Bookish This or That Tag

Hello everybody!

Today, I’m taking part in the ‘Bookish This or That’s tag, for which I was tagged by Ayla!

Lets get started!


1. Audiobook or Text Book?
Considering I’ve only ever listened to one audio book (The Mum Detective by Gwyneth Rees, when my eyesight was still too bad after my surgery I was unable to read myself), I’ll definetely need to go for text books!

2. Paperback or Hardback?

Paperbacks. I don’t hate hardbacks anywhere near as much as I used to (I used to take dust jackets off and leave them bare as I thought they were so annoying 🙈) but there’s something much nicer about a paperback.

3. Fiction or Non Fiction?

As I can’t even think of a non fiction book I’ve read, I’ll need to say fiction!

4. Harry Potter or Twilight?

I’ve never read Twilight (nor do I want to) so it’s Harry Potter all the way for me! (Even though I was INCREDIBLY late to the HP party, I’m so incredibly glad I got there eventually)

5. Bookshop or Online?

I tend to prefer going to a bookshop, as it’s more interactive and fun, and I really REALLY love the feeling of bookshops. I do buy from Amazon etc too though!

6. Standalone or Trilogy?

Of these, I’d go for standalone, but I actually favour longer/open ended series, if I’m honest.

7. Sweet and Short or Heavy and Long?

Sweet and Short I think. My preferred length for books is between 300-400 pages (unless it’s Harry Potter, in which case I think are all almost exactly the perfect length for the plot) and I also definetely favour books which are lighter in tone.

8. Cosy Read/ Reading in the Sun?

Until this summer I’d probably have said reading in the sun, but this year it just didn’t hold the appeal it usually does, so I’ll have to go for a cosy read indoors!

8. Hot chocolate or coffee?

I don’t drink either!

Thank you so much for reading! I’m tagging Kelly and Louise ! Id love to hear in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl about some of your reading habits, both inspired by these questions and in general! 

Amy xxx

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Exploration of Creation: The Books Which Made Me a Reader 

Hi everyone!

Today’s post is by my lovely friend Katie, who blogs over at Exploration of Creation. Over to her fabulous post now! 

Amy xxx


I have loved reading (and writing) books since I was in primary school – reading a good book has always felt like escapism to me, especially in tougher times, and some of the books we read as children really do shape us into the readers, and people, that we become as teens and adults.

 Here are the ones that have made me the bookworm that I am today.

Daisy Meadows’s Rainbow Magic series

This is probably the book series that I remember most clearly from primary school. The first ever book was called “Ruby the Red Fairy” and it followed best friends Rachel and Kirsty who meet on holiday and discover a whole magical world of fairies together. Okay, okay, it sounds a bit silly now, but I can actually remember acting the books out with my best friend in the school playground. They really inspired my imagination – and I still enjoy reading fantasy, especially female-centric, to this day.

Lucy Daniels’s Animal Ark series

My primary school library had about fifty of these books, and I’m pretty sure I read every single one in the seven years I was there. These books gave real voices and responsibility to the children characters (often the adults were far less sensible/kind). It also really taught about animal welfare and being kind to domestic & wild animals. I think this book really engaged me in books about good people, good deeds and on-going series. 

Jacqueline Wilson’s Girls Out Late

This was one of the first books I read as a young teenager (possibly read it slightly too young, which I’ve been doing all my life, and now read technically “too young” as a 20 year old reading YA). There are so many Jacqueline Wilson books I remember and loved – KISS, Candy Floss, Cookie, Lola Rose, The Illustrated Mum, Best Friends, Vicky Angel. Girls Out Late was one of the first times I read a book about teenage girls, in first relationships, struggling with female friendship and body issues and betrayals. I really think Jacqueline Wilson needs commending for writing the books that she does, for young teens, never once insulting them by shying away from tough topics, instead always shining a spotlight on them.

Cathy Hopkins’s Mates, Dates series

These were probably the best books I read as a teenager. I adored them. Again, similarly to Jacqueline Wilson’s books, they tackled really tough, relevant teen topics, like body image, cheating and friendship. My favourite thing about the series was that last one; the female friendship in this series was strong, a constant topic of focus – something great for teenage girls to be reading about. 

John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars

This book was really the book that got me back into reading at around the point I was in sixth form, after quite a dry spell, reading-wise. I read it and it honestly had such an emotional impact on me that it spurred me on to begin exploring YA properly. I think it was perhaps so influential for me because it focuses on cancer, which is hugely significant to me and my family life. It is, to this day, one of my favourite books in the entire world.

J
.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series
Okay, so this has to be, hands down, the books that made me a reader. That’s why I saved it until last. I can’t remember the exact age I was when I read The Philosopher’s Stone for the very first time, but I know I have reread the entire series every single summer for at least the last 4-5 years. Some of Dumbeldore’s quotes are genuinely things I live my life by. Harry Potter is not just about magical witches and wizards and bad guys – Harry Potter teaches us about the fragility of life, the all encompassing nature of death, friendship, sacrifice, bravery and, perhaps most of all, love. 

I
just wanted to say thank you so much to Amy for letting me do this guest post – it’s such a cool idea, and reading hers had me totally inspired! Be sure to leave your own favourites in the comments section!!

I
guess in summing up what reading means to me, and to many of us, I think, I’ll quote the glorious Albus Dumbledore:

“Of course it’s happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?”

August Reviews

Hi everybody!

It`s September! Can you believe it? Today I`m planning to share my reviews of (almost) all of the books I read in August. I enjoyed every single book I read this month enough to review it (yay for fab books!) but I took part in a readathon over the past week and I haven’t quite had to catch up on reviews for the books I read during it yet, thanks to pesky homework . I read some amazing books though, so I`m super excited to include them in my September wrap up next month!

Let`s get started with the reviews!


The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven

I had been excited about this book from the moment it was announced on Twitter, so I couldn`t have been more thrilled when I won a giveaway so I picked up the book almost right after it came through my door. It more than lived up to my expectations! While I hadn`t expected the US setting I still liked it, and the book tackles the timely issues of slut shaming and feminism, and also their link to the Internet/social media. I don`t want to say too much about the plot as I didn`t know exactly what it would be like when I went in and I think it made my reading experience even more enjoyable. Izzy is one of the best narrators I think I have ever read; she manages to be witty, irreverent and relatable and I absolutely loved her as a character.  I also really liked the other main characters such as Izzy`s gran Betty, best friend Ajita and love interest Carson (I`m especially hoping to see more of Carson in the sequel, which I`m already incredibly excited for!). Finally, this book manages to be hilarious and touching in equal measures and also made me fuming with society at some points. I highly recommend this book to everyone, but especially for fans of Moxie and the Spinster Club books. 5/5

Gaslight by Eloise Wiliams (received from Firefly Press in exchange for an honest review)

In her 2nd novel, Eloise Williams tells the story of Nansi, a young girl who works in a sinister, shady theatre/circus and is searching for her mother who she hasn`t seen since she was very young. I initially struggled to get into Gaslight as it`s quite slow paced until just over halfway through, but I did like the immersive descriptive writing as it allowed me to build a picture of the setting in my mind. I liked Nansi a lot as a narrator, mainly because of her unique `style` with the imagery, but I also sympathised with her and her situation hugely. Even though I did have a few issues with the pacing and also the book being very different in both plot and tone to what I`d thought when reading the blurb, I still enjoyed this and I think you would love it if you enjoy gothic books. 3.5/5

Simply the Quest by Maz Evans

Much to my surprise, Simply the Quest not only managed to match Who Let the Gods Out in quality, but was even better. In this book, Maz Evans continues the story of Elliot Hooper, who is having to deal with his mum`s dementia, learning more about his dad and why he hasn`t been part of his life (so far) and also living with several of the Greek Gods and Zodiac sign Virgo. The book manages to have phenomenal humour throughout (it was even funnier than book 1, and I feel like there`s a superb mix of humour for younger and older readers to enjoy). The characters, especially the gods, form a huge part of this as they`re such zany, cool characters and it was brilliant to get to know more about the gods we already know such as Zeus and Hermes, and meeting others like Hades and Persephone for the first time (I wasn`t a big fan of Hermes in book one, but I adore him now!). Maz Evans is also excellent at writing her villains. Even though they make me laugh, I`m still terrified of them (especially Nyx and Patricia Porshley-Plum). However, the book was extremely poignant in places too, and I found myself in tears during some scenes. Elliot`s relationship with his mum Josie is particularly heartbreaking. This is a perfectly plotted and paced mythical adventure which I seriously can`t imagine someone not adoring. 5/5 (and I`d give it even more if I could, trust me)

The Guggenheim Mystery by Robin Stevens

In the long-awaited sequel to the London Eye Mystery (written by Robin Stevens on behalf of Siobhan Dowd and her Trust), protagonist Ted sets off to New York and soon finds himself with a new case to solve when a painting is stolen from the Guggenheim Museum and his Aunt Gloria is accused. Ted is one of my favourite narrators and characters of all time and I was really worried before reading that his voice wouldn`t be the same, but he was in the safest of hands with Robin as if anything, I adored him even more this time around. Robin managed to be both incredibly faithful to London Eye, but I also felt some of her influences throughout the book, which was lovely. The New York setting was so well described that I felt I was there with Ted, his sister Kat and Salim, his cousin. The relationships between these characters also changed, and I enjoyed the subplot about Kat and Salim`s plans for their future careers. I did partially guess the solution to the mystery (which I don’t usually, so I was very pleased with myself!) but I still loved following the plot and I`d recommend this to anyone who wants a fun mystery with a glorious setting and some of the most iconic characters in British children`s books back and better than ever. 5/5

Freshers by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison 

In their 3rd novel, Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison return to upper YA to tell the story of Phoebe and Luke as they begin university. I liked the characters (especially Phoebe`s new friends Frankie and Negin) and the plot, which explored the ups and downs of the first few months of university, but as I haven`t been to university I did find it a little bit harder to relate to as I know next to nothing about it. The book was also more serious in tone than I`d expected (I found the way it tackled `lad` culture excellent), but there were also some real laugh out loud moments. This hasn`t taken Lobsters` place in my heart, but I`m still glad I read it, and I`m looking forward to whatever Tom and Lucy write next. 3.5/5

Songs About Us by Chris Russell

This book is incredibly hard to review without spoiling any of it for you, as these are the most suspenseful YA contemporaries I`ve ever read. I had found a few parts of the 1st book, Songs About a Girl, slightly slow paced, but I was absolutely gripped throughout this book, and the ending has made me desperate to get my hands on Songs About a Boy next year. This continues the story of Charlie, who is given the opportunity to take photos for the world`s biggest boyband Fire and Lights, and is also linked to mysterious frontman Gabriel West in a way we don`t know yet. The characters in these books are phenomenal. They are layered and multi-faceted, and in a lot of ways feel like they could be real celebrities from our world. This book managed to develop every single one further and in really interesting, often unexpected ways. I particularly liked band members Aiden and Yuki`s arcs (although I do wish we`d seen a little more of Aiden`s). I also loved protagonist Charlie even more in this book and still thought she was really easy to sympathise with, as well as her best friend Melissa, who I wasn`t very keen on book 1. Overall, if you loved Songs About a Girl, I think you`ll fall head over heels for the sequel. 4.5/5

Being Miss Nobody by Tamsin Winter

This is one of the best debut novels I`ve read this year, if not ever. I was hooked from page one, as we`re told the story of Rosalind, a girl with selective mutism who is starting high school. The book sensitively tackles selective mutism, bullying and social media (and some parts of Rosalind`s school experience resonated with things I`ve seen in the past, and I feel like a lot of readers will be able to identify with her fears about secondary school). The book also dealt with childhood cancer from a sibling perspective (Rosalind`s younger brother Seb is very ill throughout the novel), and for this and also the writing style and general tone of the book, I was reminded of Sally Nicholls` Ways to Live Forever. This moved me as much as that story did too. I was on an absolute rollercoaster ride of emotions throughout Being Miss Nobody; I laughed at Rosalind and Seb`s adorable sibling relationship, I cried when Rosalind was struggling at school and with life and I was joyous when things went well for her. Each character felt real to me and I loved them all so much (except, of course, the bullies). Finally, the ending was just perfect for the book- it was bittersweet but hopeful, and left me sobbing but wholly satisfied with this story (which I read in a matter of hours. I physically couldn`t stop reading). I can`t tell you how phenomenal this book is. 5/5

The Secrets of Superglue Sisters by Susie Day

This book is exactly what I`ve come to expect from Susie Day- a funny, touching contemporary that tackles things relevant to the people the book is aimed at (in my opinion); periods, blended families, struggling to fit in and make friends. The Secrets of the Superglue Sisters tells the story of Georgie and Jem, two best friends whose parents fall in love and decide to move in together, and explores how that changes their friendship. It also sees them starting a new school and making friends, and there`s also the mystery of who stole their classmate`s secrets for a class project to solve (and I SERIOUSLY didn`t see this twist coming, although I did guess what the smaller subplot of Georgie`s secret would be). The characters were hugely lovable, especially Jem`s little brother and sister, and I also completely adore the cameos from the Pea quartet/the other Secrets books as it makes me feel like I`m part of their community and I know everyone in it as I read. The only thing I had a slight issue with was that I struggled to identify between Georgie and Jem in the dual narrative, but I still recommend this to anyone who loves Susie`s books like I do, and anyone else who enjoys awesome characters, an intriguing and fun plot and contemporary MG in general. 4/5

Fly Me Home by Polly Ho-Yen

Ho-Yen`s debut Boy in the Tower is one of my favourite books of all time, and Fly Me Home came very close to being just as good. Fly Me Home enchanted me from the first page with the tale of Leelu, a girl coming to London from abroad and finds it difficult to settle in, until she finds magical objects and meets some rather special friends. The book is a real mix of the magical realism element and real, contemporary issues, and also touches on immigration and the meaning of home. Every single character in this book, good or bad or in between, is superbly written and I loved Leelu and her brother Tiber, who also faces some issues when arriving in England, especially. The prose, imagery and writing style is completely gorgeous, and the ending was perfect (I was in tears). I have a feeling my copy of Fly Me Home may become just as treasured as Boy in the Tower in years to come. If you haven`t discovered Polly Ho-Yen`s lyrical, magical and utterly unique novels yet I can`t recommend them enough. 5/5

Hope by Rhian Ivory (received from Firefly Press in exchange for an honest review)

In this fantastic contemporary YA novel, Rhian Ivory tells the story of Hope, who is having to reevaluate her future plans after being rejected from every drama school she applied to, and is made to work with a singing team in a hospital by her mum to stop her moping. I thought the hospital setting was fabulous- it`s the closest to ones I`ve been in that I`ve ever read, and I also learnt some new information about hospitals/medicine, which I hadn`t expected going in. Hope was an excellent protagonist as she was really relatable and felt like someone you could actually come across. She also suffers from PMDD, a condition related to periods that I`d never heard of and I`m really glad the book raised awareness of it. I also liked the majority of the supporting characters and I especially liked Hope`s Nonno. The only thing I wasn`t keen on in Hope was her love interest Riley as I just couldn`t take to him as a character, but this is still a fantastic YA contemporary I seriously recommend reading once it comes out as I was so desperate to know how Hope`s story would unfold that I got through this in a single sitting. 4.5/5

Defender of the Realm by Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler

I picked this up after seeing a positive review from a blogger I really trust, and I totally loved it. It`s about Alfie, heir to the throne, as he assumes his new role and discovers he must also become a superhero/vigilante figure known as the Defender, who deals with the mythical creatures that have caused all of the disasters in British history. I thought this was an unusual, cool and intriguing concept and I can`t think of anything especially similar to this. Alfie was a great main character as I really sympathised with him and wanted him to succeed and I also liked the supporting cast (I particularly appreciated LC and Brian, who are helping Alfie prepare for his new roles, and Hayley). I did find the book slightly slow paced in places but for the last 150 pages or so I physically couldn`t put this down as I was so desperate to know what was going to happen. This section was filled with twists and turns I didn`t see coming, and the one on the last page especially left me gasping, to the point where I went and ordered the sequel immediately. I`m so excited to pick up book two now! 4.5/5

Thank you for reading! Have you read any of these books? Do you agree with my thoughts on them? Are any on your TBR? I’d really love to hear in the comments below or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

See you soon with a new post

Amy xxx

The Disney Book Tag

Hello everybody! 

Today I’m combining two of my favourite things in the world; books and Disney.

This tag was created by Kat from katytastic, and I was tagged for this by Meg , and I loved coming up with my answers (although I found a few super tricky!)

Let’s begin! 

1. THE LITTLE MERMAID- A CHARACTER WHO FEELS LIKE A FISH OUT OF WATER

I don’t think it’ll come as a surprise to many of you that I’m choosing Harriet Manners from Geek Girl. Harriet doesn’t feel that she fits in, and I love her journey of realising that she doesn’t need to be super cool, she just needs to be herself, as she’s pretty awesome.

2. CINDERELLA- A CHARACTER WHO GOES THROUGH A MAJOR TRANSFORMATION 

For this I decided to go with Hazel Wong from the Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries. Hazel has developed so much from when we first met her in Murder Most Unladylike, and it’s been a privilege to see her change into someone much more confident and happy with themself.

3. SNOW WHITE- A BOOK WITH AN ECLECTIC CAST

For this, I’ve picked Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren, which has a really awesome cast of characters who are all trying to break out of prison. I loved all of them and I cannot wait for the sequel (I’m also really looking forward to this actually coming out so I can rave properly about in my review on the blog tour and also so you can all read it and rave with me!)

4. SLEEPING BEAUTY- A BOOK WHICH PUT YOU TO SLEEP

For me, I think this has to be Sea by Sarah Driver. This was the Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month back in March and I was super excited when I bought it, but I just couldn’t get into it at all, and it felt like a chore to get through it. I don’t think I’ll be reading the sequel.

5. THE LION KING- A CHARACTER WHO HAD A TRAUMATIC CHILDHOOD 

The only character who immediately comes to mind for this is Suzanne from Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard (which you should definetely read if you haven’t yet, it’s phenomenal). Her childhood was so horrific and it’s watching her recover from it that makes BBT a hard read in places.

6. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST- AN INTIMIDATING READ

I’m unsure whether this means intimidating in length or content, so I’ll answer both. The longest book I’ve read is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but in honesty I was so hooked by this point that I devoured it in a single day. In terms of content, I think a book I found intimidating in content was To  Kill a Mockingbird, which I had to read for English last year.

7. ALADDIN- A CHARACTER WHO GETS THEIR WISH GRANTED 

I really struggled with this question, so I fell back on my trusty old BSC to help me (if you don’t know what the BSC is, it’s the Babysitters Club, which in my opinion are amazing and I will not hear A SINGLE WORD against, unless you want to moan about some characters with me 😊)

Anyhow, my answer to this is Stacey (one of the characters I most like to moan about, but I digress), who gets to move back to Stoneybrook from New York, at the cost of her parents getting a divorce.

8. MULAN- A CHARACTER WHO PRETENDS TO BE SOMEONE THEY’RE NOT

This was another question I found tough, but in the end I chose Scarlett from the Secret Cooking Club series by Laurel Remington. Scarlett really finds herself in these books, and she has to pretend to be very different to herself for a few reasons in the first book, and in the second she juggles with being true to herself online (can you tell I’m trying not to spoil the storylines of these for you? 😂)

9. TOY STORY- CHARACTERS I WANT TO COME TO LIFE

This was hard for the opposite reason to the past two- I have so many characters I’d love to meet! I think my top picks would have to be The Gods from Who Let the Gods Out (especially Hermes, who I hated in book 1 and adore after book 2), the Spinster Club Girls (for obvious reasons; they’re totally awesome and have good snacks) and also the characters from Geek Girl as I’ve read them so many times I feel like they’re my friends already. 

10. DISNEY DESCENDANTS- FAVOURITE VILLAINS

I’m hoping to do a full post about this to tie in with Halloween in October, but a few of my absolute favourite villains are every villain from Who Let the Gods Out, they’re all such incredible villains, Lucretia Cutter from the Beetle Boy books and also Cruella de Vil, from the One Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith.

I’m tagging Charlotte, Rosie and Andrew! If you’d like to do this, please feel free!

See you soon with a new post

Amy xxx

Blog Tour Guest Post- Mark Powers, Author of Spy Toys’s Top 5 Villians

Hello everyone!

Today I’m hugely excited to be hosting a guest post as part of Mark Powers’s blog tour for his 2nd book, Spy Toys: Out of Control. Huge thanks to Faye Rogers for inviting me to be part of this tour and also to Mark for this amazing guest post all about villains, several of whom terrify me too!

Over to Mark!

Top 5 Villains

Why do we love villains so much? Is it because they allow us safely to indulge the nastier impulses in our own nature? – the part of us that enjoys seeing hipster waiters trip and fall beard-first into their plates of pulled pork, or the part that makes our hearts sing at the sight of a small child being drenched in puddle water by a passing van. I had great fun inventing villains for my Spy Toys books – including an evil human/elephant hybrid and a megalomaniacal unicorn – and to celebrate our BFFs (Best Fiends Forever), I now present my top 5 list of fictional villains.

5) Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge from James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

I do like a good double-act of blundering baddies and this duo of despicable damsels is a prime example. Vain, cruel, violent and blustering, they make young James’s life an absolute misery. PG Wodehouse once famously observed that “aunts aren’t gentlemen” and no truer word was spoken of this pair of revolting relatives.

4) The Grinch from How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Seuss

If there’s one thing that villains hate, it’s the sound of good people enjoying themselves and Dr Seuss’s grumpy Grinch (whose heart is “two sizes too small”) is driven potty by the seasonal festivities of his neighbours down in Whoville – so much so that he sets out to ruin Christmas for everyone. We all know a killjoy a bit like the Grinch. If you don’t know who it is in your circle of friends, it’s you.

3) Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

JKR has given us several memorable villains but supply-teacher-from-hell Dolores Umbridge is for me one of the cruellest, slimiest, most vindictive characters ever committed to paper. And that ghastly, little-girly fondness for kittens. Ugh.

2) That Space Bat Angel Dragon thing from The Iron Man by Ted Hughes

I don’t know what this thing is but it scares the heck out of me.

1) The Big Bad Wolf from various fairytales

I’ll come straight out and say I admire this guy. He’s the hardest working baddie in all of literature. And his villainy always proves some instructive point. One minute he’s a brave whistleblower drawing attention to woeful standards in the pig housing construction industry. The next he’s chasing teenage hoodies out of our National Forests. And still he has time to warn snotnose kids about the dangers of prank false alarms. Someone should give this wolf a medal. Seriously.

The second book in Mark Powers’s SPY TOYS series, SPY TOYS: OUT OF CONTROL is out now and available at all good bookshops and online. Find him on Twitter: @mpowerswriter

I hope you all enjoyed reading this as much as I did! I’d love to hear about a few of your favourite villains in the comments 😊

Amy xxx 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Toy Story meets James Bond in the second book of this incredible action-packed series!

Fresh from the success of their first mission, our heroes the Spy Toys – Dan the Snugaliffic Cuddlestar bear, Arabella the Loadsasmiles Sunshine Doll and Flax the custom-made police robot rabbit – are ready for their next task. This time, the secret code that controls every Snaztacular Ultrafun toy has been stolen and all over the world toys are revolting and turning against the children who own them. 

Can Arabella disguise herself as a super-sweet little doll in order to find out more from the daughter of Snaztacular’s top scientist? Can Dan and Flax chase down Jade the Jigsaw, the puzzling prime suspect for the robbery? And can they save the day before the mind-controlled toys forget what it means to play nice?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author Mark Powers has been making up ridiculous stories since primary school and is slightly shocked to find that people now pay him to do it. As a child he always daydreamed that his teddy bear went off on top secret missions when he was at school, so a team of toys recruited as spies seemed a great idea for a story. He grew up in north Wales and now lives in Manchester. His favourite animals are the binturong, the aye-aye and the dodo. http://www.spytoysbooks.com

Guest Post: Quest Reviews

Hello everybody!

Today I’m really excited to have my friend Louise here to write a guest post, reviewing some short stories from the anthology Quest. 

This was set up by the Hay Festival and written by the Aarhus 39- 39 emerging writers under 49 from across Europe, and edited by Daniel Hahn. 

I reviewed  the first half of the collection a few days ago on Louise’s blog , and Louise  also recently reviewed the YA Aarhus 39 anthology Odyssey.

Over to Louise…

Lady Night by Alaine Agirre

This reads like a gentle bedtime story, which is appropriate because it is about three children who are afraid of going to sleep. Wink, Blink and Nod are afraid if they go to sleep, they will never wake up. One night, they follow Sleep’s shadow into a wonderous place. Off all the stories in the Aarhus collections, this stood out as being suitable for the very youngest readers. 

Journey to the Centre of the Dark by David Machando. 

The protagonist wants to always be brave, and protect his little sister. When a monster comes out of her dreams, she says she must take it back to the darkest place inside her mind. The story raises some interesting philosophical questions children start to ask at a certain age – am I here or am I in someone else’s dream? Can I prove this? It was interesting to have this side by side with Lady Night. Machando’s story has a darker tone, but the same reassuring message that fear can be overcome. 

Dagesh And Mappiq Are Friends – Jana Šrámková.

A gentle story about making friends, which was one of my favourite stories. Dagesh is a field mouse with a bad reputation. He wants to turn over a new leaf and make friends, but nobody trusts him. Nobody except Mappiq, who is new to the area.

The pair become friends. When Mappiq hibernates, Dagesh’s new found responsibility is tested to the limits. If he wakes Mappiq early, Mappiq will die. I loved the message of second chances. 

The story is brilliantly illustrated by Axel Scheffler. His illustrations informed how I saw the character, which is always a compliment. I love his animals in Julia Donaldson’s work, and his experience at drawing characterful animals brought this story to life. 

The Day We Left Songstrup by Dy Plambeck

Mikkel is too old to play. He wants to explore beyond the village. Agnes is hesitant, but she goes along with her friends and lets different people in the village equip her for the journey.
This was fun to read, but also worked as a metaphor for the journey into adolescence and beyond. Do you remember being a pre-teen, and feeling wobbly about the idea of leaving childhood? Agnes learns that it won’t all happen at once, and that she’ll have her friends beside her. Songstrup will always be waiting for her when she returns. 

The Travel Agency by Maria Turtschaninoff

I loved Maresi. The community of nuns working to shelter and educate women was a fascinating idea. The Travel Agency is also intriguing. It is set in a travel agency, as you’ve never seen one before. Instead of booking a flight, the customers choose a portal – maybe an object, or a picture if they are feeling wealthy. Turtschaninoff doesn’t tell everything at once. Loads of questions built up in my mind. Why was the girl alone? Did her friend escape?

The Honey-Bee Cemetery by Stefan Bachmann

One of my favourite stories across the two anthologies. I’m a time-slip fan, so Bachmann was already on to a winner, but I love the language, the message and the exploration of historical attitudes. 

Benny moves in with Aunt Lucette, an absent Uncle and two cousins who delight in telling him he’s not a guest, but a burden. Aunt Lucette locks the good rooms a her skeleton key, and puts Benny in the smallest room. Benny can’t imagine anything worse, until he opens the cupboard in his new room. There he finds servant girl Hezra, awaiting execution in a different century. She’s been accused of witchcraft, after she buried some of the Lord’s honey bees. 

The message is lovely – regardless of whether or not they are noticed, the bees continue to buzz. It’s a familiar structure, but it is told beautifully. 

Between the Trees by Katherine Woodfine.

Set in the English Civil War, this is straight out of Du Maurier. A bodice-wearing heroine rides a horse through the forest to escape the Roundheads, and take a message to her uncle. Woodfine is masterful at suspense, and keeps us asking questions. The forest setting was described so well I felt I was experiencing it with all my senses, and I love how the protagonist sees the forest differently now she is no longer treated as a noblewoman. 

The Journey Within – Annelise Heurtier

Aveleen’s father will join the Other Worlds any day. He appears fit, but the tree has spoken, and the tree is at the centre of all things. A new Chosen One must be found, but the tree has rejected every person who has put themselves forward. Aveleen journeys into the centre of the tree to learn who must be the next Chosen One. 

This has a fairytale structure. I loved Aveleen’s development, and how her self-belief grows as a result of her journey. 

Have you read this anthology? What were your favourite stories? If you haven’t read, which stories do you most like the sound of? 

Amy xxx

Author Interview: Robin Stevens

Hello everyone!

Today Im thrilled to welcome Robin Stevens, bestselling author of the Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries, to the blog for an interview. I hope you all enjoy reading it!

Hi Robin! Welcome to Golden Books Girl, it`s so lovely to have you! 

Thank you for having me, Amy!

1. Can you describe the Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries in 5 words for anyone who hasn`t read them yet?

Mysterious, exciting, funny, murderous, friendship.


Continue reading “Author Interview: Robin Stevens”