Make More Noise Part 1 Reviews

Hello everybody!

Today, I’m going to be sharing my reviewsof the first half of the Make More Noise anthology, published by Nosy Crow to celebrate the centenary of the Representation of the People Act in 1918. The reason it’s going to be in halves is that I read it with my friend Louise, and we’ve swapped a few posts with each other; Louise will be reviewing this half here too, and my reviews for the second half will be on her blog. Onto the post!

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March Reviews

Hello everybody!

Today, I’m going to be sharing my reviews for all the books I read in March. Onto the post!


Truly, Wildly, Deeply by Jenny McLachlan (received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

This is the story of Annie, who has cerebral palsy, as she starts college in a bid to make a more independent fresh start. We follow her as she makes new friends, and meets Fab, which sparks a will they won`t they romance I was rooting for completely. After being initially unsure, I loved them together, and there are some very swoony scenes between them. Annie was a wonderful main character; I loved her phenomenal, bitingly funny narration, which had little comments throughout that made me chuckle an awful lot as I read this. Though I can`t comment as to the accuracy of the cerebral palsy representation, it seemed well handled and I did like that Annie challenges the ableist attitudes she encounters. Another thing I enjoyed was the way Wuthering Heights was weaved throughout the plot, as despite never having read it, I never felt it was jarring and it added something to the plot. Finally, I have to mention that I loved seeing some cameos from characters who were in Stargazing for Beginners, in which Annie was a supporting character, and it`s made me very hopeful there may be a book for each member of the Broken Biscuit Club. 5/5

The Chocolate Factory Ghost by David O`Connell and illustrated by Claire Powell (received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

Set in the fictional village of Dundoodle in Scotland, this tells the story of Archie as he inherits McBudge`s Fudge Factory and must solve a series of puzzles in order to find a hidden missing ingredient required to make the fudge special. I thought the characters were great, especially Archie though I did also quite like his new friends, and getting to meet some of the McBudge`s Fudge staff. The puzzles were so clever, so much so I can only wish I had been able to solve a few, not to mention that I liked them all the more for being themed around sweets. Though I didn’t get to see all of the illustrations as I read a proof, I really liked those I did see and I think this would be a great read for fans of Goodly and Grave. I`m looking forward to the next Dundoodle Mystery, particularly after the very interesting revelations at the end. 4/5

Inferno by Catherine Doyle

All through reading this, the question I couldn`t stop asking myself was why on EARTH it took me so long to get to it. It`s tense, dramatic and thrilling as Sophie continues to be embroiled in the feuds of Chicago`s dangerous mafia families. It`s absolutely edge of the seat material in a lot of places, with fast paced action and twists that left me reeling from sheer shock. I also adore Sophie, who was a brilliant main character. She`s incredibly strong but we also see her being relatable in how tough she finds everything she has to deal with. Her friendship with Millie was yet another fabulous aspect as they`re so supportive of each other, and Millie is a great character in her own right too. A final thing that contributed to my immense enjoyment of Inferno was the love triangle. There are some excellent romantic scenes with both Nic and Luca, including one that reminded me of Romeo and Juliet, and I`m personally Team Luca all the way! 5/5

Mafiosa by Catherine Doyle
After how much I loved Inferno, I didn`t waste any time in getting to Mafiosa, which was an unpredictable, explosive and wholly satisfying conclusion to this trilogy, which focuses on Sophie, whose life becomes entangled with mafia families. In this instalment, the blood war rages on, and it`s more dangerous than ever before, and Sophie must also make her final choice between Nic and Luca. The characters and their relationships with each other developed even more than they did in Inferno, and I found it interesting how my views on everyone changed (more than once, in most cases), and very dramatically in a few cases. It also delved deeper into the romances, with some amazing moments, and given my allegiance I especially enjoyed those between Sophie and Luca. Millie and Sophie are still total friendship goals, the action and drama the mafia war provides is tense (to say the least) as I had no idea whatsoever who I could trust and I cannot imagine a better or more bittersweet ending to this series. 5/5

The List of Real Things by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald (received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

As I was a huge of Sarah`s previous novels, I was looking forward to this, but though I liked aspects a lot, I had mixed feelings. It`s about sisters Grace and Bee as they navigate their grief over losing their parents a few years prior and another member of their family during the book, while Grace also attempts to teach Bee, who is perceived by her family to be imagining things, the difference between fact and fiction. I liked their complicated but ultimately loving sibling relationship, and those between them and the other members of their family, which were similarly troubled yet touching in how much they care for each other. The other thing I really enjoyed was the magical realism element, and I wish there had been some more of it, as the scene in which it is most prominent was wonderful. The final thing I liked about the book was that the prose was stunning, but there were also things I didn`t like as much, such as finding it really slow paced till around halfway through, and I found the blurb quite different to the events of the book. I`ll still be reading whatever the author writes next, but ultimately this wasn`t what I expected 3.5/5

Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron (received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

In her debut novel, Sophie Cameron whisks us off to Edinburgh (YAY Scottish setting!), in a world where `Beings` have began to fall from the sky. The concept and worldbuilding was amazing, and I loved it. I also thought that Jaya was a great main character as she reacts in a very relatable way to finding the first live being, and attempting to hide it from her dad, who has made a hobby out of searching for one in a bid to cope with Jaya`s mum`s death. Both learning more about how Jaya`s mum died, along with Jaya exploring her grief in the present, and the plot of protecting the Being alongside her new friends Allie and Callum kept me completely hooked. Allie and Callum were great supporting characters; they had their own issues they have to address throughout the novel, and a bickering, fun sibling relationship which made me laugh. With an ending that both made me smile and shed a tear, this is a superb contemporary/magical realism hybrid that`s left me excited for whatever Sophie releases next. 4.5/5

A Far Away Magic by Amy Wilson

Once I adapted to the unusual, lyrical writing, I really enjoyed Angel and Bavar`s story. Angel is reeling from the loss of her parents in very strange circumstances, and Bavar is grappling with meeting his destiny, which is related to Angel`s parents` death. I loved watching their friendship develop over the course of the novel as it was so sweet in places yet still went through ups and downs, and I thought the magic was fascinating. It wasn`t quite like anything I`ve ever seen in a fantasy or magical realism before, and that there were several components to it made it even better. I also liked the little flashes of humour, particularly those provided by Bavar`s ancestors (who are one of the aforementioned components of magic). The book was hugely exciting towards the conclusion, and I`m excited to delve into Amy Wilson`s next imagined world. 4/5

Beyond the Odyssey by Maz Evans (received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

I`m a huge fan of this series, which centres around the life of young carer Elliot Hooper as he meets the Greek gods, who have abandoned Olympus and now live on Earth with him and his mum, who has dementia. They`re searching for the Chaos Stones, to prevent Thanatos from ruling the world, and in this installment they`re also trying to track down a potentially mythical potion that could cure Elliot`s mum. This upped the game yet again from the excellent last book, maintaining the hilarious humour the series is known for, yet felt a little darker in tone and the stakes were incredibly high for Elliot. He has to face so much in this book, and every emotion he felt, I felt alongside him as I was so rooted in the world. We also get to see other characters we`ve met in the first two books, such as ultra-organised constellation Virgo and the gods/goddesses we`ve come to know and love, while also getting to meet some new ones who provided lots and lots of laughs. If you read my interview with Maz last year, you`ll know that I think her villains are truly awful, and much to my surprise they got even more evil this time. Some of their actions were utterly despicable, and the twists were so shocking I was left doing double takes at the book more than once. After the thrilling events of the climax and conclusion, I`m simultaneously desperate to get my hands on book four next year, and dreading how it`ll play with my emotions. 5/5

Smile by Mary Hoffman (received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

In this historical novella, Mary Hoffman tells the story of Lisa, which is inspired by who could be the inspiration for the famous painting by Leonardo Da Vinci. It sees her from when she`s very young, to her marriage and adapting to that life in her teens. The narrative was pleasant and easy to follow, if a little heavy on exposition, and I sympathised with Lisa, who has spent her entire life being prepared for marriage. I also enjoyed the historical aspects of both setting and featuring historical figures. I`ve never seen a book focus on Savonarola before, so it was fascinating to learn about it in a bit more depth, and also find out more about da Vinci and other artists of the period. On the whole, this was an informative and interesting read that fans of historical books will likely enjoy. 4/5

The Buried Crown by Ally Sherrick (received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

In a World War Two adventure story, Ally Sherrick tells the story of an evacuee boy George and a Jewish girl called Kitty as they become involved in searching for an ancient artefact, despite a dangerous opponent also being in search of the crown. The main thing I loved about this book were the characters. My heart was breaking for George at so many points, especially before he meets Kitty, and his kindness and bravery were wonderful. The prejudice Kitty and her grandfather faced made me livid, and I adored how clever Kitty was. My favourite though, was Spud, a dog who can only be described as a complete and utter darling, who I`d like for my own. I also detested the nastier characters, one of whom made my skin crawl. Though the book isn’t entirely historically accurate, I did enjoy the World War Two setting, and I especially liked that the book showed how the war tore families apart both in Britain and in Germany. The adventure plot is also lots of fun to follow, and I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which always had me desperate to keep reading. 4.5/5

Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean (received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

Based partially on real events, this focuses on a group of boys who are stranded on Warrior Stac after fowling season, and are left believing the world has ended, as no one has come to collect them. I took a little while to get into this, possibly as it`s rather bleak (particularly given it`s aimed at an MG audience), but it was a good read overall. The observations it makes on human nature were thought provoking, and the writing style was absolutely beautiful. I also felt that I got to know all of the characters really well as they were so well drawn and seeing the relationships between them change over the course of the book was another thing I enjoyed about the book. The tension definitely increases the longer they are left on the island, reaching fever pitch at some points, and even though I struggled slightly with the book in places I very much wanted to know how it would all end. Speaking of the ending, the truth about why they were stranded is heartbreaking, and I could hardly believe it happened in real life. This is one to save for a day when you`re in the mood for something darker than most MG, but it`s well worth a read. 4/5


What books have you read this month that you’d recommend? What are your thoughts on the ones I’ve read? Are any on your TBR? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx

A Change is Gonna Come Anthology Review

Hello everybody!

Today, I’m going to be reviewing the stories of acclaimed anthology A Change is Gonna Come, featuring 12 BAME writers writing on the theme of change, which I finally got round to reading this month after owning it since the day it was released. Onto my thoughts!

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February Reviews

My reviews of all the books I read in February!

Hello everybody!

Today, I`m going to be sharing my reviews for the books I`ve read in February, and I`ve had a really good reading month despite not reading quite as much as I did in January. Onto the reviews!

Battle of the Beetles by M.G Leonard and illustrated by Karl J Mountford

Had you told me before I started them that I`d be such a fan of this series, I wouldn`t have believed you, but boy, am I a fan of this series. It started wonderfully with Beetle Boy in 2016, upped the ante with Beetle Queen last year, and has now concluded perfectly with Battle of the Beetles. If you`ve been living under a rock and haven`t heard of these books, they`re about a young boy called Darkus stumbling upon some very special beetles and his subsequent involvement in attempting to stop Lucretia Cutter, a scientist/fashion designer with dark intentions, from using them to wreak havoc on the world. The younger characters are as brave, funny and clever as always and guardian Uncle Max is an excellent adult figure, but the one I want to mention most of all is Lucretia Cutter, who is a masterclass in writing a villain. She is absolutely one you love to hate, but at the same time you can see why she is doing some of what she is (though she is of course, still evil, and I do not support her, to clarify!). This was a truly exciting adventure, and I stayed up until the early hours to finish it as I couldn`t go to sleep without knowing the ending. The final scene brought a huge smile to my face, and captured exactly why I love the main quartet of characters and these books so very much. 5/5

The Witch`s Blood by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr (received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

Picking up directly from the jaw dropping cliffhanger in book 2, this continues the story of teenage witch Merry as she and her friends/family tackle a new magical problem. First of all, Merry is a wonderful protagonist, and I thought she was even more strong and determined in achieving her aims in this instalment of the series. I loved the way in which her relationship with Finn developed, and I was rooting for them desperately to succeed in their romance despite the difficult situations they were in throughout the book. The secondary characters, most notably Merry`s lovely brother Leo and Finn`s cousin, who was introduced in this book, are also excellent additions to the cast, and I enjoyed the complicated dynamics of Merry`s coven, which is responsible for a lot of the conflict within the book, as well as a deeply horrible villain I don`t want to mention for fear of spoiling someone who hasn`t read the 2nd book yet! The ways in which the contemporary and fantasy elements intersect is really interesting too, and I also thought the magic system was fantastic as it both refers to back to elements we`ve seen in previous books and introduces new ones. I hadn`t expected the ending to go where it did, but it was a brilliant conclusion that`s left me looking forward to whichever of their secret projects Kate and Liz release next. 4.5/5

When the Mountains Roared by Jess Butterworth (received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

Given how much I loved Running on the Roof of the World, this book had to meet high expectations, and it most definitely did for me. It tells the story of Ruby, as her family move very suddenly from Australia to India, taking with them a collie dog called Polly and a smuggled kangaroo joey, and stumbling upon a sinister poaching plot on the mountains on their arrival. Ruby was a superb heroine, and I defy anyone not to love her; I thought she was incredibly brave both in her efforts to investigate/halt the poaching operation and in coming to terms with her grief and guilt over her mum`s tragic death prior to the beginning of the book. Another aspect of her I loved was her love for animals, which shone through on every page, as I really related to that feeling. On that note, the animal characters are beyond endearing and lovely, and I loved each and every one, including both of those I`ve mentioned already, a leopard cub, some adorable goats and several others. Another character who I absolutely have to mention is Ruby`s wise, witty and generally wonderful Grandma. Jess`s vivid, stunning prose brings the Indian setting to life in a way that makes you feel as if you`re in the world alongside the characters; experiencing every sense and emotion they are. I cried more than once reading this, and I could barely put it down during the time I spent with it as I just had to learn the fate of the characters as soon as possible. Yet another triumph from an author who is fast becoming an all time favourite of mine.5/5

Squirrel Meets World by Shannon and Dean Hale

In this prequel to the Squirrel Girl comics (which I`ve never read), we see Doreen Green using her powers for the first time as a villain decides to make her their adversary. First of all, while I did have mixed feelings on the books, I did quite enjoy it overall, and it was a fun plot. I loved the chapters narrated by Tippy Toe the squirrel and the worldbuilding of the squirrel community/world was fantastic, I was thrilled to see representation of a character with hearing aids in the form of Ana Sofia and Doreen`s texts where she attempts to seek advice from the Avengers about her budding superhero career with hilarious results that often made me smile. However, I struggled a bit with Doreen as a character, and I found some of the plot quite predictable, which meant I wasn`t always desperate to pick it up again to see what would happen next. I`m unsure if I`ll continue with this series, but even though not everything in this book was to my personal taste, I would still recommend this if you think it sounds like the sort of thing you`ll enjoy. 3.5/5

The Creakers by Tom Fletcher and illustrated by Shane Devries

I`m always wary of celebrity authors, but Tom Fletcher is one of the best I`ve read. His 2nd novel is the story of Lucy, as she wakes up one morning and discovers that all the adults in her town have disappeared, due to the mysterious Creakers. While I didn`t think it was quite as wonderful as in the Christmasaurus, I really enjoyed the worldbuilding, and the fact that the customs of the Creakers are so well explained. I liked the main trio, and thought the concept was fun, and I was rather surprised by one of the twists even though I saw a few others coming. I was also quite shocked by how sweet I found the Creakers (the majority of the time, anyway), which I put down to Shane Devries`s fantastic illustrations of them. A final thing I enjoyed about this was the way in which it`s narrated; by a sort of omniscient 3rd person narrator, who frequently breaks the fourth wall and addresses the reader. I`m looking forward to Tom`s next MG release already. 4/5

A Spoonful of Murder by Robin Stevens

As much as I love this series with every fibre of my being, I underestimated just how special it would be to return to the world of Daisy and Hazel. This instalment sees them journey to Hong Kong after a (natural) death in Hazel`s family, and on their return they learn that Hazel now has a brother, which could jeopardise her place in the family, and when he goes missing Hazel is not just the detective but a suspect. It was fascinating to see Hong Kong and be immersed in that culture, and the friendship between Hazel and Daisy is as gloriously complicated as ever. It was incredibly interesting to see Hazel as the one who understands the customs of the country and Daisy as the outsider, and I loved every single scene they share. They both shine as separate characters also; Hazel has developed so much from Murder Most Unladylike, and I feel so very proud of her with how well she handles everything she comes up against, as well as how kind and clever she is and it was lovely to see Daisy support her through her more vulnerable moments while retaining her usual humour and focus on catching the criminals. Finally, I thought the mystery was complex, and I adore the way the Robin drops enough clues to give you an idea of who is responsible, but throws in a twist you aren`t expecting too. This series goes from strength to strength every time, and I`m desperate for book seven already. 5/5

Artie Conan Doyle and the Gravediggers` Club by Robert J Harris

I was very intrigued by the premise of this series, as it focuses not on a younger version of Sherlock Holmes, but instead his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle. The story focuses on Artie and his friend Ham as they become embroiled in solving a mystery involving the rather horrible Gravediggers` Club. I found it interesting to learn more about his background and family, even though I`m not sure whether or not he really was a young sleuth. I thought the mystery was interesting and quite complex, and I loved the homages to Sherlock Holmes which pop up throughout. My favourite part of the book was definitely the friendship between Ham and Artie, especially as Ham isn`t a typical sidekick in that he doesn`t always just follow whatever Artie wants to do and stands up for himself, and also as I liked their bickering/banter. I would have liked this to be a little bit longer, but I think it`s a good start to the series and I look forward to reading the next. 4/5

Secrets of a Teenage Heiress by Katy Birchall

This is the start of a new series focusing on Flick, the future heiress of the luxury Hotel Royale, as she is grounded just as the world`s most famous popstar arrives for a stay, though that doesn`t stop her for long, of course! I adore concepts like this, and this book was no exception; I found it glamourous, hugely enjoyable and the perfect escapist reading I needed when I read it. The hotel is a phenomenal setting, which I really enjoyed learning more about alongside Flick, as this is her punishment during her grounding, and thought was a great example of contemporary worldbuilding. Flick was a complex character, and it was fascinating to see so many sides of her as I was reading, and her development was wonderfully written. I also loved almost every member of the side cast (except those you`re not meant to), though special mentions must go to “annoying” concierge`s son Cal (who had a fab sense of humour), Flick`s super sweet friend Grace and her stroppy, Instagram superstar daschund Fritz, who was beyond hilarious. It was really cool to see a few people from the It Girl books too. I was so happy to learn I only have a few months to wait on the sequel after finishing this, especially as I think a love triangle of sorts is being foreshadowed in this, and I`m both excited to see how those relationships develop and declare my allegiance ship wise! 5/5

Hounds and Hauntings by Janine Beacham

In her 3rd adventure, Rose and her companions must work to discover what (or who) is committing murders in Yorke in the way a legendary beast called the Barghest was rumoured to. I think Rose is an excellent detective, I loved the more prominent role Orpheus was able to play in this book, and the butlers were as magnificent as ever. It was also great to see some familiar secondary characters from the previous books. The mystery was very intriguing, with a conclusion I didn`t see coming at all, and as things felt much higher stakes I was rather worried about how everything would play out, leaving me glued to the book so I could find out. Something else I adore about these books, alongside all I`ve previously mentioned and the brilliant worldbuilding of Yorke (which is a historical/fantasy blend), is the sense of humour, which I find fabulous. I`m very hopeful this won`t be the last I see of Rose, Orpheus and the Silvercrest Hall butlers, as I think this series is super underrated, but if it is, this was an excellent conclusion. 4.5/5

Movie Night by Lucy Courtenay

Movie Night tells the story of best friends Hannah and Sol (who is in love with Hannah) as they make a New Year`s Resolution to watch a film together every month, and their feelings towards each other begin to change. First of all, I really liked and sympathised with the feelings of both main characters even though I slightly preferred Sol`s chapters, and I thought the supporting cast (especially Sol`s very humorous dads Andrew and Gareth, and his rather hilariously violent cat Nigel) were brilliant. I also enjoyed the dialogue between characters, which was brilliant and felt realistic, and I particularly liked Sol and Hannah`s scenes, as well as those between Lizzie and Hannah I was so pleased with the choices of films, as it not only featured two of my top five favourites, but reminded me of several others I want to see, and introduced me to a few I haven`t heard of that I may now seek out. I found this a bit slow paced in places, but I thought it was a super fun YA contemporary overall, and the ending made my heart happy in the exact way a good romcom does. 4/5

A Witch Alone by James Nicol (received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review)

In the long awaited sequel to The Apprentice Witch, James Nicol transports us back to Lull, to catch up with the now fully qualified Arianwyn as she takes on a dangerous secret mission from the High Elder. It was even better than the first book, and Arianwyn is still a brilliant main character. I especially like that we see her make mistakes in her role and her friendship with Salle, as it shows she isn`t perfect, and is a lovely message. The development and new challenges of Arianwyn and Salle`s aforementioned friendship feel realistic, but I love that they`re also always there for each other when they really need it. Other characters I thought were amazing were the feylings and Arianwyn`s lovely moon hare Bob. The plot was engaging and fun, and some scenes were rather intense, and I really felt this had a darker edge than the Apprentice Witch while maintaining the cosy, charming feeling that made me fall in love with that at the same time. After the shocking turn of events towards the end, I`m desperate to get my hands on book 3, and very, very hopeful it won`t be released with as long a gap as this one way. 4.5/5

The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson (received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review)

In her enchanting debut novel, a reimagining of the Russian Baba Yaga folk tale, Sophie Anderson tells the story of Marinka, who lives in a house with chicken legs with her grandmother Baba Yaga and is destined to become a Guardian and guide the dead through the Gate, but wants to escape that fate and live a normal life. This premise was so original, and I`m not sure whether this is only as I don`t know the folk tale, but some of the revelations that come about in this were so unexpected they made me gasp aloud. The prose of this book is completely stunning, almost poetic, and my heart absolutely broke for Marinka at some points as her first person narration meant I felt as though I was experiencing everything she goes through alongside her, and at times I felt as though I was going to cry (and if I`m honest, I did. More than once). Her animal companions Jack and Benji were so sweet, and I thought the supporting cast, especially the Old Yaga and Benjamin, were wonderful additions. However, my absolute favourite character in this book, which doubles as an incredibly vivid, unusual setting, was the house itself, which I feel has a personality and behaves like a character, and I had a lot of affection toward her. This is such a heartwarming, all round excellent read, and I`d definitely recommend picking up a copy after this is released. 5/5

Thank you so much for reading! Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Have I convinced you to read any? I`d love to hear from you in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl.

Amy xxx

January MG Reviews

Hello everybody!
Today, I`m going to be reviewing all of the middle grade books I read in January. Usually, I don`t read as much as I have this month (or don`t review a few as I wouldn`t rate them higher than 3 stars, my personal cut off for what I do and don`t review), but aside from a few DNFs early on in the book, I enjoyed all of the 20 books I got through this month. I thought 20 reviews in one post might be a bit much, so I decided to split them into middle grade and young adult posts (the YA one will be here in a few days!). Without further ado, onto the books!

The Snow Angel by Lauren St John

What a way to kick off my reading year the Snow Angel was! I`ve been a huge fan of Lauren`s work for years, and I thought this book was reminiscent of the White Giraffe series due to it having the same setting, but was also unique enough to stand out and feel very different. It is about Makena, who lives with her parents in South Africa until tragedy strikes and her life changes forever. From cruel relatives, to life in a slum, to having to begin again in Scotland, my heart was absolutely breaking for Makena during this book, and I cried more than once reading it. However, there are some beautiful, joyful moments too, such as the concept of having three magical moments every day, the friendship of Makena and Snow, and both when Makena discovers the foxes, and the mountains, of her new home. I also thought the ending was perfect for the story, and I very much recommend this if you enjoy contemporary MG with a hint of adventure. 4.5/5

How to Catch a Witch by Abie Longstaff

While I initially struggled to get into this, I definitely enjoyed the 1st book of Abie Longstaff`s middle grade series. It`s the story of Charlie, who moves to a new area and finds out that magic may be real after all, when she becomes embroiled in preventing quite a sinister plot. I really liked the way the book handles magic (it was very easy to understand but also interesting and had a logical system, which is something I like to see) and I thought Charlie was a relatable, interesting main character. I particularly appreciated the fact that she has a stammer, which seemed to be sensitively tackled (though I don`t have a stammer so can`t speak fully to that), as I can`t recall ever having read that even though it`s fairly common, and I was happy it didn`t prevent her from participating in the magic, and in fact is an asset. The other main character Kat, was also excellent. Finally, the book reminded me a bit of the World of Wishes series by Carol Barton, which was one of my absolute favourites when I was in the target age group, which was lovely, and I`ll definitely be picking up How to Bewitch a Wolf at some stage to go on another adventure in Abie`s world. 4/5

Rubies and Runaways by Janine Beacham

If anything, Rose Raventhorpe`s second adventure is even better than her first. I absolutely love the dry, witty narrative tone and I think that Rose is a really excellent heroine who is a great detective and glorious in the way she stands up for herself against what people expect of her (e.g in this book, she may have to marry her stuck up horrible cousin Herbert, and her retaliations/reactions to this) made me giggle more than once. As well as `Ghastly Herbert`, in this book Rose must investigate where a missing orphan is. The mystery is well plotted and paced, and I would never have guessed the exact outcome. The secret society of butlers continued to be a really cool concept well executed, and I love how their presence feels so natural to the stories, and the characters it allows to be part of them are brilliant (I particularly adore Bronson). I`m very much looking forward to reading Hounds and Hauntings at some point hopefully soon. 4.5/5

Sky Song by Abi Elphinstone

From the prologue till the last page, Sky Song captured me and took me to the magical kingdom of Erkenwald, which is under the rule of the evil Ice Queen, as young heroes Eksa and Flint attempt to rescue the kingdom from the queen`s plan to take over completely. The characters, Flint and Eksa, and also Flint`s little sister Blu, were wonderfully endearing characters who I wanted to succeed in their quest desperately, and the animal companions (particularly Pebble the fox) were so sweet and The Ice Queen, though not loveable, was a sinister, chilling villain. The book itself is excellently paced, and I was always eager to read on, and as previously mentioned the best way to describe it is simply magical. 4.5/5

The Light Jar by Lisa Thompson

After enjoying last year`s the Goldfish Boy, I was surprised that I liked Thompson`s 2nd novel even more. This is the story of Nate, as he and his mum move to a cottage in the country to escape his mum`s abusive partner Gary, but when his mum doesn`t return from shopping, Nate must navigate a few days on his own, aside from a few unexpected friends who involve him in a mystery linked to the past of the cottage. Nate was such a lovely character and I was so sympathetic to everything he went through, and the flashbacks to his life with Gary were so emotional, and showed that domestic violence isn`t always the stereotypical physical portrayal. I also really liked both of the other plot threads; the mystery, in which Nate hunts for a mysterious treasure with Kitty, who lives nearby and the magical realism of the imaginary friends, which had really intriguing, well done worldbuilding, and isn`t a thing I`ve seen done often. The ending was incredibly heart-warming, and I`m already looking forward to seeing what Lisa Thompson does next. 4.5/5

I Swapped my Brother on the Internet by Jo Simmons and illustrated by Nathan Reed (received from publisher in exchange for an honest review)

While I wasn`t sure this was my sort of thing, I thought it was absolutely excellent younger middle grade. It`s about what happens when Jonny swaps his older brother Ted on new website Sibling Swap, and gets a few more brothers than he bargained for. There are a variety of bizarre new brothers, ranging from merboys to monarchs to meerkats, and I thought the concept was really clever, and imagine this idea would be even more relevant to those with siblings of their own. I think my favourite scene had to be those with Henry the 8th as they were laugh out loud funny in places, and I would highly recommend this book. There was also a mystery element to the plot, which I totally (and shamefully, for a mystery fan) didn`t pick up on over who ran Sibling Swap, and I was rather surprised at the outcome of that. I highly recommend this if you enjoy some funny middle grade and are looking for something that`ll give you a giggle. 4.5/5

The Curse in the Candlelight by Sophie Cleverly

The 5th in the Scarlet and Ivy series was as gothic and mysterious as ever, as new pupil Ebony McCloud arrives, and seems to have an unnatural influence over both pupils at Rookwood and the staff. I still loved both of the twins, but funny, feisty Scarlet is my favourite for sure, and I`m so glad we now have a dual narrative that includes both the twins so I can have both perspectives. Another interesting point of this was that the relationship between the twins and their friend Ariadne was further explored, and it felt like a realistic scenario of not knowing how to fit in with each other and the tensions that could cause, and also touched on the idea of giving people a second chance. The mystery itself was also rather creepy, and I had no idea what would happen till almost the very end (I am far too easy to fool with mystery books, even though I read loads of them!), which kept me hooked. If you want spooky and creepy MG mysteries with a hint of possible magic that still have a sense of humour, these are the books for you. 4.5/5

Here Comes Hercules by Stella Tarakson and illustrated by Nick Robertson (received from publisher in exchange for my honest review)

While I didn`t dislike this, and enjoyed it for the most part, it didn`t quite fully meet my expectations. First, I did like main character Tim as I thought he was sweet and smart, and rather capable, and I always enjoy stories where mythology and modern day meet. This introduced some more basic aspects of Ancient Greece too, so it would be good to introduce readers from the age group to the concept before learning many of the actual myths. Another aspect of the book I thought was fun was that Hercules wasn`t as heroic or helpful as expected, and some scenes showing this were really humorous, so I do wish there had been a few more of these. However, I found some parts of the story, for example Tim`s mum`s job, unrealistic, and I thought the ending was a bit too abrupt, but I look forward to trying the sequel Hera`s Terrible Trap.3.5/5

The Mystery of Me by Karen McCombie and illustrated by Cathy Brett (received from publisher in exchange for an honest review)

This was my first Karen McCombie novella, but it won`t be my last. Somehow, she managed to pack in her trademark combination of humour and heart into a very small amount of pages, in telling the story of Ketty. Ketty has just had brain surgery, and this is the story of her returning to school and regaining her memory. As someone with some experience of this scenario myself, I thought it was spot on in capturing how overwhelming and exhausting and downright terrifying the whole thing is. I also really liked Ketty and seeing the world through her eyes for a while, and I thought Otis, who makes a special point of looking out for her, was lovely. I didn`t expect the twist that comes quite near the end at all. Cathy Brett`s illustrations also add to the book and made me like it even more, particularly the last image we see. 4.5/5

Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball by Laura Ellen Anderson

This book was quite different to my expectations of it, but I still liked the story as a whole. It`s about Amelia Fang, who lives in a fictional world called Nocturnia, as her family are arranging the Barbaric Ball and manage to draw out the king and his son from their palace for the first time in years. Amelia was an enjoyable heroine, her friends Florence and Grimaldi were both very distinct and unique, and the supporting characters such as Amelia`s family or butler Woo were great too. My favourite character was most certainly the adorable pumpkin Squashy, who is taken by the rather unpleasant prince and must be rescued, and Laura`s illustrations were absolutely wonderful and helped me visualise all these characters and like them even more. The story also took a few unexpected turns, particularly with regards to revealing more about the prince and why he`s been so unkind since meeting Amelia and her friends, and I`m intrigued enough by the twist that I`ll be reading more of Amelia`s stories as they are released. Finally, I thought the worldbuilding of Nocturnia was extremely clever as it not only subverts typical story conventions but also includes some adapted pop culture references which I smiled about when I found. 4/5

Wed Wabbit by Lissa Evans

In a gloriously imaginative tale, Lissa Evans transports Fidge to the world of her sister`s favourite books, after Fidge`s frustration with sister Minnie`s toy Wed Wabbit ends in disaster. In the world of Wimbley Woo, Wed Wabbit is now a dictator, and to find her way back home, Fidge must work with irritating cousin Graham, a toy elephant and a tiny carrot toy who thinks it`s a doctor, as well as negotiate Wimbley Woos and avoid the wrath of Wed Wabbit. The world is entirely unique, really does feel like the sort of thing a young child like Minnie would be obsessed with, and the tasks they must undertake themselves were exciting to follow along with. I thought Fidge was a brilliant heroine, and I was surprised that by the end Graham had really grown on me too, and the character development was subtle but very apparent. The toys were a sheer delight, particularly Dr. Carrot, and their journey was so fun to be part of. The humour in this, particularly at the beginning, also hugely appealed to me, and I found myself chuckling more than once. If you`re looking for a world like nothing you`ve read before, and want to have a surreal experience with a great group of characters, Wed Wabbit is the book for you. 4.5/5

The Nowhere Emporium by Ross Mackenzie

I read this when it first came out, but had forgotten about it. After this reread, I can`t see that happening again. I was drawn into orphan Daniel`s world straight away, and became more intrigued still when he stumbles into a rather unique world on the run from his bullies, and soon a delightful magical adventure ensues. Daniel`s new mentor Mr Silver is very mysterious, so I adored the flashback sections that allow the reader to piece together his past before Daniel, and his new friend Ellie do. The story revolves around the Nowhere Emporium, which is essentially a collection of incredible magic rooms, which Daniel is now assisting Mr Silver in running, as things start to go suddenly wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, the plot was perfectly paced and kept me utterly hooked (to the point where I read it in one glorious gulp over a Sunday afternoon) and the worldbuilding was quite honestly exceptional. All in all, I loved this a whole lot and I can`t wait to get my hands on the upcoming sequel the Elsewhere Emporium soon! 5/5

Thank you so much for reading! What did you think of these books, if you`ve read them? Have you got any on your TBR? Let me know down in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl

Amy xxx

November/December Reviews

Hello everybody!

Today I`m going to be sharing my reviews for November and December. I haven`t read as much as I`d have liked over both, but I have been rereading for most of December so it`s not too bad. Onto the books!

The Fabled Beast Chronicles series by Lari Don

While I initially found this series harder to get into than the Spellchasers trilogy, by just the 2nd book I was absolutely immersed in the story of Helen, a talented fiddler, as her life becomes entwined with the fabled beasts when a centaur turns up at her house and asks her to heal him and their subsequent thrilling adventures. I thought Helen was an amazing heroine; strong, capable and independent, and I loved getting to know the fabled beasts. My particular favourites were Sapphire the dragon and Yann the centaur, but I also enjoyed getting to see more in depth how most of the species lived and their customs through excellent worldbuilding over the course of the quartet. I really hope Lari Don has another middle grade fantasy series of some sort coming soon, as she`s a master of them. 4.5/5

A Place Called Perfect by Helena Duggan

In her debut novel, Helena Duggan tells the story of Violet as she moves to the unusually perfect town Perfect, and her journey of realising that all is not as it seems. There is a sense of sinister foreboding from the off, and the tension increases gradually until I was absolutely glued to the book towards the end. Alongside the mystery plot of working out what`s gone wrong with the town and who`s behind it, I liked the friendship between Violet and Boy a lot, and them as individuals, and the secondary characters (good and evil alike) jumped off the page. On that note, the worldbuilding was so well done that I felt as if I were actually in Perfect with the characters, and the multi layered backstory was fabulous. I`m not sure where this will go in the sequel, but I`ll definitely be reading to find out. 4.5/5

The Polar Bear Explorers` Club by Alex Bell (illustrated by Tomislav Tomic)

Alex`s first foray into the middle grade genre is, in my eyes, is an example of MG at its very finest. It tells the tale of Stella Starflake Pearl, who longs to be an explorer, as she sets off with her adopted father Felix on her first expedition and ends up separated from the main group along with the three other children of the voyage. I absolutely adored the group dynamics, and each character. Beanie was particularly delightful (he is quite possibly one of my new favourites of all time) but I also liked wolf whisperer Shay (I want to whisper with animals, please), Stella was an excellent leader, and it was so interesting to see how initially hostile Edward developed over the course of their journey. I also fell in love with the different animals and magical creatures the group encounter over the book (except, of course, the baddies) and loved how the book moved from one magical incident to another fluidly and always furthered either the relationships or plot. In case it`s not clear, I was completely obsessed with this book from beginning to end, and I have my fingers very tightly crossed for a sequel (or ten). 5/5

Undercover Princess by Connie Glynn

While I had expected to adore this book, it didn`t quite live up to my expectations. The writing style wasn`t especially to my taste, and I struggled to get to grips with the overcomplicated mystery plot, which never felt entirely linked to me. However, there were also parts of the book I enjoyed more. I liked the main trio, especially main character Lottie herself, and the friendships they strike up, as well as the unique and interesting system of monarchy, and getting to see both the dangerous and glamourous aspects of this. I also liked the ending, which was genuinely surprising and will probably lead me to pick up the second in the series at some stage after it`s released. 3.5/5

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth (received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

I went into this book with no idea of what it was going to be like, except knowing that it focused on Cameron Post as she grew up in a rural area in the 80s and explored her sexuality as a lesbian. I really liked Cameron as a character as I thought she was resilient, sometimes funny in her narration and strong, while also being flawed, and I also liked some of the secondary characters, especially those she meets during the 2nd half of the book after her aunt takes the drastic action alluded to in the blurb. Another thing I found interesting about the book, although it was a minor inclusion, was that Cameron`s aunt has neurofibromatosis (the condition I`m believed to have, albeit not the type it`s suspected I personally have and she experiences it very differently), which I was quite emotional to see represented in a book for the first time. However, there were also several aspects of the book I really struggled with. I found the first half of the book, which is rather long at almost 500 pages, incredibly slow to the point where I was close to DNFing, and I found the prose too “purple”. Overall, this was a book I learnt quite a lot from, but it wasn`t my cup of tea. 3/5

The Ghost Light by Sarah Rubin

I see very little buzz around the Alice Jones mysteries online, but I`ve thoroughly enjoyed both instalments so far. This book tells the story of Alice, who lives in Philadelphia, as she becomes in another mystery, this time involving sabotage and scary accidents at a local theatre. I love what a clever, independent heroine Alice is, and the colourful characters who surround her from her lovely journalist dad to arrogant film stars starring in the seemingly cursed, haunted play. I also thought the conclusion to the mystery was interesting as I only partially guessed the culprit, and there were several surprises. I did, however miss the presence of Sammy from the Impossible Clue, and thought the book felt quite different in tone too, but overall I think these are definetely underrated and I’d like a few more in the series. 4/5

The Secret Hen House Theatre by Helen Peters

After having this recommended to me, I decided to pick it up and give it a go. I found it initially quite hard to get into and connect with narrator Hannah, but I soon did and was swept up in this contemporary middle grade tale of a girl trying to save her family`s farm from being sold when the landlord bumps up the rent, while also putting on a play. It has the same whimsical, modern classic feel that Natasha Farrant captured in the Bluebell Gadsby series, and it features a large group of siblings. I loved that things weren`t perfect between the family in the slightest but they were still always there for each other and the gentle humour sprinkled throughout the book. I worried desperately about the characters till the end as there were so many twists when I thought they were nearing a happy ending, though I did love the one they eventually got. 4.5/5

Hole in the Middle by Kendra Fortmeyer

After seeing an excerpt from this book, I knew I wanted to read it, but the reality was very different to what I`d imagined. I didn`t find the book anywhere near as funny as I`d hoped, though I did find the plot of Morgan`s treatment for the hole in her torso interesting. I also liked the romance between her and Holden, as despite it being an odd addition after their initial reaction to one another they shared some lovely moments. Another element of the plot I enjoyed was the way the media treats Morgan, and finally the dysfunctional relationship between Morgan and her mother. I was less keen on the aspects previously mentioned, Morgan`s narrative style and the rather abrupt ending. 3.5/5

Rocking Horse War by Lari Don

After loving both the Spellchasers trilogy and the Fabled Beast Chronicles, I had high expectations for Rocking Horse War and it delivered. While I initially struggled to get into it, and I hadn`t realised for some reason it was set historically, I was very intrigued by Pearl`s story of waking up one morning and discovering her troublesome triplet siblings gone. She becomes tangled up in mysterious magic, and must battle to take the triplets home. I liked Pearl a lot; she was so determined and focused, and never gave up. Another thing I thought was great was that we got to see the impact of the first world war on a family, which isn`t especially common but I find fascinating. Finally, as always, Lari Don`s worldbuilding and magic system was exceptionally well done, particularly as we are learning more about it along with Pearl gradually so it never feels like an infodump despite the small page count. 4.5/5

The Many Worlds of Albie Bright by Christopher Edge

This was a lovely read, and I`m so glad I finally picked it up. It tells the story of Albie, whose mum has just died, and his experiment with quantum physics to try and find a universe she`s still in. It was a slice of life style format where we see a few hours in the lives of Albie`s counterparts (my personal favourite of which was Alba) and I found it such an original, clever idea. I also thought that Albie was a really sweet character, and unusually for me I actually grasped most of the science and never found it to overwhelm Albie`s journey. I definitely want to read more from Christopher Edge in 2018. 4.5/5

Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy (received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

Vashti Hardy`s debut is so incredibly special, and I can`t wait for everyone to be able to read it. It`s about twins Arthur and Maudie as they set off on a skyship adventure and attempt to clear their dad`s name of stealing fuel from another ship on his last expedition. I absolutely loved the twins, and their relationship with one another, and I thought the secondary characters added to the story marvellously. The thought wolves, especially gentle, noble Tuyok were simply incredible, and more than one part of this book left me breathless and in tears because I fell so hard for this world and these characters. Another addition I liked hugely was that it championed STEM, and I was impressed with it tackling disability, a real rarity in fantasy worlds, with Arthur only having one arm. I guessed a twist or two but I still had quite a few surprises, and after the conclusion I`m already desperate for the sequel. 5/5

The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher (illustrated by Shane Devries)

I`ll admit I was pretty sceptical going into this, seeing it`s by a celebrity author, but the overwhelming praise in the bookish community and shiny, pretty gold cover convinced me to pick it up, and I`m really glad I did. It`s the story of William Trundle as he faces ableist bullying at school until he receives a magical (and unintentional) Christmas gift from Santa that changes his life. I really liked William as a character, and the way his disability is portrayed, and I also had fun getting to know the multi layered secondary characters. Shane Devries` illustrations were a fantastic addition, and the book zips along at a great pace. My absolute favourite bit of this book, though, was the superb worldbuilding of the North Pole, which made this a truly magical read and I think children would adore it. 4.5/5

Sky Chasers by Emma Carroll (received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review

Having been excited for this book since the day it was announced, I was absolutely thrilled when it came through my door. I was gripped by the story of Magpie, a young orphan/pickpocket living in France as she becomes unexpectedly involved in a bid to become the first country to fly a hot air balloon. Emma Carroll`s writing is as beautiful and lyrical as ever, and never falls down the trap of going too far with this in favour of advancing the plot. I also adored Magpie as a character as she was so brave, clever and really deserving of the happiness she finds by the end, as well as her friend Pierre and the incredibly sweet animals; Coco, Voltaire and Lancelot. I got through this in two sittings despite having very little time to read at the time, as I couldn`t wait to see what would happen next. I`m so excited for Emma`s next book already! 5/5

Thank you so much for reading! Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Are any on your TBR? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx