quite so sure you’d like the Girl with Space in her Heart, but I’d love to hear your thoughts once you’ve read it!


  2. There’s lots of these I’m osning to read eventually! Lost Tide Warriors of course! And Girl 38, Yeti & Storm Witch/Under Earth too. I do like the sound of The Unimaginary Friend too and I’m craving something to fill the MMU shaped hole in my reading life now too so I might try Black Hollow Lane too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very excited to hear your thoughts on all those, if/when you read them! For the MMU shaped hole, some of my other fave mysteries are the Laura Marlin books (you’ll like Uncle Calvin!) And the Kat Wolfe books, Katherine Woodfine’s books, Rose Raventhorpe is widely underrated and I’d also recommend A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder. I know it’s being marketed as a thriller and it is in places but it’s also a properly good modern whodunit. I am sure there are others I’m forgetting, and I shall tell you them when they come back to me x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I thought the first Kat Wolfe was good but a bit too animally for me, and it felt just a tad younger too. I will definitely try Laura Marlon though and I will be reading all Katherine Woodfine’s – like MMU I’ve read one and loved it but never got round to going back yo the beginning or reading her new series. I will be reading A Good Girl’s Guide this month anyway πŸ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Your August reading list looks hugely impressive and I’m going to take your advice on a number of these. The only two that I’ve read from your list are The Lost Tide Warriors (to which I’d give 6/5 if I could) and Girl 38, which I also thought was wonderful and which I think has been sadly overlooked by the book blogging community.

    Liked by 2 people

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