Hello everyone! Today, I’m back with my latest batch of reviews, which all have yellow and green covers in honour of it finally being spring (my second favourite season, and autumn only wins because my birthday is in November, to be honest). Onto the post!
How to Save the World with a Chicken and an Egg by Emma Shevah (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
When I was younger, I was obsessed with Lauren St John’s White Giraffe series, and reading this made me so happy because it reminded me of it so much, although the settings are very different. It’s the story of Ivy, who lives with her foster parents and can talk to animals, and Nathaniel, who is on holiday from boarding school for the summer and spending it with his estranged mum. I loved both characters, and the differences in the way they tell their very interlinked story, so much. My heart honestly just broke for Ivy when her backstory was revealed, but I loved her positivity and the way she talks to animals/looks out for their interests above anything else, and I loved seeing Nathaniel bond with his mum more as the book went on. The focus on helping to save animals and protect the planet was also amazing, and I loved finally meeting the “impossible possible” and discovering more about them. I sped through this in an afternoon, and it was just such an enjoyable read that had me hooked so I could find out more about both the mysteries of characters’ past and present mysteries. This is undoubtedly my new favourite Emma Shevah book, and I can’t wait for book 2 in the series given the little hint of where it’s going to be set at the end of this!
Once We Were Witches by Sarah Driver and illustrated by Fabi Santiago
Sarah Deiver’s first book outwith the Huntress trilogy tells the story of two sisters named Spel and Egg (well, nicknamed, technically) and what happens when they leave the “school for wicked girls” they have grown up in when they recieve a letter telling them they are the new assistants to a mysterious undertaker. I don’t think I can really say much more about the specific details of the plot without spoilers, but it’s a really brilliant adventure through a really interesting, unique world. I adored Spel, who goes on a bit of a journey of self discovery and acceptance throughout the book, and I though Egg was a great sister to her, and her friendship with Timothy basically melted my heart. Again, it’s hard to talk about the villains without spoiling the story and the fantastic reveal we get, but I found them so sinister and cruel, and they honestly just got worse and worse the more Spel and Egg learned about them. Artemis the cat was probably my favourite though, if I’m being honest, because who doesn’t love a sassy cat that knows far more than she should about what everyone is saying? The world was so clever and well built, and and I really loved the style of the prose. This has such a different feel to it than the Huntress trilogy, and I really enjoyed my first visit to this world, so I’m looking forward to returning and learning more in the next book of the series.
The Beasts of Grimheart by Kieran Larwood and illustrated by David Wyatt
After having taken years to pick up the first book in the series, despite a friend telling me I’d like it a lot, I’ve absolutely zoomed through this series these last few months and just fallen in love with the world and narrative style. In the series, a bard and his young apprentice have been travelling around and learning about the tale of Podkin One-Ear, a legendary rabbit who came up against the terrifying Gorm, who want to enslave all rabbits and destroy nature. This time, the bard must finish the tale under life-threatening conditions, and although I suspected the book would have a happy(ish) ending, I was honestly on the edge of my seat reading it till I found out everyone’s fate. I loved seeing how much the characters, especially Podkin and Paz, have developed and changed throughout the series, as well as loving a lot of the supporting cast and enjoying meeting this book’s new additions. I couldn’t be any more obsessed with the worldbuilding in these books at this point, and it’s just so perfectly paced. The battle at the end is epic (although there was a death I was very upset about!) and I loved the end of Podkin’s tale, but I’m equally excited to meet Uki and discover another Five Realms story soon.
Destination Anywhere by Sara Barnard
Sara Barnard’s fifth book- which I feel like I’ve been waiting on forever- is the story of Peyton King, told in before and after chapters of her time at school/sixth form college, and her extended, solo trip to Canada after everything gets too much. I don’t talk a lot publicly about my experiences at school, but if you know me, you might know that it was basically a living hell most of the time, and although Peyton, the main character, had very different experiences to me, I found this such a painful yet cathartic look at how much your time at school can affect the way you see the world, and perhaps more importantly, yourself. Aside from how much this meant to me emotionally, though, it was also just basically a perfect book all round. I adored each and every person Peyton meets on her trip (Beasey, Seva and Maja all deserve special shootouts though) and Peyton herself is one of my favourite main characters of all time and I just wanted to hug her most of the time, and her narration/ her wry comments to her past self made me laugh so much. My hatred for everyone who made Peyton feel so awful that she got on a plane to Canada with a one-way ticket is honestly of an indescribable quantity, and though my feelings about her family are complex, I did like that they wanted the best for her (and her texts with her brother were a definite highlight for me!). The descriptions of Canada and all its beauty and nature has made me really want to visit (having had absolutely zero desire to prior to reading this), and the road trip vibes were so much fun. I cannot begin to express how much this book meant to me, but if your life at school was difficult (whatever the reason), this is so moving and relatable and healing.
A Sprinkle of Sorcery by Michelle Harrison
I really enjoyed the first installment of this series back in 2018 so I’m not sure why I’ve taken so long to get round to this, but I’m so glad I finally have because it was so fun being reunited with the Wisdershins sisters on another adventure. When a mysterious girl turns up at the door of their family inn in desperate need of their help, and their younger sister Charlie is kidnapped under strange circumstances, Betty and Fliss and the stranger must go after her and try to get her back, despite encountering pirates, magic and danger along the way. This is such an exciting, well paced adventure rooted in old legends and superstitions, and I absolutely loved the fable about the witch and the island that is told throughout the story. I’m also a huge fan of the characters- Betty is so cynical and clever, Fliss adds a lot of comedy, and Charlie is just the BEST (her love of food especially!). I enjoyed the new characters in this installment too- especially Willow, who my heart just broke for, and Ronia, who is an amazing villain. There is also a twist towards the end I’m still kicking myself for not seeing coming, and I’m excited to see where the series goes next given the ending. I can say one thing for absolute certain, it DEFINITELY will not take me 2 years to pick up a Tangle of Spells after how much I enjoyed this.
Effie the Rebel by Laura Wood
I adored Vote for Effie when I read it a few years ago, and I’m so happy it finally has a sequel because I really wanted to see how Effie reacted to losing the student council election at the end of book one. And I wasn’t disappointed in the results! Effie is still every bit (or maybe even more) determined to have her voice heard and to try and change the world with the help of her friends/campaign team, and when evil Matt Spader takes over the job of president with only his own interests at heart, of course Effie fights back. Effie is such a fun, positive character who really does want the best for not only everyone around her, but the planet itself too, and her passion for saving the planet was really inspiring. I also still really enjoyed her campaign team’s dynamic and Matt was a perfect antagonist to love to hate. My absolute favourite is still her little sister Lil though, because my god that child is a goddess among mere mortals and I kind of want to be her? I’m dying to know how Mary Berry ended up on her list too though. This is such a lovely, light, funny read that also touches on some really serious issues such as the climate crisis and how awful it is not to be believed when someone is making your life difficult, and I very much hope to see more of Effie in the future.
Camp by L.C Rosen
I’ve been meaning to get to LC Rosen’s first book for ages, but I was so confident I’d like it that I also bought his second (aka Camp) and I had such a blast reading this super diverse, incredibly original summer camp story. It tells the story of a boy named Randy who has been spending 4 weeks of every summer at Camp Outland- a summer camp for queer kids to gather together and feel free from society- as he reinvents himself as super masculine ‘Del’ in order to make his crush Hudson fall in love with him, even though he’d prefer to wear makeup and be part of the yearly musical than tackle obstacle courses. I loved Randy so much. He absolutely isn’t perfect and I did have reservations about his plan, not least the way it impacted his friends, but he’s such a sweetheart and I loved how good his heart was. I really loved his friends too, especially George and Ashleigh, but really all of cabin seven to be totally honest. The setting is one of my favourites I think I’ve ever came across- I think it was so amazing to see a book in this kind of setting that was so joyful and accepting, rather than trying to convert the campers, and I just really love summer camp stories in general so this was guaranteed to be a winner for me really. I also loved how complex the romance was- things really weren’t plain sailing for Randy and Hudson all the time, and I kept veering between loving them together and hating them together; I genuinely had no idea how things were going to end. After how much I loved this, I absolutely need to get to Jack of Hearts as soon as I can!
A Girl Called Joy by Jenny Valentine and illustrated by Claire Lefevre (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
This is the story of a very aptly named girl called Joy, who has spent the first ten years of her life travelling the world with her parents and sister, and the culture shock she gets when they return to the UK to stay with her grandfather after he hurts himself trying to change a lightbulb. Joy is determined to find instances of everyday magic, and the book sees her trying to save an ancient, slightly magical oak tree from destruction. I was a HUGE fan of Jenny Valentine’s YA as a young teenager, and I was so happy that her MG is just as well written and full of lovable characters, with an uplifting tone and really lovely messages about not having to change yourself to find acceptance and standing up for what you believe in and know to be right. Joy is such a sweetheart and I loved her optimism and ability to find silver linings in dark situations, I thoroughly enjoyed her relationships with different members of her family (especially her attempts to bond with her grandpa), and her friend Benny was so lovely too. The narrative style is so fun and enjoyable to read, and I can’t wait to see what Joy gets up to as the series continues. This is just an absolute delight, and the perfect read for fans of Lara Williamson’s writing or Laura Wood’s Effie books.
The Cooking Club Detectives by Ewa Jozefkowicz (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
I’m a pretty big Ewa Jozefkowicz fan as you might know if you’ve heard me going on about how underrated Girl 38 is, so I was very excited to get an early copy of her latest release the Cooking Club Detectives, which is about a girl called Erin and her friends trying to save their local community centre (where their cooking club is held) from closure after they find out is being sold. Erin is such a wonderful character and I loved how much she loved her mum, because I’m incredibly close to mine, and it was so nice to see a relationship that was quite similar between Erin and Lara. I also loved her group of friends (especially Sam), and your heart would just have to be made of stone to not fall in love with Sausage, Erin’s puppy. The mystery was really interesting, and I feel like it was balanced really well between this aspect of the plot and the contemporary fiction side of things, with Erin’s bond with her mum, and drawing attention to issues like food poverty and online trolling. I absolutely didn’t see the reveal of who had bought the centre coming (I legit gasped), and I loved the way the book ended.
The Magician’s Map by Mikki Lish and Kelly Ngai (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
I really enjoyed the first book in this series last year, but I think this might have been even better, not least because I was just obsessed with the concept. In this installment, Hedy and Spencer visit an incredible magical festival called the Fantastikhana, and then go in search of an ancient artefact after Hedy gets a living map embedded into her skin. The world and magic of these books is so interesting, and I loved going more in depth about the magical community and also learning about more things magicians are capable of (like the maps, which are honestly so cool!). The Fantastikhana was such a cool setting (and I’m so obsessed with the name) and I’m kind of hoping we get to see another one in the third book of the trilogy. Hedy and Spencer are both great characters and I liked that they’d both changed a bit since the last book, Hedy’s relationship with Jelly was also an interesting dynamic, and I loved getting to know their gran a wee bit better given she was actually in this one a bit. Doug and Stan were as hilarious with their bickering banter as ever, and I also enjoyed meeting some of the new characters, although I’ll admit I was a bit conflicted about whether or not I should like some of them. Overall, this was such a great adventure with great twists and turns, and I can’t wait for another one in this world.
What books with yellow/green covers would you recommend if I was to do another similar post? What’s your favourite season? Do you have any thoughts on the books I’ve mentioned? I’d love to hear in the comments!