October Reviews 2018

Hello everybody! Today, I’m sharing my thoughts on all the books I’ve read in October. Onto the post!

Continue reading “October Reviews 2018”

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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!


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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

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

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

Review: The Soterion Mission Trilogy by Stewart Ross

Hi everybody!

Hope your week is off to a great start. Today, I’m reviewing The Soterion Mission Trilogy. I’d love to know what you think of these books in the comments or on Twitter if you’ve read them. 

Amy x

Continue reading “Review: The Soterion Mission Trilogy by Stewart Ross”