Reviews: Debut Delights

Hello everybody! I’m back with another review post, which is again a shorter one because uni has been very intense lately and my reading has suffered a bit for that.

I’m hoping I’ll be back to almost a book day in April when it’s done because I really miss it, so basically there are other debuts that would’ve been here if my reading speed was standard and they will absolutely be popping up elsewhere, hopefully very soon. Anyway, onto the post!

The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas

This came very highly recommended to me by several people so I was very hyped about picking it up, especially since it is a fake dating trope romance, aka my favourite trope of all time. It follows co-workers Catalina and Aaron, as they travel to Spain for Lina’s sister’s wedding pretending they are together to save her the embarrassment of her (frankly horrible) ex having an opinion on her being single since their break up. Obviously they fall in love. There are so many cute moments in this and I loved the big Spanish family and the extra fun they brought to the book. Lina is pretty kickass and relatable, and Aaron is perfect for her, and THAT quote you see mentioned all the time on social media is as lovely on page as you would expect it to be. Also, this is such a little thing and I feel very silly mentioning it in a review but the One Tree Hill reference towards the end made me ridiculously happy ; I mean, I love that show so much I have a freaking Joshua tree tattooed on me! I’m very much looking forward to reading Rosie’s story in the American Roommate Experiment, which is due out later this year.

The Sky Beneath the Stone by Alex Mullarky

I won a copy of this in a giveaway run by the author and I was thrilled, because it’s such a gorgeously made book and I was sure it would be just as beautiful on the inside. It is indeed such a lyrically written fantasy set in Cumbria, following a girl named Ivy who must venture through to Underfell in order to save her brother from the spell of a sorcerer, despite the fact she is agoraphobic. Ivy doesn’t think she’s very brave, but I hugely admire her strength and her Map reading skills are incredible. The boy she meets when she enters Underfell, Kit, has the most amazing backstory of his own and I adored him, so when I tell you my heart just about snapped in two at one point when there’s a big reveal about him. I also loved the portrayal of the antagonist and how complex he is, because I don’t want to give anything away but he isn’t who you think he is and I just think he’s so well written. The world is a great spin on faeries and folklore, and the Cumbrian setting is really special and unusual and the descriptions of the landscape are stunning. I’m very excited to see what Alex writes next!

The Last Fallen Star by Graci Kim

This is the start of a trilogy for the Rick Riordan Presents imprint and while I’ve read some great books from them before, this one is by far my favourite thing they’ve published and I’d go so far as to say I think it’s better than Percy Jackson and many other very famous fantasy series of that time. It follows a girl named Riley Oh, who has been raised by a family of Korean witches of the Gom clan despite her seeing to have no magic, and what happens when she discovers she does in fact possess magic and must use it to save her sister’s life after a spell goes tragically wrong and everything gets very chaotic. Riley’s loyalty and love for her family is one of my favourite things about her, and I think the way she faces what she does with strength and bravery is so impressive. Hattie is a delight and she made me laugh a lot (and cry!!) and Emmett is just everything you could want in a best friend character. The fact he is willing to make some huge sacrifices for Riley and stick through her through everything highlights what a good person he is, and I only want good things for him going forward in the series please. The worldbuilding is insanely cool and I just loved learning about all the different clans and the unique skills and strengths they all have, and I loved learning more about Korean mythology and their goddesses as well. I was so on the edge of my seat through some of this and the climactic scene honestly could have given me a heart attack, so I can’t imagine how I will cope with the next two books as the tension ramps up. Nevertheless, though, I will be reading them.

Last One to Die by Cynthia Murphy

I don’t read that much horror, but something about Cynthia’s books really appealed to me for some reason, so when I was planning this post I decided to read her 2021 debut release. It’s about a girl named Niamh who travels to London for a drama summer school programme, but things take a dark turn when she arrives and people who look just like her and that she has come into contact with start getting very violently killed. Word of warning, pals, read this one in the day time like I did, because if you’re anything like I am with spooky stuff then it is a wise decision. There are a couple of scenes in this that legitimately made me full-body shudder; the most notable examples being anything to do with the metal claws, the thing with the photos on the phone and the ouija board scene. Niamh and Jess did such great investigative work even thought what was going on was beyond terrifying, and I loved the friendship that debeloped between them. I did guess the twist because I’m naturally very suspicious but I thought it was really clever and I’m even more excited to pick up Cynthia’s second book Win, Lose, Kill, Die now.

Hedgewitch by Skye McKenna and illustrated by Tomislav Tomic (recieved a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

I’ve been looking forward to this since the day it got announced in the Bookseller, and I was so thrilled to recieve an early copy. And this magical middle grade more than lived up to my expectations, I’d actually go so far as to say it exceeded them, which is a big statement because I’ve been dying to read this! It follows a girl named Cassie Morgan, who has spent the past 7 years in a horrible boarding school waiting for her mother to return, as she discovers that she actually has other family members who live in Hedgely, who she goes to live with and starts to learn about the world of magic. The magic system in this is incredibly fun and well built, and I think my favourite thing about other than how original and fun it is, is the fact that anyone can learn magic because it is a skill. Cassie is a wonderful heroine who I just know people are going to take to their hearts; some things about her reminded me of Morrigan Crow and Willow Moss, as well as some of my other favourite fantasy heroines, and I loved seeing her life change from the horrible, bullying one she faced at Fowell House just because she was different to other girls there and dared to stand up for herself and be her own person. And anyone who knows me will know that I love a good animal companion, so I’m sure no one will be shocked to hear that Montague was my favourite and I’m just utterly obsessed with him and his humour. I also loved the overarching series plot that was introduced within the book which is so intriguing, and I can’t wait to see how it develops over the course of the four books to come, starting with Woodwitch next April! This is just a lovely, gentle, funny fantasy with so much series potential and I had an amazing time reading it, so I highly recommended you pick it up once it’s out in the world next month.

Thank you so much for reading! Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts? Are there any debuts you’ve read recently and loved? I’d love to chat with you in the comments!

Amy xx

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

5 thoughts on “Reviews: Debut Delights”

  1. We dont do horror, great as I am sure this sounds, as there is far too much out there for real and in our lives to enjoy. BUT, of the others, and these all sound wonderfully well created, of the others, Hedgewitch, and The Sky Beneath the Stone, sounds just the thing we would love to read! Cumbria is such a wondeful and magical place, just like Cornwall.
    Thank you for a great post.

    Liked by 1 person

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