May Reviews 2018

Hello everybody!

Today, I`m going to be reviewing all of the books I read in May, apart from Northern Lights as it`s so well known and beloved by so many it just felt very odd trying to review it! Given I had only read 5 books by the 16th May, I`m incredibly pleased with how much I managed to read!


<!–more–>

What Lexie Did by Emma Shevah (received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

This is about Lexie, a young Greek Cypriot, as a new girl and her family arrive in their close-knit community and this sets in motion a chain of events in which Lexie tells a lie about a family heirloom that threatens to break her family, and her friendship with cousin Eleni, apart forever. The friendship Eleni and Lexie had was so sweet, and I absolutely adored the heart-warming big family dynamic of the book. I thought Lexie was a fantastic character even though she has flaws, and I thought the situations she faces, such as how people treat her when she `tells tales` are incredibly relatable and will be to lots of people who read the book. The subtle humour throughout made me chuckle often, and while I was unsure how things would end for most of the book, I thought the climax and the ending fit the book perfectly. A truly lovely contemporary MG. 4.5/5

Sunflowers in February by Phyllida Shrimpton (received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

This book has such a unique premise, which I`ve never read anything similar to that I can recall; it`s the story of Lily, who wakes up one morning on the side of the road and realises she has died, and we follow her as she watches her family grieve and then later as she is given the chance to take over her twin`s body and be alive again for a few days. Lily was such a likeable character, and I felt so upset for her as I was reading, and I also loved seeing glimpses of her relationship with her twin Ben (the scenes between them made me shed quite a few tears). Watching her family grieve was deeply emotional, and though it was initially slightly confusing I thought being able to have Lily`s first person POV and a third person POV focusing on how others were feeling worked really well. Finally, I loved Lily`s narrative voice; the writing was absolutely exquisite in quality, yet it gave such a sense of her personality and felt authentic. 4.5/5

Max and the Millions by Ross Montgomery

This is the story of Max, who is deaf and attends a boarding school, as he discovers an incredible miniature civilisation (created by his school caretaker) who are desperately in need of his help (which I think is such a cool concept!). The story is told in a dual narrative, with 3rd person POVs of Max and Luke, who is the prince of the Blue group within the civilisation, and I found seeing both perspectives really interesting. The budding friendship between Max and Sasha was absolutely adorable and drives home the message that you shouldn`t make assumptions about people before you really get to know them. The humour in Luke`s sections provided plenty of chuckle-worthy moments, and I was a big fan of side character Ivy in his sections and Sasha`s sister/ the builders in Max`s. Even more than all this, I loved the fact that Max wore hearing aids. While my hearing loss is less profound than his, a lot of his experiences resonated, and it was amazing to have that as part of the book. 4/5

The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle by Victoria Williamson (received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

This book sees a Scottish bully called Caylin and a Syrian refugee called Reema who is newly arrived to Glasgow team up to save a fox and her cubs, discover a shared passion for running and forge a friendship that alters both of their lives, and it also explores their family lives/the grief they are navigating from the recent loss of family members. It is every bit as heartbreaking, yet ultimately heartwarming and uplifting as that description makes it sound. The characters are so complex and imperfect, yet I loved both of them a lot, and was beyond desperate for their lives to improve and for them to succeed with running. Their friendship was beautiful too; it took a while for them to move past their initial dislike of each other, but it was wonderful watching them support each other once they were friends. The book tackles alcoholism and depression, which Caylin`s mum has, and also explores how refugees may feel when arriving in a new country, which is an all too often ignored perspective, and both of these added to my love for the protagonists as I had so much sympathy for how much they had to face. I highly recommend this if you want to read a contemporary MG that make you consider what life would be like for people who have led very different lives to you. 4.5/5

Rose`s Dress of Dreams by Katherine Woodfine and illustrated by Kate Pankhurst (received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

This is part of Barrington Stoke`s Little Gems series, which are short, young MG stories with full colour illustrations, and this was a lovely first one to read. It`s a delightful story, and I think it`ll appeal to a lot of people. Kate Pankhurst`s illustrations are gorgeous, and my personal favourites were the one at the opening of chapter 3, and that on page 43. The descriptions of Rose`s designs were divine, and I was able to picture them vividly even without an accompanying illustration. Lastly, I really liked Rose as a character because she was so determined to achieve her dream, and it was interesting to learn that she was based on real historical figure Rose Bertin. 4/5.


The Jamie Drake Equation by Christopher Edge

This is the story of Jamie, whose dad is an astronaut, as he receives alien communication on his phone whilst his dad is away on a dangerous mission. Jamie was an incredibly endearing protagonist, and I also had a soft spot for Buzz and his granddad. I like that the book acknowledges women can be astronauts and scientists too, and I also liked the message that families don`t have to be conventional to be happy that`s shown throughout. Like with the Many Worlds of Albie Bright, I felt the science elements complemented the contemporary storyline, and is better explained than science in the vast majority of books. 4/5

Gangster School by Kate Wiseman (received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

I am all over books about boarding schools, and with a concept as interesting and different as a boarding school for future criminals, I knew I had to read it, and it twisted boarding school tropes fantastically in a way that made it feel different but also maintaining the quite cosy feeling you get reading a boarding school story. The book particularly focuses on Milly and Charlie, who have just begun their time at Blaggard`s and I really liked both of them as they rather stood out by being less ruthless than some of their schoolmates. I especially liked Milly, as she was incredibly quick thinking and clever. The plot of defeating villain Pecunia Badpenny was fast paced and exciting, and I`m looking forward to seeing what Milly and Charlie get up to next as the series continues. 4/5

Across the Divide by Anne Booth (received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

In this timeslip middle grade, we follow Olivia as she is sent to stay with her estranged father on Lindisfarne after her mum gets arrested at a peace rally, and she is attempting to work through her thought on her mum and recent arguments among both her family and friend group focused on her wanting to join the new cadets group at school. I`ve never seen the theme of pacifism explored before that I can remember, and if I have, it certainly wasn`t as fascinating, well balanced and thought provoking as the way in which it is tackled here. I also liked that the timeslip plotline included discussion of conscientious objectors, which is in my opinion a heartbreaking historical event that isn`t remembered anywhere near enough. I liked Olivia lots as a protagonist; she manages to deal with all of the situations she faces in a very mature way, and I also really liked William, who is the boy she meets from the past. Finally, the setting brought me so much joy. Northumberland is pretty much my favourite place in the entire world, and seeing places I know and love referenced was lovely! 4.5/5

I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman (received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

As I read this, my main thought was that Alice Oseman is incredible at writing character driven novels. I Was Born For This is about a fangirl called Angel, and a member of the boyband she loves (the Ark) called Jimmy, as their lives collide over one week and they question whether they actually want to dedicate their lives to the Ark anymore. The dual narration worked perfectly as both Angel and Jimmy`s voices were so clear and distinct, and it allows the positive and negative effects of fandom to be explored from both sides. The book was utterly gripping, and I`m super glad I could read it in one sitting as I was very concerned for each and every character, and needed to know they`d be okay. Finally, I have to talk about the characters, who are diverse and all round phenomenal. Jimmy and Angel are of course amazing, but my personal favourites were Rowan, Jimmy`s bandmate and longstanding best friend, as he was such a grumpy, hilarious delight and Bliss, who I think it`s a spoiler to describe the role of, other than to say she is a complete and utter queen and I love her more than I can express. 5/5

How to Bee by Bren MacDibble (received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

I had heard amazing things about this, but overall it didn`t live up to my expectations. It`s about a dystopic future in which bees no longer exist, and specifically a girl called Peony, who desperately wants to become part of the group of children who now carry out the work of bees but is forced into moving to the City and then has to find her way home. While the idea sounded amazing, I found this hard to get into as it was so slow paced, and the writing style was also a factor in this. I found the slang that Peony uses jarring, and it took me a while to work out what everything meant. Additionally, I liked some of the ending, but found another part very confusing. However, I loved the friendship between Peony and Ez, as they brought out the very best in each other and had such a lovely relationship. 3.5/5


Alex Sparrow and the Furry Fury by Jennifer Killick (received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

After their last mission, all has been quiet for Alex and Jess, but when animals in their local area start behaving in bizarre ways, they start volunteering at their local animal sanctuary to work out what`s going, and who`s behind it, coming up against several foes in the process. Alex is a tremendous character- he`s so cheeky and cocksure, and never far from a smart remark, but he has a heart of pure gold and this is shown so well by his relationship with one of the new animal characters Mr Prickles (who is absolutely adorable, and caused me to be in tears more than once during this book). Jess is also a fantastic character, and I envy her gift of speaking to animals so much. Her bickering, bantering friendship with Alex is just brilliant, and the dialogue in these books is definitely what makes them so hilarious. The animals all add to the humour too, and I was delighted to see the return of Bob the goldfish and to meet new introduction Harry the horse (and, as you already know, I was enchanted by Mr Prickles). Alongside how much the book made me laugh, Alex and Jess`s new mission ensures it`s super-fast paced, packed full of tension and full to the brim with excitement. 5/5

A Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood (received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

In her first novel in the YA age category, Laura Wood tells the story of a girl named Lou, as she becomes embroiled in the lives of the ultra glamorous Cardew siblings when they return to Cornwall for the summer of 1929 and is swept up in their world of lavish parties and societal politics. The beautiful descriptive writing conjured images of the lush setting and stunning outfits in my mind, and it was so immersive. Lou was a wonderful protagonist; headstrong, feisty, determined and funny, and I fell rather in love with her love interest Robert, who was arrogant yet deeply charming at the same time. Their relationship was super slowburn, and I was desperate for them to get together. His sister Caitlin was a total sweetheart and such a good friend to Lou, and Lou`s family were so eccentric and humorous. The company the Cardews keep is as interesting as you`d expect, and it was really fun seeing who showed up to which party and how that effected everyone else there. The secrets of the Cardews are revealed gradually, and the tantalising hints are what I think made the book so exciting. All I can really say about the ending is that it was perfect, and I can`t wait to read more from Laura. 4.5/5

Evie`s Ghost by Helen Peters

I`ve had this book on my TBR for so long, and I`m kicking myself for not reading it sooner; it came highly recommended and sounded like the sort of thing I tend to really enjoy. It tells the story of Evie, as she is sent to stay in the middle of nowhere with a godmother she`s never met, and finds herself transported back to the past, where she assumes the role of a maid in order to save someone in the mansion from a terrible fate so she can return to the present day. As the book is timeslip, Evie knows very little about life as a maid, and this means that the reader is able to learn a lot alongside her. Learning about the lives of servants in the past also allows Evie to really develop as a character to become kinder and more empathetic, and my heart ached for so many of the characters in the past (the servants, and also Sophia, who is the person in desperate need of Evie`s help). I was so glad the ending gave closure to all of their stories as well as Evie`s, along with the way everything tied together and made sense. 4.5/5

The Last Chance Hotel by Nicki Thornton (received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

From the moment I heard this existed, I was 99.9% sure I`d enjoy it; a middle grade mystery/fantasy blend combines several of my favourite things, and the book lived up to my high expectations of it. It`s about the Last Chance Hotel`s much put upon kitchen boy Seth, when a group of mysterious magicians arrive for a secretive dinner party, and he is accused of fatally poisoning the VIP, Dr Thallomius. Each and every other person within the hotel is a viable suspect, and this coupled with the fact we got to get to know each one in quite a lot of detail made it all the more fun to try and be a detective alongside Seth and try and work out whodunit. I`m not entirely sure if I was meant to, but I loved enigmatic Angelique, and I was rooting so much for Seth, who was so loveable I dare anyone to read this and not adore him, to clear his name. His rather critical, gloriously funny cat Nightshade was definitely my favourite though; she was a phenomenal animal companion. The magic system was really unique and clever too, and I hope to learn more about it in a sequel (or possibly several sequels, given the exciting loose ends the ending left). 4.5/5

Kat Wolfe Investigates by Lauren St John and illustrated by Beidi Guo

The Laura Marlin Mysteries are one of my very favourite mystery series, and I have a feeling Kat Wolfe Investigates is going to live up to that. It follows Kat as she and her mum, who is a vet, relocate to idyllic Bluebell Bay, and Kat gets caught up in a missing persons case after starting a pet-sitting service. She soon meets an American girl called Harper, and together they decide to investigate. I thought they made a great detective team as their strengths really complemented each other, and their friendship was fantastic too. I also adored the wide array of animal characters, who you can see beautiful illustrations of on the French flaps at the back of the book (and opening those at the front of the book will give you the treat of seeing the map). Though the mystery plot doesn`t really kick in for a little while, this worked well as we`re given a comprehensive introduction to both the setting and the cast of characters, and once it going I thought the mystery was unique fast paced, with chapters from the point of view of the antagonists adding even more intrigue/tension. 4.5/5


Which books have you particularly enjoyed this month? What are your thoughts on the books I`ve mentioned? Are any of them on your TBR? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx

Advertisements

My Thoughts on Shawn Mendes

Hello everybody!

Today, I’m going to be talking about my thoughts on Shawn Mendes (the album, not the singer himself), and all of the songs on it. Onto the post!

<!–more–>


In My Blood– this song is about being in an incredibly low place, but pushing yourself to overcome it. It’s something almost everyone can relate to in some way, and I was quite emotional when I first listened to it. A powerful first single and opening to the album.

Nervous– while I don’t love the slow verses of this, I still love how Shawn’s voice sounds on it, and the chorus is great. I also think the bridge is fantastic (I am, possibly weirdly, a total sucker for a good bridge. Please reassure me that other people have parts of songs that are typically their favourite!)

Lost in Japan– this is very R and B in sound, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I like it, as I wasn’t sure I would initially! I love the concept of it, and I think it was another excellent choice for a single.

Where Were You in the Morning?- this title is, as Shawn put it in an interview, quite self-explanatory, and I really like it. His falsetto on the chorus is fabulous, and I love the instrumentals too. The cool, confident vibe of the lyrics is fab as well.

Like to be You (feat. Julia Michaels) – this is hands down my favourite of this album. It’s about a couple just after an argument, and them wanting to know what the other is thinking. I think the conversational style and the concept are so unique, and Shawn and Julia’s vocals are strong separately and when they come together. The way their voices blend is beyond stunning.

Fallin’ All in You– while I don’t really love Ed Sheeran as an artist (I don’t hate him, he’s just not someone I personally listen to unless he’s on the radio), I think his songs are generally really well written, and his involvement in this song definetely shines through. It’s a tender love song that tells a story, and it’s a super lovely ballad.

Particular Taste– this is, along with Lost in Japan, the mosy R and B song on the album. I initially thought I’d hate this (and LiJ), but I like it a lot! It’s a total earworm, and it’s just so fun to listen to.

Why– this is a stunning ballad, and it’s about someone wondering why they and the person they love (who loves them back) don’t just get together. It definitely brought a few tears to my eye

Because I Had You– this one is about moving onto a new relationship, and I am obsessed with the melody. OBSESSED. It reminds me a bit of Justin Bieber’s for Love Yourself, but it’s different too, and there’s something about it I just love.

Queen– this is the third in my top 3, and it’s about someone who acts like they’re above everyone else. Like In My Blood, I think that’s something most people will have experienced in one way or another, and I have a feeling it’ll be deeply cathartic to sing this after the next time I come into contact with a person like that. And possibly hum under my breath while I’m near them… The lyrics are suitably scathing for the topic, and I really like this.

Youth (feat. Khalid)- this is such a powerful, timely song; it’s about not letting tragedies in the news affect our view of the world, and it’s beautiful. The message is needed and important. Aside from how much I love it in that sense, I also liked Khalid’s voice, as well as his harmonies with Shawn, even though I’ve never heard of him before.

Mutual– this is about someone wondering whether or not the other person in a relationship feels as strongly about them, and it’s my 2nd favourite of the album. The alt rock/pop mix (which is how I’d describe it, and would love to know if you agree) is amazing, and it’s so catchy and cutting and downright delightful.

Perfectly Wrong– this is another ballad, and it’s even more emotional than Why; it’s about two people who are together, and are bad for each other and yet perfect for each other at the same time. The simple piano backing is absolutely fitting, and it’s so raw and emotional.

When You’re Ready– this is so sweet! I love the lyrics, I adore the melody and I think it’s a gorgeous end to to a fabulous album. It’s super cute and catchy.


What are your thoughts on this album? What are your favourite songs, and do we have in any in common? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx

The Greatest Showman Book Tag

Hello everybody!

Today, despite the fact I am yet to see the Greatest Showman, I’m doing the book tag, which I was tagged for by Kelly. Onto the post!

The Greatest Show – The greatest book you have ever read:

Way too hard. But, in terms of a standalone, probably Boy in the Tower. It’s exceptional; it should be so bleak and hopeless, but it isn’t at all. Recent favourite standalones are Jess Butterworth’s and the Children of Castle Rock.

A Million Dreams – A book that left you dreaming after you finished it

I don’t think I’ve actually ever had a dream based on a book. I’m going to interpret this as a book that really immersed me into its world, and something that definetely fits that description is Sky Song by Abi Elphinstone.

Come Alive – A book where a character finally accept themselves:

I have (at time of writing) agonised over this for over a week, and been unable to schedule this post because of it. So either though I’m using her in another question too, I’m going with Harriet from Geek Girl. Over the course of the series, she learns that she IS a geek, but there is nothing wrong with that, and anyone who can’t appreciate her for her real self doesn’t deserve her.

The Other Side – A character who changes your opinion of them:

I really wasn’t keen on Hermes when I read Who Let the Gods Out, but he absolutely won my heart in Simply the Quest (and I think everyone who’s read that book will be able to guess the scene that caused me to change my mind!)

Never Enough – An author/series you could never get enough of:

The Murder Most Unladylike books. I want there to be like 20 of them, because they really haven’t dwindled in quality at all.

This Is Me – A book you love despite everyone hating it:

I really struggled with this, but one I like that others don’t seem to is Girl Online. I thought it was a really enjoyable book, and I liked the characters.

Rewrite The Stars – A bookish OTP that overcame a lot to finally be together:

Harriet and Nick from the Geek Girl series are my ultimate bookish OTP, and they managed to overcome the long distance aspect and many other misunderstandings to be together.

Tightrope – A book/series that gives you trust issues:

The ending of the Lost and the Found blows my mind to this very day, and I read it YEARS ago now. It was packed full of twists and turns, and I never quite knew which characters to trust.

From Now On – A book you’ve ignored for SO long, you need to read it ASAP:

The Secret of Supernatural Creek. I’m thinking I’ll take it on my holiday in the summer, though I’m not sure anymore whether I’ll reread the first four before it as I love them so much I’m worried it could taint my opinion (I will most definetely reread them again one day though, because I adore them)

Thank you so much for reading! Do you like any of these books? Would you recommend this film? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx

My Five Favourite Cover Songs

Hello everybody! Today, I thought it’d be fun to talk about some of my very favourite covers that artists I like have done. Onto the post!

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (George Ezra)- George has done a variety of amazing covers in the Live Lounge, but I just had to pick this given that I adore it, but detest the original to the point I can’t even listen to it. I love how different this version is, and the fact George often slips the word Ezra into his covers somewhere.

I Don’t Wanna Live Forever (Mayré Martinez and Rafael de la Fuente)- I found this because I love Rafael in Dynasty, and I think this is a fabulous song, even though I didn’t love the original. His voice is wonderful, and at lots of pitches too, and he and Mayré sound beautiful together. I really wish they’d do a few more songs than they already have together.

Psycho (Shawn Mendes) I didn’t expect to enjoy this- I knew it wasn’t the sort of thing I tend to like- but Shawn made it into his style, and I like it a lot. It’s been stuck in my head for days now, as I write this! His cover of Here by Alessia Cara is fab as well!

Riptide (Taylor Swift) this was the first time I’d ever heard this song, and I fell in love with it. I love Taylor Swift during all her eras, and I really love her pop stuff, but if you’re especially into her ballads you should check this out for sure. It’s much slower than Vance Joy’s orginal version, which I also love, which makes it much easier to sing along with!

Somewhere Only We Know (Lily Allen)– I think this song, originally by Keane, is stunning, and this is my favourite version of it. It just sounds utterly beautiful, and the John Lewis Christmas ad it accompanied in 2013 was heartbreaking and heartwarming in equal measures, which is how I think of this song. I don’t feel like Lily Allen was the obvious choice to sing it, but for me, she was the perfect one.

What cover versions do you love? Are you a fan of any I’ve mentioned too, or will you maybe check them out after this post? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx

The I Spy Book Challenge

Hello everybody! Today, I’m going to be doing the I Spy Book Challenge, which I was tagged for by Kelly. Onto the post!

The Rules (which I broke, because you’d need to be a far faster typist than I am to do this in 5 minutes!): Find a book that contains (either on the cover or in the title) an example for each category. You must have a separate book for all 20, get as creative as you want and do it within five minutes!!”

1. Food

Confetti and Cake- this is the second in the Secret Cooking Club series, which I really like. It focuses on Scarlett as she navigates her newfound fame, friendships and complicated family.

2. Transportation

The Secret of the Night Train- while I do not actually own this yet, it sounds right up my alley and I definitely plan to read it at some point.

3. Weapon

First Class Murder- this book is a murder mystery set on the Orient Express (and yes, it’s every but as amazing as it sounds!), and the murder weapon features on it’s cover.

4. Animal

The cover of Alex Sparrow and the Furry Fury has a wide variety of gorgeous animals on it, my favourite of whom is the downright darling Mr Prickles, who is a hedgehog.

5. Number

The Crooked Sixpence- a really great MG fantasy with phenomenal worldbuilding, and I’mso excited for the last in the trilogy it’s part of, which comes out next month.

6. Something You Read

Bookshop Girl- not only does this have book in the title, it is about a love of reading and bookshops and saving them from closure. I can’t wait to read it!

7. Body of Water

Jourmey to the River Sea- I have read shamefully little Eva Ibbotson, but I did love this when I read it (though I can’t really remember it now as it was quite a few years ago)

8. Product of Fire

The Mist in the Flame- which is on my TBR after randomly picking it up one day when it was on Buy One Get One Half Price in Waterstones.

9. Royalty

Casting Queen- I actually read this when it was still under the title of Waiting for Callback , and it’s a funny contemporary YA about a girl trying to navigate the acting industry.

10. Architecture

My favourite standalone M.G- the Boy in the Tower.

11. Clothing

Rose’s Dress of Dreams- I read this lovely young MG last month, and it was lovely. It focuses on Rose, who is desperate to design dresses, as she moves to Paris. She’s based on real historical figure Rose Bertin.

12. Family Member

The Mum Hunt trilogy- this was one of my favourite series when I was young. The books tell the story of Esmie, as she tries to set her dad up on dates in the hope of finding a new mum.

13. Time of Day

Mystic and the Midnight Ride- this is the first of the Pony Club Secrets series, and it introduces them really well.

14. Music

Love Song- this is the story of Nina as she is whisked into the whirlwind lives of the Point, the world’s most famous boyband, and falls in love despite her broken heart.

15. Paranormal Being

I’m pretty sure vampires are paronormal beings, so I’ll go for the My Sister the Vampire series. I loved the worldbuilding and characters in these a lot, and I reread them quite a bit when I was younger.

16. Occupation

Demon Dentist- I struggled greatly with this question, and therefore had to go with something I haven’t read (and it isn’t on my TBR). I enjoyed a few David Walliams books, I will admit, but didn’t get to this one before disliking Ratburger and Awful Auntie, so don’t have any desire to pick it up

17. Season

Winter Magic- a great MG anthology, that I may well reread again this winter to get me in the festive mood, like I did in 2016 and 2017.

18. Colour

Indigo Blue- two colours in one title! This is one of Cathy Cassidy’s earliest books, and it’s about indie as she and her family leave her mum’s abusive partner and attempt to make a new life.

19. Celestial Body

As I write this, I’m currently reading Evie’s Ghost, which has a moon and some stars on it’s very beautiful cover.

20. Something That Grows

In Darkling Wood- there is a tree on the cover of this, and one of the main themes of the book is saving trees from being cut down, so it seems an apt choice. It’s by Emma Carroll, so it’s obviously completely, and it’s about a girl called Alice being sent to stay with her estranged gran whilst her little brother gets a heart transplant, and she meets an unusual girl called Flo who believes in fairies…

I tag Jo and Hannah.

What books can you think of that fit these prompts? Are you a fan of any of those I’ve mentioned? I’d love to hear in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx

Across the Divide Blog Tour: “We Have More in Common than What Divides Us”

Hello everybody!

Today, I’m really excited to be on the blog tour for Anne Booth’s new book Across the Divide, and to share a guest post from Anne, about how we can learn empathy from fiction. Over to Anne!

‘We have more in common’

I love twitter. When I felt lonely and isolated as a carer for elderly parents, twitter was a safe place where I could meet lovely people – writers, illustrators, librarians, teachers, booksellers, publishers, agents – who shared my enthusiasm and passion for children’s books and illustrations. Later, through someone I chatted to about children’s books on twitter, it led to me being published, and getting my wonderful agent. Things I read on twitter every day inspire and inform me and give me ideas for new books. I find it a great ongoing source of support and information and entertainment.

But it has its dark side. When I move away from the world of children’s writing and start reading political tweets, things get much more polarised and divisive and depressing. In the children’s book world, we tend to genuinely behave as if, as Jo Cox said, ‘we have more in common than what divides us’. Because politics is so much more adversarial, nobody seems to feel safe to acknowledge the good in their political opponents, or any badness in their own party. There are so many smears and so much selective reporting, so much finger pointing and generalisations and confusion and unspoken agendas. It is so hard to get to the truth, and yet it is presented as easy to find. If you state a political or religious opinion online you run the risk of being put in a box, and also being seen as someone who puts others in boxes. It doesn’t seem to be acceptable to ask questions about things you don’t understand or change your mind about things, in other words, get educated. There is little forgiveness or giving people the benefit of the doubt or understanding that there is good and bad in everyone. This is not healthy, and against the whole spirit of education and debate, and this approach is also poisoning the world outside twitter in which our children are growing up.

In researching the world of Britain at the time of WW1 I found the same poisonous polarisation. I found, for example, that genuinely brave Emily Pankhurst was, horribly, an enthusiastic giver out of white feathers to men she considered cowards for not going to war, and she and others did not recognise their bravery. I read of families divided, smears and lies and wilfully hateful interpretations of good people’s motives.

Stories can be an antidote to this poison. In the fictional world we have the time and the safe space to explore ambiguities and mixed motives, to let people make mistakes and change opinions. In the fictional world cowards can do brave things, enemies can become friends. We can become educated and learn to empathise – we can be uncertain without being screamed at. We can learn, through fiction, how history informs our present, and I hope that ACROSS THE DIVIDE takes the reader to a beautiful place to explore difficult ideas in safety.

ACROSS THE DIVIDE by Anne Booth is out now in paperback (£6.99, Catnip Publishing). Follow Anne Booth @Bridgeanne and Catnip @catnipbooks for more information

Have you read Across the Divide? Do you plan to add it to your TBR? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx

My Belated Summer TBR

Hello everybody!

Today, I’m going to be talking about a few books I bought last year that I ended up not reading, and I’d really like to read during this summer if I can (though I’m atrocious at sticking to a TBR so who knows if I actually will?!). Onto the post!


Love and Gelato – a book with an Italian setting and ice cream in the title seems like the dream summer book for me. I heard some less positive things about it last year just after it came out and it sort of put me off reading after I bought it, but now I’ve forgotten the criticisms I definetly want to get to it.

Eden Summer– this sounds a little darker than everything else on this list, as it’s about a girl dealing with the disappearance of her best friend, but I enjoy a good thriller from time to time so I think this should be a great, gripping read with some summery vibes.

When Birds Fly Back– this sounds like a lovely book, and I can’t believe I didn’t get to it last year. I was considering reading it after summer, but ended up deciding to leave it till this summer instead. As a sidenote, I am ridiculously excited to read this author’s upcoming MG book I, Cosmo, though I fear it may break me. It’s about a golden retriever who sounds so sweet, and I think we all know I love a golden retriever!

Piglettes– my friend Louise absolutely raves about this book, AND set me the challenge of reading it in the book swap challenge we decided to do together, so I kinda have to read it. It’s set in France and looks to tackle a really interesting topic (of judging others based on beauty), so I’m thrilled about finally getting to it

When We Collided– I read Emery Lord’s other books that are published in UK when I was on holiday last year, and it seemed only fitting to save this one for 2018. I’ve heard mixed things, but I’m hoping I enjoy it. I also found out another of Emery Lord’s backlist (Open Road Summer) is getting published in the UK this year and I’m so excited!


Are there any books you’d really like to get to this summer? What do you think of the books I’ve chosen? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx