Hello everybody! Today, I have another review post for you, which this time features some early 2022 releases I was lucky enough to be sent by the respective publishers. I was also going to include a couple of others that were ones I had bought/won in a giveaway but life has gotten a bit stressful now I’m due back at uni on Monday so sadly I’ve not had time to devour as many as I’d hoped these past few days. Onto the post!
The Secret of Haven Point by Lisette Auton (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
This was the book I started my year with, and I’ll honestly be very surprised if anything else takes its place in my top spot. I don’t want to make this review all about me, because I want to tell you why I loved this so much and discuss all my favourite parts, but I feel like I do have to preface everything else by acknowledging that I am disabled and have been since I was 7 years old, so seeing a book with an all disabled cast that is both about disability and a joyous fantasy in it’s own right means more to me than you can possibly imagine. I am so grateful we are finally starting to see more disabled writers being published and getting their time to shine, because the lack of positive disability rep in middle grade books especially is a constant source of upset for me. So this is just a game changer and I want everyone to read it and support it so there continues to be books like this, because I cannot tell you how much this would have meant to me when I was younger. The characters are all so varied and fun, and they all just felt like such real people to me. I especially loved our narrator Alpha, of course, but some others I loved included Cap’n (the kittens in his beard!!) and Alpha’s friend group, who she has such different but wonderful relationships with, and which expands throughout the story in a really sweet way. The discussions it has about disability and ableism made me cry cathartic tears to the point my proof has tear stained pages, because they are just so vital and necessary. I also want to mention that the fantasy aspect with the mermaids and the magic around Haven Point is wonderful, and I have such a desire to learn about it. On that note, the ending of this made me feel like the story isn’t quite finished, so I’m hoping a sequel will be announced imminently, not just because I want to see what happens next but also because I’d love to see Alpha and Badger and co again for many, many more books.
Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Being Good by Louie Stowell (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
This is only my second time reading a book by Louie Stowell, but once again I had a great time and did quite a bit of laughing while reading. This sees Norse God Loki sent to earth in the guise of an 11 year old mortal boy, accompanied by Thor, who is playing the role of his twin, and also two other figures from Norse mythology who are acting as their parents. As this is a punishment for his latest trouble making deed, he has to write in a diary and log his progress in becoming a better person during his time on earth. Loki is of course known as the trickster god and Louie’s version of him really does live up to that name, because he is up to a whole load of bad stuff in here, and yet he’s still really likeable in a sort of cheeky chappy/bad but with a heart of gold way. I also really loved his relationship with Thor, but the standout character (can we call the diary a character??) was absolutely the diary he writes in that kind of talks back to him and corrects him when he tells lies and updates him on his score, which it can do because it is powered by Odin. There are so many funny moments in here and I think the comic format lends itself very well to the humour, but if you made me pick a favourite, I’d have to go for the whole sequence with the frosts giants. I’ll definitely be picking up the next book to see how Loki’s story continues, and I’m really looking forward to seeing which mischief he gets up to next, and of course for the diary’s commentary on it!
The Mermaid in the Millpond by Lucy Strange and illustrated by Pam Smy (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
I’ve been a fan of Lucy Strange for a really long time so I was very excited to see she was releasing a novella with Barrington Stoke, and it was a very short, satisfying read that definitely encapsulates the vibes of Lucy’s writing really well. It is about two girls who are working in a authoritarian, cruel mill during the Industrial Revolution, and how their lives intersect with that of the mysterious mermaid who lives in the millpond who everyone tells them to be afraid of. I think one of the standout parts of this book is the fabulous female friendship between our main characters Bess and Dot, who come together despite their rocky beginnings and the strict regime that doesn’t exactly encourage solidarity between workers. The mythical/magical element was great too, and the slow reveal of Bess’s backstory just made it even more heartbreaking when we did found out I find this such a sad part of history to read about and learn about, possibly because a lot of local tourism near me is about this era, but I thought this book explored it very well. I’d kind of like a sequel to this maybe, just to see what happens next in Bess and Dot’s lives, but if this is standalone then I really like the hopeful note it ends on, and I am once again looking forward to seeing what Lucy Strange writes next, as I almost always say when I review her books!
Escape to the River Sea by Emma Carroll and illustrated by Katie Hickey, inspired by the world of Eva Ibbotson (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
When I got the DM asking if I wanted a copy of this book, I honestly thought I might be dreaming, and it’s still kind of mind blowing that I wasn’t, because not only has Emma been one of my favourite authors since I was about 12, but I also adore the original River Sea story by Eva Ibbotson. I think the first thing to say is that this does a beautiful job of honouring Journey to the River Sea while also being something you could very much enjoy as a standalone. It’s the story of Rosa Sweetman, a Kindertransport child who has been raised in a crumbling English country house, and her journey to the Amazon after a family friend visits and invites her along to go in search of the giant sloth. This family friend is in fact one of Maia and Finn’s children, Yara, and so when Rosa arrives at the family age meets twins Vita and Enzo, as well as Maia’s former governess Minty who now looks after the new River Sea generation. I have always been fascinated by what life would have been like for Jewish children, or in this case the daughter of a Jewish man, during the war, and it’s probably a silly little thing to comment on but the fact that Rosa is from Vienna rather than Germany made me really happy given that the significance of Vienna to Eva Ibbotson. Rosa is a wonderfully rich and well developed character with flaws but also an inherently likable quality. And I loved all three friends she makes- Enzo, Vita and Orinti- but I have to give a special mention to Vita because she is so feisty and kind hearted and I just loved her a whole lot. The adventure they go on is a bit different to the one mentioned in the blurb, but I loved the historical details of it and I thought the ending was just the most perfect, happy thing possible. I am so beyond thrilled I got the chance to read this early, and ridiculously excited that Emma Carroll has another 2022 release in September for me to look forward to!
Sleepover Takeover by Simon James Green and illustrated by Aleksei Bitskoff (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
I don’t think it’s any secret around here that I am an absolute diehard fangirl of Simon James Green and his books, so unsurprisingly, this will be another gushing review about how hilarious he is and how much of a joy it is to spend time in one of his stories for a while (in this case, when I was resting in bed after my neighbours had a huge party and I got no sleep… and this book managed the impossible feat of making me less grumpy!!). This book is also, funnily enough, about an absolutely gigantic party, albeit one I found FAR more amusing and entertaining. It follows Otis Bumble, who is very confused when he’s invited to the sleepover the king of his class Rocco Roccoco’s 11th birthday sleepover, and even more bemused when he wakes up the following morning with no recollection of what happened and surrounded by some VERY strange things- for example, a donkey and a peeing cherub missing a very important piece of its anatomy, and of course he’s also wearing a wedding dress. To say much more about the plot would give a lot away, but needless to say, absolute chaos ensues and I don’t think a single page went by where I didn’t snort with laughter at least once. I just loved all the characters so much, especially Otis, who very much fits the mould of Simon’s protagonists being a bit hapless and daft, but also a really lovely person and ridiculously funny! And I loved the little group of friends that forms and the way the plot unfolds almost like a mystery book, with a super satisfying solution. I basically just live my life waiting for more of Simon’s writing so I can greedily devour one of his books in a day, and I’m already dying for his next YA to be out in May or June.
Yesterday Crumb and the Storm in a Teacup by Andy Sagar (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
I was absolutely delighted when a proof copy of this arrived in my house just before Christmas, because I’d been looking forward to it for a good while, and both the premise and the comp titles had me completely convinced I would love it. Even more delightfully, I loved it EVEN MORE than I thought I would. It is the story of Yesterday Crumb, a girl with fox ears who has grown up being goggled at in a circus cage, and what happens when she finds out she is in fact a witch when she is rescued by Miss Dumpling and moves into the magical tea shop Dwimmerly End, where a white raven familiar and a boy with a wolf’s nose also dwell, but unless she can remove the shard of ice placed in heart by a malevolent demon, this blissful new existence will only last a short time. I cannot say enough good things about the worldbuilding in this. I am obsessed with the concept of tea witches and loved learning all about that, but I also think the idea of confectionery witches is genius and I don’t think I’ve ever coveted a magical ability more in my entire life. My other big highlight, other than the general gorgeously cosy yet epic vibe that is my absolute sweet spot with fantasy, were the characters. Yesterday is just such a loveable protagonist despite her faults, and Madrigal has in just one book become one of my favourite ever animal characters because I just love his personality and his relationships with Miss Dumpling, Jack and Yesterday, which are all different but ultimately loving because he is the BEST. Jack is such a sweet hearted soul with just a heart of gold; I especially Ioved how welcoming he is to Essie, and Miss Dumpling is such a fantastic, encouraging mentor! And Mr Weep, I mean, WHAT a villain. There is a twist at the end of this I genuinely did not see coming even a little bit that is a trope that I just love in general, and I’m just absolutely desperate to see where this series goes next already because I think it’s going become an annual staple in my bookish calendar, like new installments of Starfell and Nevermoor are, and I’d also like to especially recommend this to anyone who loves the Eva Evergreen books.
The Hunt for the Nightingale by Sarah Ann Juckes and illustrated by Sharon King-Chai (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
I haven’t read either of Sarah Ann’s YA books but as soon as this was announced I knew I would be picking up her middle grade debut because it just sounded like something I’d enjoy and it was just such a beautiful story. It’s about a boy named Jasper who has anxiety, and when the nightingale that always comes and sings in his garden tree in the spring does not arrive and his parents tell him his sister Rosie has gone to a “Better Place”, he decides to go off on a very long walk in search of both of his most beloved things. The people he meets along the way and how Jasper helps them warmed my heart so much, and I think both the physical and emotional journeys he went on are so difficult but also rewarding that they help him come to terms with the truth of what has happened and face his grief by allowing new people into his life, my favourite of whom was Ibrahim with Gan being a very close second. The focus on nature was another wonderful part of the story, and Sharon King-Chai’s illustrations complement all the interesting information about birds throughout the story so beautifully, and I think this element of the book really reinforces how special Rosue and Jasper’s bond is. This honestly kind of broke my heart progressively more as I got further and further into the story, but I think it ends in such a stunning, hopeful way and I’m really looking forward to reading more from this author, especially in terms of middle grade.
Clementine Florentine by Tasha Harrison and illustrated by Mya Mitchell (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
Clementine Florentine was one of my first blog tour spots in 2022 last Sunday, and I’m so glad I finally read the book this week because it is so much fun. It’s about aspiring comic poet Clementine, who trans up with her biggest rival at school Callum to split up their parents when they start dating, which causes a whole heap of reverse Parent Trap shenanigans to take place. Clementine is a brilliantly flawed yet completely understandable heroine, Callum is obviously not the friendliest but I really loved him too once we got to know him better and her little sister Lottie made me CACKLE- she really reminded me of Lil from Laura Wood’s Effie books, which you’ll know is a huge compliment if you read my reviews of those. I love Parent Trap style stories a whole lot, so seeing a bit of a twist on that was super fun and the messages about believing in yourself and giving new people a chance were so lovely too, and I was genuinely sad to say goodbye to Clementine and her family at the end. Is this the first in a series? It feels like it would work as a standalone, don’t get me wrong, but I also think there is definite series potential because I would absolutely love getting to know these characters better and of course getting the chance to read more of Clem’s poems (I hope she wouldn’t mind me calling her Clem, although I too have rather an annoying laugh so I fear she probably would 😂).
The Case of the Smugglers’ Curse by Mark Dawson and illustrated by Ben Mantle (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
I’m pretty sure this was originally self-published, but it’s being released in 2022 by Welbeck Flame, who are a publisher I hadn’t really heard of until last year but who have so many books coming out this year I’m interested in, and it’s a very kind of classic Five Find Outers, Adventure Island kind of mystery story that I always have a good time reading. It’s about a group of kids coming together and trying to work out who the ghostly figure they’ve seen on the beach is, which leads to them coming into contact with a dangerous group of smugglers. I think books like this live and die by who the group of detectives are and how they interact with one another, so pleasingly this book does that really well. My favourite is obviously the dog Sherlock, but I did also really love his owner Charlie, and the rest of the team as well to be fair. The setting is great and works really well in terms of both time (winter) and place (a seaside town) for the plot. Overall, this was a great little mystery book with a modern take on a classic story and I’ll definitely try and read the second one once it’s out.
Thank you so much for reading! Which 2022 releases have you picked up so far this year? Have you read or are you planning to read any of the ones I’ve included in this post? I’d really love to chat with you in the comments!!
11 thoughts on “Reviews: I Don’t Know About You, but I’m Feelin’ 2022”
I loved the Famous Five, and the Secret Seven stories. Alas they were frowned on by adults as not proper literature. Pah. 🙂. We have just pre-ordered The Secret of Haven Point, as a result of your review. I am sure we will love it. Louie’s an Emma’s books are both on our list too, time and pocket money allowing — I over spent on cat food and Mrs H on cake, or possibly the other way around 😉
Thanks for a great review of those mighty fine titles.
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I cannot tell you how thrilled I am my review of Haven Point convinced you to preorder, it really is such a wonderfully special story and I hope you love it ❤❤. And I hope you like Loki and River Sea too x
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Is the Simon James Green older MG? S absolutely loved the one he read so I might have to treat him.
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Yes, upper MG, and somehow even funnier than Life of Riley. Hope S enjoys xx
Great reviews as always! I can just imagine your excitement at getting River Sea! Glad it lived up to expectations!x
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Oh I was so happy!! I really hope you enjoy Haven Point and Yesterday Crumb especially after our chat yesterday xx
Wow! What a brilliant batch of upcoming releases! I cannot wait to read River Sea having met Emma Carroll when she was a newly published author with Frost Hollow Hall & adoring all her subsequent books!
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I really hope you enjoy River Sea! I think Emma has done Eva incredibly proud with it xx
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Great reviews! I will be looking out for these. I’m a big fan of Lucy Strange, so The Mermaid in The Millpond will probably be first on my list. Jxx
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Thank you so much Jenni!! I really hope you enjoy Mermaid xx