Pick ‘n’ Mix Reviews: a Barrington Stoke Trio

Hello everybody! Today, I have a little set of reviews for you again, all of which are review copies I was gifted from the wonderful dyslexia-friendly publisher Barrington Stoke. Onto the post!

The Climbers by Keith Gray

I’ve been looking forward to picking this up for ages now, and it really didn’t let me down because it was such a gripping YA contemporary, that totally hooked me and had me devour it in one sitting. It’s about the titular climbers, and our main character is Sully, who is undoubtedly the best climber in the village until new boy Nottingham shows up and threatens to usurp his position, leading to a contest where they race to climb the last unnamed tree of the Big Five. The characters all felt so real to me and they’re so multifaceted, but even though they don’t always make good choices there’s something inherently likeable about them regardless. The relationship between Sully and Nottingham is so complex and interesting that I really wasn’t sure how it would end between them, but I loved the way it did. The other major standout of the book for me was the setting. I’ve never read anything quite like this before, it was so incredibly original and intriguing, and I really felt as if the village could be a real place because it was so perfectly described. I definitely want to read more from Keith Gray in the future!!

Blossom by Laura Dockrill and illustrated by Sara Ogilvie

This is such a sweet little story, about a girl named Blossom whose grandparents have recently died, and their flower stall, which her parents have now taken over. Her mum is struggling to adjust to this, and as such, the flower stall’s future is in jeopardy. As someone who lost a grandparent this year, I found the portrayal of that specific bereavement really moving and I even teared up a few times. Blossom is an absolute precious angel of a character and I just wholeheartedly adored her, and I also really enjoyed her family dynamic. I also loved the flower stall and how special it was to the family, as well as the setting of the market and the characters that are featured there. Mossboy and snoopy Gilda were my very favourites, but I really enjoyed meeting everyone to be honest. The message that it’s important for women to get to achieve their goals and chase their dreams was really lovely as well, and overall, this is just a gorgeous wee book that any fan of MG contemporary would enjoy.

The Puffin Portal by Vashti Hardy and illustrated by Natalie Smillie

I’m a big fan of Vashti Hardy’s writing, as well as hugely envious of her incredible imagination, and these novellas are every bit as fantastic as you’d expect them to be. They take place in a world where wardens can immediately teleport to the scenes of crimes via a magical map, and specifically follow the youngest warden Grace Griffin, who is newly qualified and taking on her first mission. There have been a string of strange robberies, where a puffin has been sighted at the scene, so Grace and her robotic raven Watson set out to investigate and put a stop to whatever is going on. Grace is a great character, so clever and capable yet still believable as being a total newbie to her role, and Watson never fails to make me laugh. I also found Tom very intriguing this time round, and I’m looking forward to learning more about him in the next book in the series. The overall message that you come away with at the end is that family is not synonymous with blood relatives, which I think is both very true and very important to emphasise in books, and also very moving in the way it happens here. I’m so excited to read the Raven Riddle when it comes out, although I’m not sure when that will be!

Thank you so much for reading! Have you read any of these? Which books from Barrington Stoke do you love? 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

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