Reviews: All Over the Place in April

Hello everybody! Today, I’m back with another review post, which is all over the place in terms of genre and age category etc because these are just the things I wanted to read, and I’ve been v busy with assignments for uni so these are all I’ve managed to get to. Onto the post!

You Can Trust Me by Gina Blaxill (recieved a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

(TW: rape, rape culture, sexual assault)

I have been so excited about this book since it was announced, and it really did live up to how amazing I thought it would be. It’s a YA thriller that focuses on a girl named Alana, who moves to a new town and ends up at this sinister New Year’s Eve party, where her childhood best friend ends up getting attacked. She immediately sets out to work out what happened, amidst a disgusting misogynistic culture and a lot of resistance from the people around her. When I read this, I posted on Instagram that it is a searing indictment of rape culture, because it delves deep into this subject and societal issue, and is handled extremely well. That said, its also a brilliant book in terms of how readable it is, I really loved finding out whodunit in this because I really didn’t see it coming, and I was just so gripped by the way the suspense was built and it was a truly satisfying reveal. A couple of the characters deserve special mentions too- Alana made me so happy because we need more tall heroines, please, and I can’t really tell you a lot about Xander but I found him very surprising and really didn’t expect the way his journey progressed, and I would go as far as to say he was my favourite in the whole book. I can’t wait to see what Gina writes next, my fingers are crossed for more like this!

Wilder than Midnight by Cerrie Burnell (recieved a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

This is aimed slightly older than Cerrie Burnell’s previous books I’d say, and I’d undoubtedly say it was my favourite of them. It follows three girls who live in a mystical land, and how their fairytale remix storylines intertwine into one, hugely satisfying fantasy adventure. The lyrical writing is so beautiful and descriptive that the world really comes to life while you’re reading, and I loved that this does put a twist on fairytales we know and love, yet also feels entirely like it’s own thing as well. I adored all three of our heroines- Rose, Saffy and Aurelia- who are all very different but very strong in their own ways, and the sisterhood and solidarity between them is wonderful. This is such a magical tale and I cannot tell you how much I’d love a film adaptation, because I think it would be so well suited to that medium too and the visuals would be stunning! It also gets extra points for having disability rep and discussion of that within the book, because it’s not talked about enough and that needs to change!

Libby and the Parisian Puzzle by Jo Clarke and illustrated by Becka Moor (recieved a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

This was a really special book to pick up, because Jo is a fellow book blogger and was incredibly kind to me when I started out (she still is, in case that makes it sound like she isn’t nice anymore!! She’s super lovely!). It’s her debut and it follows a girl named Libby, who is joining her aunt’s travelling school on their stay in Paris, and the mystery she ends up becoming involved in. I loved the idea of a travelling school so much as it puts a super fun spin on the idea of a boarding school, and the Parisian setting was so enjoyable. The mystery was very engaging with an interesting solution, and I also liked the friendship between Libby and Connie, and I’m excited to learn more about the latter’s family in book 2. Overall, this was a really fun start to the series, I’ll definitely be reading the next book set in the Highlands, and I’d highly recommend it to fans of the Adventures on Trains series.

Drew Leclair Gets a Clue by Katryn Bury

Okay, so I was pretty late to the party finding out about this book, which I’m annoyed about because I love nothing more than hyping up books with disability/chronic illness rep as much as and as soon as possible, but I’m hoping to make up for it now I do know about it and I’ve read it. There’s no way I can say this without sounding a bit dramatic/pretentious, so I’ll just level with you: this is basically the book of my soul. I too was the slightly creepy child obsessed with crime (both true and entirely fictional), and I’m still the (kind of) adult who makes dark murder jokes and yearns to solve a proper mystery. For example, I messaged a friend while I was reading this and said: “I would literally kill someone right now if I could’ve had this book when I was like 11”. To explain this better, Drew has a chronic illness that is very present and part of her life, and I just loved seeing this representation, which captures the nuance and complexity of what LTHC life is like but also allows Drew’s personality to shine (for the record, I’d actually kill for Drew, I love her so much). The other big thing for me in this is the humour. It was just so ME, and it was such a perfect book to read on a day where I was physically badly struggling. I’m slightly ashamed I did not solve the mystery, but I’m very hopeful this won’t be the last I see of Drew, so hopefully I’ll have better luck next time I guess!

The Rollercoaster Boy by Lisa Thompson (TW: mental illness, bipolar disorder)

I buddy read this with my lovely Sophie (@missbslibrary), as we’re both fans of Lisa Thompson and really fancied reading something else together, after enjoying our last few buddy reads. I don’t say this lightly because I’ve enjoyed them all a lot, but I think this might be her very best book, replacing the Light Jar as my favourite. It follows a boy named Todd, whose dad has bipolar disorder and his family’s spontaneous trip to this incredibly rundown hotel, where there is a treasure hunt/mystery to solve and his dad just keeps getting sicker and sicker. I think it would be impossible not to feel for Todd, because he’s in a pretty impossible situation and he’s really going through a lot, but he is so strong throughout it and I really liked the way he looks after his little sister, even though they initially don’t get on that well. The friends they make, Patrick and Scout, were both in tricky situations as well, and I loved both so much I couldn’t pick a favourite between them. The treasure hunt plotline was super fun, and I’m still kicking myself for not getting what it would be, because in hindsight it makes so much sense. Overall, this is such a great read, and I can’t wait to read what Lisa writes next.

Zeina Starborn and the Sky Whale by Hannah Durkan (recieved a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

I’ve been really looking forward to this since it was announced, and it very much lived up to my expectations that it would give me Vashti Hardy/SinΓ©ad O’ Hart vibes. It follows our eponymous character Zeina Starborn, who lives in a steam punk type world where the rich Aboves live in luxury and can follow their dreams, but the poorer Belows are forced to go into certain lines of work and live in the smog-filled parts of the world. That’s a very simplified explanation, but basically Zeina is a Below and she meets an Above boy around her age called Jackson Willoughby, and this chance meeting changes both of their lives as they end up on an airship trip together with a famous adventurer. There’s There’s a gripping plot to this and it is so well paced that it very much kept me turning pages so I could find out what was going to happen next, and the world building is masterfully done as well. I loved the tense and complicated relationship between Zeina and Jackson as well, and the way that eventually evolved into genuine friendship. The supporting cast are brilliantly written as well and I was never quite sure who could and could not be trusted! Based on the ending, this just can’t be a standalone, so I’m really looking forward to finding out what happens next, because the ending was so incredibly intriguing!

The Roommate by Rosie Danan

This was antother buddy read, this time with my gal Christine (@teachingyear6), and as we’re both big romance lovers, we thought this would be a hit for us and we were right. It is, in fact, the very first romance book I gave 5 stars to this year!! I have to admit, it was *spicier* than I was expecting, but I actually think it did it really well and it wasn’t cringe in the way some books are in that regard. It’s the story of Clara, who has moved to LA because she thinks her childhood crush might finally be seeing her in a different way, but when she gets there, he basically abandons her in his apartment to go on tour with his band, and he has let out his room to adult entertainer Josh. Obviously this is a romance, so there is some major chemistry between the roommates, and shipped them together SO HARD. They were equal parts adorable and passionate about each other, and I just loved the way their love story was written. It’s genuinely laugh out loud funny as well, there are so many moments of comedy gold! Also, Naomi is a queen in the extreme and I’m dying to read the Intimacy Experiment now, because I needed a whole book of her even before I knew there was one and I’m dying to see who she ends up with.

The Girl Who Lost a Leopard by Nizrana Farook (recieved a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

I’ve read both of Nizrana’s books before this, so I was very excited to return to Serendib, which is her fictionalised version of Sri Lanka. It follows a girl named Selvi who has this amazing bond with a wild leopard named Lokka, and her mission to protect him from the dangerous poachers who want to kill him. I love animal/child relationship stories so much, as you’ll probably know if you’ve read this blog before, so this was undoubtedly the highlight of this book for me and the strength of their bond made me tear up more than once. The setting is so vividly described that you really feel like you’re there alongside the characters, and you might think I’m a massive wuss for this, but although this is an incredibly fun book I was very tense while reading because I was so worried about the characters. There’s a bit of a twist at the end which I’m kicking myself for not foreseeing, and overall I just had such a good time with this. Roll on the next Serendib adventure, please!

Mad About You by Mhairi McFarlane (TW: emotional abuse, domestic violence)

I read almost all of Mhairi McFarlane’s book during the 2020 lockdown, and loved them, and I’m basically her biggest fan, so I’ve been pretty much counting the days till the release of her new one. I didn’t honestly think it could live up to my expectations, let alone exceed them, but it did with ease. It’s the story of wedding photographer Harriet Hatley, who has absolutely no desure to get married, and swiftly leaves her boyfriend after a humiliating public proposal, and she ends up moving into a man she doesn’t know’s (or does she? πŸ‘€) house, as a lodger. Now, this book as you can probably ascertain from the trigger warnings handles some very weighty topics and it does it beautifully and sensitively to boot, but it’s also such an incredibly joyful book too. There are some moments in here that had me legitimately howling with laughter- the scene with Barty and his breakfast being one of them, and the thing Harriet says/thinks when she finds out who her new landlord Cal really is. The romance really did it for me (Harriet and Cal are at least in my top 3 of Mhairi couples, which is a HARD LIST TO WIN A PLACE ON!!). the complicated but ultimately supportive female friendships were so well done as well- I desperately wanted to be pals with all of them, except Roxy for reasons I can’t tell you till you’ve read the book. This is cheesy as hell, so I apologise, but I guess you could say I’m absolutely mad about this book. Simply put, no one does a romcom with dark themes like Mhairi McFarlane. I think I’ll need to reread her back catalogue to tide me over till her next book, and also so I can be confident and sure when I say I think this is her best yet.

Thank you so much for reading! Have you read any of these books? What did you think, if yes, and if no, are you planning to read any after reading my reviews? I’d love to chat 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

7 thoughts on “Reviews: All Over the Place in April”

  1. I wasn’t planning to read Wilder than Midnight but after reading yours and Mary’s reviews I think I will be.

    I’m intrigued by You Can Trust Me too, or as intrigued as I get by ya!!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha! I didn’t Rumaysa-hate it! I liked the mystery element, it really kept me guessing but I hated that it felt like she’d just crammed every possible ‘issue’/’teen theme’ in there. In fairness I read it as part of the longlist that year and should probably give one of the sequels a try. Also I think (though you’d never know it!) I’ve become a bit more forgiving/a bit less critical since then so…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚ Oh well! There was me thinking I’d gone soft!! Hahaha! That’s made me laugh a lot! I will definitely have to read book 2 now just to judge my judgement!

        Liked by 1 person

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