Hello everybody! Today, I have a review post I’ve loved reading for, which is made up of books that my friends keep telling me to read, and in a lot of cases the same books have been recommended by a few different people. Onto the post!
First of all, a huge thank you to all the people who have (unwittingly) given me the idea for this post! I’m going to list everyone below, with a link to where you can find them:
Louise (a friend from uni who doesn’t have a blog)
The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates by Jenny Pearson
I read this book on a day where I was really ill, and miserable about being stuck on the couch, but this made it a far more pleasant experience! It’s the joyful, moving story of a boy named Freddie, who sets out to try and meet his biological father after the death of his grandfather, on one of the best road trips I’ve ever read about. Along with his friends Ben and Charlie, he has to get to Wales and back, with very little money and not much time before their parents realise their cover stories don’t quite add up. This is honestly one of the funniest things I’ve EVER read- there were so many hilarious moments and I loved Freddie’s wry little comments throughout the narrative, which reflected on the journey. The dialogue is amazing as well, and I loved the friendship dynamic a lot. On a more serious note, I also loved the way the book handles grief. My own gran died a few months ago and I found this part of the book really emotional to read, especially a certain scene towards the end. I don’t want to give any spoilers but I really loved what Freddie found at the end if his super miraculous journey, and I’m now a fully fledged Jenny Pearson fangirl!
Puddin’ by Julie Murphy
I really enjoyed Dumplin’ when I picked it up on the very first day of 2021 (it had been sitting on my TBR since before the film came out…), so I wanted to pick up the sequel/companion, which is told from Millie and Callie’s points of view, as soon as possible. I already loved Millie from the first book, but if you told me in January I’d not only feel sorry for Callie but really like her and Root for her, I’d have been searching for the hidden cameras, because there was just NO WAY that could ever happen. But it did, and it was a very pleasant surprise. Millie and Callie are an exceptionally unlikely duo, given Callie’s behaviour in Dumplin’ and then at the beginning of this book, but they balance each other so well and I really grew to love their friendship. Both of them change for the better for knowing one another, and I loved their extended friendship group too, especially as it meant we got to see how Willowdean and other characters from book one were getting on. The romances were very, very lovely too; I loved that Malik and Mitch weren’t your standard love interests, but were still totally swoon worthy anyway. I’m really looking forward to reading Pumpkin, which is also set in Clover City, soon!
Queen of Coins and Whispers by Helen Corcoran (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
This has been on my TBR for an embarrassing length of time, given how excited I was to receive a proof, but then COVID turned the whole world upside down and I just never got round to it. It’s about a newly coronated queen named Lia, who is determined to change her corrupt kingdom for the better, and her relationship with her spymaster Xania. The worldbuilding and class system are so interesting, I loved all the Royal traditions (especially having a Whispers), and the political intrigue made for such a gripping read. I also loved the fact that same-sex relationships aren’t seen as anything unusual in this world, and that they’re treated just like opposite-sex ones, the way I wish they were in our world. On that subject, I adored Lia and Xania, both as characters in their own right, and their relationship and how much they loved one another. I also really loved some of the side characters, such as Coin and Isra. I really didn’t expect a lot of what happened, but the plot flowed really well. If you’re a fan of Melissa Salisbury’s wonderful Sorrow duology or any other political fantasy, I think this would really appeal to you.
The House on the Edge by Alex Cotter (won an advance copy in a Twitter giveaway)
I’ve been really looking forward to this ever since I saw the announcement about it in the Bookseller, and it really lived up to my expectations of how great it sounded. It’s a gothic mystery/adventure that follows a girl named Faith, a young carer whose father has disappeared, leaving her alone her to worry about their house which sits on a crumbling cliffside, her brother’s conviction that sea ghosts live in the cellar and keeping the family safe from both internal and external sources. I loved Faith so much, I think partially because she reminded me a lot of Ade from Boy in the Tower, and also because she is so strong and kind and determined to look after everyone she loves. I also loved her narrative voice, which is quite distinctive, especially the names she uses for certain characters. Sam was such an interesting character too, as was Faith’s brother Noah. I also loved the kind of gothic feel the book had- I was never sure if the ghosts were real or not, and the historical element of the book was fascinating. I’m really looking forward to reading more from Alex Cotter in the future!
A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee
I’ve had this on my TBR for YEARS, and although it was very different from what I’d expected, I really enjoyed finally getting to it. It tells the story of Annabel, who is sent to live with her two elderly aunts to recieve magical training, and what happens when a sinister villain tries to take control of London and she is chosen to defeat them. Annabel and her companion Kitty, who was very interesting in terms of her magic and the perfect companion for Annabel despite what they both think, must journey to find a very powerful wand in Under London. The magic was really intricately described and unique, and it was fun to see so many parts of Annabel’s world. I also really enjoyed the sections from Mr Angel’s POV, which really give an idea of how scary he is and how nefarious his plans are. Overall, this is a great middle grade fantasy that really reminded me of the Infernal Devices trilogy.
White Rabbit, Red Wolf by Tom Pollock
This book is like the twistiest, most insane rollercoaster ever, and I thoroughly enjoyed every single second of it tricking me and proving me wrong and just generally messing with my mind. It’s about a maths prodigy named Peter, who has severe anxiety, and what happens when he’s sort of but not quite kidnapped by a mysterious woman and her employers after someone stabs his mother, who is a famed scientist. So, first up, this is SUCH a good thriller. It does exactly what it says it will, by making you gasp and question if you read a certain passage correctly because it’s such a clever twist, but also threads little clues throughout the narrative so the twists feel very believable, even though I never saw any of them coming. I also really loved the plot itself and the way it kind of felt like a spy movie that also had an incredibly interesting exploration of mental health. Speaking of that part of the plot, I loved the way mental health was such a huge part of the book, and how sensitively and accurately it was portrayed. I feel like I can’t say much about anything else to do with this because otherwise I’ll ruin the whole, mindblowing thing for you, but it’s well worth a read.
Joplin, Wishing by Diane Stanley
I love a good time slip book, so when I heard about this from a friend, I bought it pretty much straight away. It’s about a girl named Joplin who lives with her mum and her mum’s best friend Jen, who discovers a broken Dutch platter amongst her dead grandfather’s belongings, and who realises it has magical properties after having it repaired. She wishes to have a friend like the girl in the poster and at school, and soon enough Sofie comes to life and she encounters a precocious boy named Barrett the next day in the library. I loved the friendship between Sofie, Joplin and Barrett, as well as Joplin’s bond with her mum and Auntie Jen, which was so lovely. The way the mystery element of the plot was executed was fantastic- I was saying “oh, just one more chapter” so much while reading- and I loved the way everything came together at the end so that every single piece of the plot turned out to have been important! The magical element was super fun too, the contemporary element about Joplin’s life at school was so relatable and I just thoroughly enjoyed myself discovering this story.
A Tangle of Spells by Michelle Harrison (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
I’ve really enjoyed both previous books in this series, but this is undoubtedly my favourite so far, and it’s possibly even replaced The Other Alice as my all time favourite Michelle Harrison book. It follows the Widdershins sisters as they move to the picturesque but rather odd town of Pendlewick, where magic is a taboo subject and yet everyone seems to be under a spell, and the mystery they become embroiled in when they discover a secret room with an enchanted painting in their new house. The characters in this series are absolutely wonderful; Betty is so resourceful and clever and kind to others, Charlie adds so much comedic relief as well as having some great ideas and the villains this time were so, so sinister. It was also really fun to have some cameos from characters from the other books like Fingerty and Spit! I loved the atmosphere Michelle Harrison conjured as well, but the thing that absolutely hooked me was the mystery of Ivy Bell, whose diary features throughout. I can’t say much about her really but I was just blown away by that section of the plot. I’m so glad this isn’t the last Widdershins book, I’m really going to miss them when I have to say goodbye!
The Time of Green Magic by Hilary McKay
I hadn’t read very much Hilary McKay before picking up the Skylarks’ War, but after how much I loved it, I want to read everything she’s ever written so I can savour how warm and wise and witty her writing is over and over. Hence, I decided to pick up one of her recent standalone the Time of Green Magic, which focuses on new blended family who move to an eerie, ivy-covered house, where books quite literally come alive, and odd things happen rather a lot. As I’ve said previously, the way Hilary writes is just divine, it’s simultaneously gentle and beautiful and so exciting I never wanted to put the book down. I also utterly adored all the characters; the children are Abi, Max and Louis, who are all trying to adjust to their new family, their very busy (but excellent and dedicated) parents are Polly and Theo, and although we never really meet her, Granny Grace was wonderful too. The fabulism element was so interesting and magical, and I loved the way it developed into something rather more sinister than I had anticipated. There is also storyline not remotely connected to the green magic that I adored, which was Max’s crush on Esmé, the French art student/babysitter. I honestly thought I was going to die laughing at the macaroni scene in particular! Overall, just an amazing book that I will 100% be rereading someday.
Kick by Mitch Johnson
This has been on my TBR since pretty much the day it came out, and I’m kicking myself (sorry, I couldn’t resist!) for not getting to it sooner because it’s such an important yet enjoyable read. It’s the story of an Indonesian boy named Budi who works in a football boot sweatshop to help support his family but dreams of being a professional athlete, and what happens when one unlucky kick puts him in debt to the Dragon, the most feared man in Jakarta. The book is endorsed by Amnesty International, and it was absolutely heartbreaking to learn about the conditions of sweatshops and how horrifically children in third world countries are exploited, but it strikes a really good balance between that and the action and more heartwarming moments. Budi was incredibly lovable and I thought his friendship with Rochy was really special, but his bond with his family was even better. I loved the stories his grandmother tells him, how much his mum looks after him, and his dad’s determination to provide for his family. Overall, this is a great read and I’d highly recommend it to fans of MG contemporary.
Uki and the Outcasts by Kieran Larwood and illustrated by David Wyatt
After taking an age to pick up the Podkin series, I’m determined to read the Uki trilogy all in 2021 if possible, because visits to the world of the Five Realms is just always a delight. As ever in this series, we follow a bard and his apprentice Rue as they make a dangerous journey, and this time the bard is telling the tale of Uki Patchwork, an unlikely hero who was left for dead until a spirit saved him and entrusted him to track down and capture four other spirits with sinister intentions. He is joined by two other outcasts- an assassin who doesn’t want to kill anyone (Jori) and a very small plains rabbit (Kree)- and they set off in search of the spirit of war. I didn’t think it was possible for me to enjoy this more than Podkin’s story, so I was very apprehensive going in, but in the end I enjoyed it just as much, if not more. Uki is such a lovable hero, and I just wanted to hug him when he was struggling with self doubt and feeling like no one loved him, and I absolutely loved Jori and Kree too! They’re such good friends to Uki, and incredibly interesting and valuable additions to the team too. The plot was action-packed and absolutely thrilling, and it was amazing to see such a different side to this world, as well as learning more about its history and traditions. The future storyline of the bard and Rue was pretty thrilling as well, and I can’t WAIT to pick up the next book in the series after the cliffhanger ending.
Charlotte, Sometimes by Penelope Farmer
Like I’ve said before, I’m a big fan of time slip books, and this is a classic of the genre so I thought I’d better pick it up. It’s about a girl called Charlotte, who goes to bed after a difficult first day at boarding school, and wakes up in 1918, 30 or 40 years before her own time period. I really liked the boarding school setting, and I loved the gentle feel of the book, as well as the subtle humour. The notes Clare and Charlotte swap were great, and although I kind of wish we’d got to see Clare’s perspective in a dual narrative, I loved getting to know the characters in both time periods. I also loved the role that Sarah plays in the book, and although the ending was very sad in places (and I really wasn’t expecting it!), I really liked it. I’m very much hoping I can track down the two others in the series, because this was such a great read.
Thank you so much for reading! What are some books you’re recommended often? Have you read any if the books featured in my post? I’d love to hear in the comments!
5 thoughts on “Reviews: Somebody Told Me… to Read All These Books”
Loads of great choices here! I’m glad you loved White Rabbit Red Wolf – I thought it was fantastic! I’ve not read his se obd book though it sounds a bit more relstiobshippy – have you read it?
I might try Queen of Coins and Whispers – do you think I’d like it?
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I’ve not read anything else by him, but I definitely would after WRRW! And I think you probably would- it’s got quite a good balance of romance and politics, and I loved the world! x
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Maybe I’ll add it to my list for Ross’ LGBTQ reading challenge then…
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I can’t remember which of these I recommended to you but I am glad you enjoyed it. Some great books here
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Your two were White Rabbit, Red Wolf and Queen of Coins and Whispers. I’m sorry it took me so long to get to them 🙈😂