Reviews: Pulling Down Stars Just to Make You Glow

Hello everybody! So, as you will know if you read my tweets, I did a 5 star predictions post either earlier this month or last month, and the result of that is that they’re my new obsession in life. So here are 13 books I thought I’d love, and was absolutely spot on about, all of which I obviously recommend very highly. Onto the post!

Giant by Nicola Skinner

This is Nicola Skinner’s fourth book, which is arguably a little bit darker than her others, and it follows a girl named Minnie who lives on an island where every child has their own giant as a servant, until they are twelve and they must kiss their giant so they can be turned to stone and used to repair the damage caused to the island by the chronic earthquakes. I loved Minnie’s love for her giant Speck, and the rebellion it inspires within her and others to change the fates of their giants. Minnie is so brave in the way she stands up for what she believes in, and I loved the secondary cast too, most especially Twist the jackal. There were some great surprises in the second half as well, and I loved the part where we got to meet some giants who don’t comply with the islands’ rather barbarian rules. Nicola Skinner is undoubtedly one of my favourite authors at the moment, and I will be eagerly awaiting her next utterly original and entirely entertaining book, for sure.

One Night With You by Laura Jane Williams

I’ve always really enjoyed books from this author in the past, and I don’t know what it was with this one, but I just had an inkling it would be a favourite. It follows Ruby and Sam, who spend one amazing night together right after he gets to London and right before she moves to Manchester. Ruby is a student filmmaker and I loved her passion for it, as well as her project searching for an elderly man called JP’s long lost love. Meanwhile, Sam is trying to adjust to life in London, and deal with the end of his long term relationship. Ruby and Sam have an instant connection, and it’s easy to understand why they both want to be together despite the obstacles in their path. I absolutely loved side character Jackson as well, and the fact that so many of the secondary cast also found love made me so happy too; the whole book was just about love and the importance of it in all its myriad forms. The miscommunication trope works so well here too, and although I was quite stressed for the last few chapters, I loved the way things turn out in the end. I’m ever so excited for Laura’s very first Christmas book, Just for December, as well!

Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall (tw: sexual assault)

I’ve wanted to read Alexis Hall for what feels like EONS, and then I saw that my library had this and I don’t know that I’ve ever clicked a reservation button faster. It follows a woman named Rosaline, who is a single mum to her ridiculously clever and adorable daughter Amelie, and her journey of entering a show that’s essentially a riff on the Great British Bake Off (Bake Expectations, I mean COME ON, of course this was a five star prediction) and the kind of love triangle that ensues with some of the other contestants. Now, I knew for sure I’d be giving this 5 stars very early on, I think it was actually very possibly the first chapter, in which Rosaline absolutely SCHOOLS a teacher for being biphobic. I went back and reread it several times over the course of the book, in fact. On that note, the bi rep (at least imo) was *chef’s kiss* and Rosaline just worked so well for me as a character for so many reasons. Her relationship with Lauren was a joy, and her child legit made my heart sing (what am I, a Disney princess?!), as did the fact she has such a cute relationship with the person Rosaline ends up with. No spoilers, but I definitely preferred Harry to Alain, and i also need to mention Jennifer Hallett in here cause she’s one of my new favourite characters of all time not least because of the rusty egg whisk speech (iykyk)! I also enjoyed the commentary on class that’s quite an important part of the book, and all in all, I was just obsessed with this from start to finish. It also filled the hole Bake Off has left in my heart since it moved channels and became not as good, so while everyone is enjoying the new season and I’m over here being bitter about Prue Leith’s obsession with calories, I’ll be consoling myself with book 2 in the series which will no doubt end up in a post just like this. And you’d better believe I’ll be devouring Boyfriend Material ASAP as well!!

Lease on Love by Falon Ballard (tw: emotional abuse, parental bereavement)

I’ve had this on my tbr since before it was even out, and given the comparison to the Flatshare I was pretty sold on it on the synopsis alone, and then I picked it up to discover that the heroine Sadie has a background of emotional abuse, and the hero Jack has mental health issues and is dealing with parental bereavement, which made these characters even more instantly loveable; like seriously, all I wanted was for them both to realise how great they were as individuals, and of course, together. If you don’t know, this is about a woman named Sadie who is fired in a spectacularly dramatic fashion, who then needs to find a new apartment, leading her to Jack, who is looking for a roommate at an exceptionally low rate. The chemistry and care for each other was there from the outset, and I loved that they don’t fix one another, as you sometimes see in books like this, but they do inspire the other to get some help for their issues The friend group is a total delight, too, and I lowkey want to start a petition for a Gemma book because I loved her IMMENSELY. Some super steamy moments and the fact that Sadie and Jack are so supportive of one another despite their respective demons, just made this such a warm and lovely and enjoyable read. I can’t wait to read Just My Type!

Sadé and Her Shadow Beasts by Rachel Faturoti (tw: grief, parental bereavement)

I buddy read this with Izzy, and I was so excited about this one, partially because I share a very similar taste with the author (especially in Disney Channel Orginal Movies) so I was pretty sure I would absolutely vibe with her debut and I was, thrillingly, right. It’s about a girl named Sadé, whose mum has recently died, and she has been escaping into her own fantasy world for comfort, until things start going wrong and her creatures morph into something more malevolent and start spilling into the real world. At the same time, she’s trying to find her voice with spoken word poetry, and also navigate the challenges of her family dynamic changing and joining her school’s new grief support group. Sadé is such a wonderful character with so much depth and strength of character even though she doesn’t always see the latter, and her sibling relationships with her supportive older sisters are some of my favourites I’ve read in ages. I loved learning about elements of Nigerian culture as well, and Sadé’s imaginary world is so interesting and beautiful and I’d be so down to read a spinoff set there as well, in fact. Oh, and like I said to Rachel after I read it, this has the first “that’s what she said” joke I’ve ever read in middle grade, and I’m SO HERE FOR IT. I’m obsessed with that kind of Brooke Davis energy, and it made me laugh, and I think Rachel is such a talent.

Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon (tw: discussion of depression)

I read this for a readathon I just took part in, and it was undoubtedly my favourite of that week; it just worked for me on so many levels. First of all, I was a Parent Trap devotee as a child (Lindsay Lohan, ilysm) and I really enjoyed that Netlfix movie Set it Up so the fact this centres on two newstation employees (eponymous weather girl Ari, and sweet, kind sports reporter Russell) trying to get their bosses (who used to be married) back together was a big tick straightzway. And then, I also found out the love interest is fat (MORE FAT REP IN ROMANCE FTW) and I seem to be weirdly drawn to romance books with precocious children being awesome (see my description of Amelie from Rosaline Palmer!), so Elodie was the icing on a cake I knew I’d already love. The bufding relationships are so cute, I loved the fact it’s set in a TV station and learning some more about that world, and I thought the depression rep was done so well (it made me cry). Also, it’s got to be said that the sex scenes in this are SO well written- they just work perfectly and feel integral to the story. I’ll definitely be picking up the Ex Talk now, too!

The Thief Who Sang Storms by Sophie Anderson

Sophie Anderson is such a consistently brilliant writer that when me and my pal Sophie (not t&e author!) decided to buddy read this, I knew it would end up in this post. It follows the journey of an alkonost (who are descendants of the bird people of Slavic folklore, essentially) girl called Linnet, who dearly hopes to reunite her island, which was torn apart by a terrible accident three years before our book begins, despite not yet having her singing magic. The wprldbuiilding is so original and intriguing, and I love that Sophie always explores such fascinating myths and legends and folk tales that I’ve never heard of. And as per Sophie Anderson tradition, the animal companions are absolutely wonderful (of course this is the main thing I loved, cmon it’s ME), and though the ensemble cast is large, Silver and Echo were my personal favourites, alongside bold, bravehearted Linnet who wants to use her voice for her good. There’s a twist near the end that I LOVED, and I think the message of forgiveness and rehabilitation is beautiful, particularly given the seemingly endlessly tumultuous times we’re living in. I can’t wait to see what Sophie (the author!) does next, even though I can’t believe she’s going onto her 5th book!

The Treekeepers by Kieran Larwood (recieved a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

I’m a big Five Realms fan, and I also really enjoyed Carnival of the Hunted, but something about the synopsis of this just really called to me and I’m so happy about how much I adored it. I read it with Izzy, a common theme in this post, and I loved discovering the lands of Skyra with her. It takes place in a world where the magical Undrentree gives the people who live there powers, and a dangerous shadow twin tree named Bitterblight threatens to destroy everything. Shape-shifting Liska, our desperate to prove herself protagonist, decides to journey across the land in order to find a way to save her tree and her people from certain death, as well as earning herself a celebratory stripe. She is joined by Lug- who lacks confidence in himself and his powers but learns to appreciate them, and a ghost girl named Elowen, and they’re being pursued by an incredibly sinister hunter who will kill them if she tracks them down. And we also have the MAGNIFICENT Fishbone the kittimew- I don’t even know what to say about him other than that he’s hands down one of the best characters I’ve ever read, and reminiscent of Dominique Valente’s beloved Oswin. The worldbuilding is lush and complex, the magic system is detailed and unique, and I loved the various twists and turns the story takes, lots of which I hadn’t seen coming. I absolutely can’t wait for the next book in the series, although I’m unsure if it’ll follow the same group of characters as this was such a satisfying standalone. Nevertheless, I’ll be reading it as soon as possible!

The Eternal Return of Clara Hart by Louise Finch (recieved a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

(Tw: misogyny, violence against women and girls)

I’ve known Louise on socials since before this was even announced, so I had such high hopes for it already, and then no fewer than 4 people had told me it would blow my mind with how good it was and also that it explores violence against women and misogyny and rape culture, so obviously my ears PERKED UP at that. It’s from the point of view of Spence, who is caught in a time loop of the day a girl called Clara Hart hits his car and then later dies at his best friend’s party. I’ve had issues with Groundhog Day style books before, in that they felt dull and repetitive, but that wasn’t a problem here because Spence is constantly trying new things so he can find the key to saving Clara’s life, which gets closer and closer the more he realises that his best friend Anthony has become someone he barely recognises, because of the toxic masculinity and misogyny. The pace never lets up- I was utterly gripped all the way through- and I think telling the story from Spence’s perspective was genius, and shows the importance of men standing up against this kind of stuff too. If you enjoyed You Can Trust Me, I think this is also a must read, even though this is obviously very different in terms of genre and style. The Revelry by Katherine Webber If you’ve been around here for a while, you will know that I was a diehard Wing Jones fan back in the day (I actually want to reread it before the end of this year!), and I also really liked Only Love Can Break Your Heart, so I knew a new YA book from this author would be an ABSOLUTE TREAT. It follows best friends Bitsy and Amy, who live in this superstitious small town, where every year there is a party in the woods called the Revelry for the class that’s about to become seniors. Amy convinces Bitsy to sneak into this year’s Revelry, even though it isn’t theirs, and then afterwards Bitsy is unable to remember what happened and it seems like she’s been cursed with misfortune, while Amy has been blessed with good luck. Female friendship is at the forefront of this story, and I feel like it explores all of the beauty and complexity of it in equal measure; they may not always like one another very much, but their love for each other is so clearly fierce and eternal. The spooky, small town atmosphere of Ember Grove worked so well for me too, as it so often does in fiction, possibly because I’m a very superstitious person generally, and Skyler is this phenomenal enigmatic figure who added so much mystery and intrigue. I couldn’t put this down, and even though I know lots of people who’ve read it, I still feel like it’s so underrated. Also, such a fun coincidence I feel like I have to share: I ended up reading this on the author’s birthday completely by accident! I can’t wait to see what Katherine writes next as well, because I think she’s one of our very best UKYA authors.

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing (tw: all off page, but lots of murder)

This has been on my TBR for literal years, and I finally got it out of the library so I could read it with Sophie, and it’s so dark and twisty and weird, but it also totally worked for me, I can’t lie. It’s about a husband and wife serial killer duo, who cook up a plan to help them get away with these murders that they credit with keeping the spice alive in their marriage, and then they also have to deal with the ramifications on their family and their life in general, some of which are very unexpected. The main thing I have to say about this is that it’s such a masterclass in pacing- I couldn’t quite bring myself to put it down till I was finished and had unravelled all of the mysteries within. Some of the twists caught me off guard and made me GASP, and I also kind of loved It’s also slightly risky to admit this, lest you all think I’m a budding serial killer, but it’s so witty and funny in places that I literally snorted a couple of times. I’m definitely going to be reading more Samantha Downing, and given the end of this one, I kind of really want a sequel someday! (Although, as I live in Scotland, I’d possibly have to move afterwards if I ever wanted to leave my house again)

The Spectaculars by Jodie Garnish (recieved a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

Someone with very similar taste to me told me this was so good it had felt like reading Nevermoor for the first time (hi Paris, if you read this!), and as far as I’m concerned that’s basically the biggest compliment you can give a book, so I was unbelievably excited when I started this and it didn’t let me down. I genuinely don’t even know where to START raving, because I just loved everything about it. It’s about a girl named Harper who discovers she is a Spectacular (performers with magical abilities) after people turn up in a flying canoe to take her away to the Grand Wondria Theatre and Music Hall to learn her craft. The characters in this are so vivid that they feel real to me: Harper is a determined and strong and clever heroine; Trick is one of the best best friend characters I think I’ve ever read and there’s a twist with him I just can’t get over; Fletcher is very possibly my new book crush and I loved the rest of the teachers too; I’m excited to learn more about Harper and Trick’s classmates in future books as well and the villain is SO MENACING. The worldbuilding can only really be described as ingenious and intricate, and with every chapter I just fell a little bit more in love with this book. I can absolutely guarantee you I’ll reread this at some point, possibly even before book 2 comes out, or maybe after we’re a couple books into the series for gorgeous, magical comfort vibes, and I just can’t wait to see where this story goes next. Let’s give Jodie a standing ovation, please!!

The Mermaid Call by Alex Cotter (recieved a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

I really enjoyed Alex Cotter’s middle grade debut the House on the Edge last year, and when I saw this being announced I just had a suspicion it would work really well for me, particularly because I have always longed to live in a village where they have a competition like the Mermaid Crown (the one in the place I’m talking about is called the Herring Queen, just as an aside!) and then I discovered it has a plotline with the suffragettes and I just KNEW I’d be completely and utterly head over heels. You can probably imagine the squeals of utter delight when Nosy Crow got in touch to ask if I’d like a copy!! It follows a girl named Vivien, who has always felt like an outsider, as she navigates friendship and family troubles, as well as an adventure with her new friend Alice, as they set about discovering the truth about their village’s various past mysteries and the mermaid that supposedly resides in Lake Splendour. Vivien’s feeling of not being good enough is so relatable and it genuinely just about broke my heart reading about how she feels, and I loved seeing her confidence grow as a result of the book. Her friend Erik is such a wonderful person, too, and Alice is such a complicated and fascinating character with quite a difficult yet simultaneously privileged family, that it was wonderful to see her develop throughout the story as well. The writing is so beautiful and there’s some extremely effective imagery, and as I’ve alluded to above in several places, I’m a sucker for small town or village settings and this one- with all its’ fabulous, punny shop names- was no exception. I’m beyond excited to see what Alex writes next for this age category, and I’m also VERY tempted to go back and read her backlist under the name Alex Campbell too (as if my TBR needs any more books on it!)

Thank you so much for reading! What have been your favourite reads, lately? Have you read or are you planning to read anything I’ve included? I can’t tell you how much 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

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