Hello everybody! Today, I have a little pick and mix review post for you, with books of all different genres, all of which I was lucky enough to be sent copies of from the respective publishers. Onto the post!
Dread Wood by Jennifer Killick
I have been a fan of Jennifer Killick and her writing for absolute years now, and she remains one of the only authors that can tempt the absolute wuss that is me to read horror. This is her first book with Farshore which starts off a new series, and follows “Club Loser” as they try and make their way through a Saturday detention with creepy caretakers singing nursery rhymes and the supervising teacher being sucked underground. I think our characters- Angelo, Hallie, Gus and Naira- are the real highlight for me here, because they’re all so well developed and fun and loveable despite their issues and flaws that have landed them in detention (I was also utterly THRILLED that the incident in question actually took place on my birthday!!). The villains were EXTREMELY sinister, and the horror element of the book was suitably horrifying for sure. I also hugely appreciated the disability rep, not to mention the lowkey Breakfast Club vibe, and given that this is a Jennifer Killick book, I’m sure no one will be at all surprised that I laughed CONSTANTLY during this, because she just has such a gift for writing humour even when her characters are in terrifying situations. I already can’t wait for the next one!
Our Sister, Again by Sophie Cameron
I was a big fan of Sophie Cameron’s two YA books (released in 2018 and 2019, apparently, which is making me feel lowkey ancient!), so I was thrilled when her first middle grade book was announced a few months back. It’s about a girl named Isla and her family, and what happens when this groundbreaking tech company recreate her dead sister Flora in the form of AI, and send this new Flora back to live with the family as part of “Project Homecoming”. As you can imagine, this causes a lot of drama in their close-knit island community and when an anonymous person starts threatening Flora, Isla sets out to work out what is going on before she has to face the prospect of losing her sister all over again. I loved Isla and she goes through a LOT in this book, yet her priority is always her family and making sure those around her are okay. The sister bonds between her and Flora and Úna were something else i adored about this story and we all know I’m a sucker for any kind of Scottish setting even though I’m from the Central Belt rather than a teeny tiny island. The mystery element is super intriguing and well done, and I think this tackles big, weighty topics like grief and divorce and the extent to which AI can be human in a really good way. Also, this gets super special extra bonus points for the super cute f/f crush/budding romance in here because it is SO NICE to see more rep for this, especially in a UKMG where it’s really not very common. I can’t wait to see what Sophie writes next now because this is definitely my favourite book by her so far!!
My Heart and Other Breakables by Alex Barclay
When I saw the words Geek Girl mentioned in the email where I was offered this, I knew I’d be saying yes because that is one of my favourite series of all time and I basically read everything that’s remotely connected to them. This One follows Ellery Brown, whose famous writer mum has recently died, and she is on a mission to find out who her long lost father is, which leads to many amusing mishaps and also realisations about her life and the people in it. Ellery is a very fun narrator, who actually reminded me more of Hope from the Valentines books than Harriet from Geek Girl, and I think the Irish dialect added another dimension of fun and humour to the narrative. I loved her relationships with her best friend Meg, and her slightly dysfunctional but loving family, and the fact that the book explores Ellery’s grief alongside all the humour and heart. If you’re a fan of funny, moving diary format stories, this will very likely be a hit for you!
Fagin’s Girl by Karen McCombie and illustrated by Anneli Bray
A new Karen McCombie is always a treat, and this new historical novella with characters borrowed from Oliver Twist was no exception. It follows a girl named Ettie who becomes an orphan and due to her brother Joe, falls in with Fagin’s gang of thieves and pickpockets. Ettie is such a brave and determined character who I really enjoyed reading about, and while Joe was very much a flawed person, his love for Ettie is so clear. It was great to read Karen’s take on Fagin as well, and I loved the gang of boys who worked for him too (especially little Mouse!!). The ending in Ettie and Joe’s timeline made me so sad, but then I got to the flash forward and it was such a lovely way to round off the story and explain what happened next in their lives. This is so well written and concise and a great little story, and I’d highly recommend to people who enjoy historical MG, but especially those who liked Catherine Bruton’s Another Twist in the Tale. Thank you so much for reading!
Have you read any of these, or are you planning to? What’s been your favourite book you’ve picked up recently? I’d love to chat with you in the comments!