October Reviews

Hello everybody!

Today, I’m finally sharing my reviews for the month of October, except for the couple of books I didn’t enjoy. Without further ado, onto the books! 

The Curse of the Chocolate Phoenix by Kate Saunders

In this return to the magical world we first visited in the Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop, Kate Saunders sends Oz, Lily and Caydon on a new adventure to protect Britain from magical terrorists. Even though the chocolate shop and magic related to chocolate didn`t feel as prominent in this instalment, I still really enjoyed what we did see of it. In addition, I found the time travel element of the plot really confusing and ended up a bit lost for part of the book. However, I feel that the real strength of these books is the characters as there is a really likeable main trio and I liked all of them individually as well as their dynamic as a team. I also thought new character Silver was an excellent addition and she actually ended up becoming my favourite of the children. I wasn`t just as keen on the villains in this book in comparison to first, but they were still suitably scary, and Alba was especially sinister. My absolute favourite characters had to be Demerara the cat and Spike the rat who were so sweet and funny. 3.5/5

Vlad the World`s Worst Vampire by Anna Wilson, and illustrated by Kathryn Durst

In this utterly lovely younger middle grade book, we follow Vlad, a young vampire who is struggling so much with his vampiric studies that he decides to give human school a go instead, with some interesting results. This was really gentle but also well paced; it was a one sitting read for me mainly due to its length (between 150 and 200 pages), but also because I was so immersed by Vlad`s world I didn`t want to put it down. The book`s humour also appealed to me- I was chuckling constantly. Vlad`s fabulous pet bat Flit was the source of much of this; he was totally hilarious. Finally, Kathryn Durst`s illustrations added so much to my already extremely positive view of this book as they truly brought the story and the characters to life. I couldn`t have been more overjoyed when I discovered a few days later that there`s going to be a sequel in a few months! 4.5/5

Countless by Karen Gregory

In her important and topical debut, Karen Gregory tells the story of Hedda, a teenage girl with anorexia as she falls pregnant and her life changes as she calls a truce with the disorder (which she calls `Nia`) for the duration of her pregnancy. While I can`t speak for the accuracy of the anorexia portrayal myself, it came across as well researched and realistic, and also gave insight into Hedda`s mind and how the disorder can manifest in a sensitive way. It also never felt sensationalised. Hedda was a wonderful, brave character who I definetly sympathised with throughout the novel. I loved how much she developed throughout and became a very different person for her baby. I actually found this true of all the characters, for example Hedda`s family (who I found frustratingly unsupportive at times, and were excellently portrayed as it shows not all people who face challenges like this have a support system). Considering the book takes place over a long period of time, this seemed true to life. Another thing I found interesting in this book was that we actually got to see Hedda have her baby and adjust to life as a mum, which I don`t remember ever seeing before in a book about a teen pregnancy. The only thing I`d have liked slightly more development in was what led Hedda to develop anorexia as it was only briefly touched on but I would have been interested to  Finally, the ending broke my heart in some ways but also put it back together in others, and I liked the hopeful note on which we left Hedda a lot. I`m looking forward to seeing what Karen Gregory writes next. 4/5

The Spellchaser Trilogy by Lari Don

In this middle grade fantasy/magical realism trilogy, Lari Don tells the story of Molly, a girl who has been cursed into shapeshifting into a hare, as she meets other cursed characters and works with them to reverse the curses. First of all, the worldbuilding is phenomenal. It`s well explained and detailed, but never info dumps, and I adore the magic system and idea of curses being so important to so many magical groups. The characters were also well developed and really interesting. My personal favourites were Beth the druid and Atacama the sphinx, but I rooted for all of them (except the horrible baddies!) in lifting their curses and beyond. The plot of the trilogy worked fabulously as well; it was never predictable and I loved all the shocks and surprises that the team faced, and it`s the best constructed trilogy I`ve ever read. There was a standalone plot to each book that kept me interested, and also longer threads interwoven throughout, which weren`t resolved till book three and therefore, made that very satisfying. 5/5

Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell

In her first book after the end of the How to Train Your Dragon series, Cressida Cowell tells the story of Wish and Xar, who are from opposing warring tribes, as they meet and go on an adventure together. I found it incredibly slow paced and considered DNFing more than once, but it did pick up slightly in the second half, and I also enjoyed the construct of the mysterious narrator. I also found the main characters quite difficult to connect to, particularly Xar, although I did love a few secondary characters rather a bit (namely Caliburn and Squeezjoos). Another high point was Cressida Cowell`s stunning illustrations. I especially adored the wolf drawing, which is around page 116 I think. I doubt I`ll be continuing with this series, but I`m thinking about giving How to Train Your Dragon a chance as it sounds fantastic. 3/5

Editing Emma by Chloe Seager

In her laugh out loud hilarious debut, Chloe Seager introduces us to Emma, a 16 year old who has just been `ghosted` by her sort-of-boyfriend Leon, as she dips her toe back into the dating pool in a bid to improve herself, while also tackling friendship drama and family problems. I found this similar to the humour in the Electra Brown series by Helen Bailey (which I adored), and I snorted more than once. I adored the characters in this huge amounts. Emma was such a relatable main character, but I also loved her best friend Steph and madcap mum. The only thing I found slightly difficult was the short chapters as it was slightly jarring as it was hard to tell where I`d left off, but as this was such a fast paced, fun read and I got through it in a few sittings it wasn`t too big a problem! I can`t wait to see what Emma gets up to in book two… . 4.5/5

Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend

In a dazzling debut novel, Jessica Townsend writes the story of cursed child Morrigan Crow, as her predicted date of death arrives and she is saved by enigmatic Jupiter North and taken to the magical land of Nevermoor to compete in trials for a place in the Wundrous Society. I was gripped from the first page and constantly desperate to read on throughout due to the perfect pacing, and I thought the worldbuilding was utterly exceptional. I loved getting to know Nevermoor and its customs, and I especially enjoyed the Christmas scenes. Though I guessed the conclusion to the mystery of the book partially, there were still some shocks and twists I hadn`t anticipated, and it`s left me so excited to see where the story will go in the next book. Finally, the characters were also incredible. I loved Morrigan, who was a heroine I could get behind absolutely, her mentor Jupiter and his many eccentricities and her friends Hawthorne and Jack. My very favourite, however, was undoubtedly Fenestra the Magnificat, who was so feisty and funny and fabulous. I`ve been anticipating this book eagerly for around a year, and it didn`t let me down. A future classic for sure, in my opinion. 5/5

The Witch`s Kiss by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr

From the very first page of this, I was intensely invested in Merry and her story. Merry is a teenage witch who isn`t very interested in powers, as she becomes embroiled in protecting her town from a terrible magical danger and falls in forbidden love while trying to defeat the enemy. The standout thing in this for me was the sibling relationship between Merry and Leo; they felt realistic and never overly mushy, but also have each other’s` backs no matter what. I also loved the blend of contemporary and fantasy, as well as the dual timeline (I was equally interested in both time periods, which I`m not usually), and this doesn`t feel quite like anything I`ve ever read before. I did get slightly muddled during the very fast paced climax, but I liked the resolution and overall, I really enjoyed this. 4.5/5

The Witch`s Tears by Katherine and Elizabeth Corr

In this excellent sequel to the Witch`s Kiss, we see Merry on a new adventure when her gran goes missing and odd, dangerous events begin to take place, and she has to work out what`s going on, while also trying to fit into a coven and deal with other issues. I found it very different in tone to the first book, and if anything I actually preferred it as it read more as a mystery with fantasy/contemporary subplots to me, and I adore mystery books. I also liked how much the characters, especially Merry`s wonderful big brother Leo, changed and developed, and that even though this was mainly a different story we still saw the effects of book one on their lives. I enjoyed getting to see new characters too, and I love Finn in particular. After THAT ending, I`m dying to get my hands on book 3, and if you love any of the genres I`ve mentioned that I think this books fits into, I strongly recommend you pick them up. 4.5/5 

The Eye of the North by Sinead O` Hart (received from publisher in exchange for an honest review)

In this mesmerising, magical adventure, we meet Emmeline and follow her on her journey to the North to rescue her kidnapped parents. The characters in this book are amazing. Emmeline`s sidekick Thing was so sweet and such a good friend, and I adored him, and I thought that the other main secondary character Sasha was wonderful too. Emmeline was one of my favourite heroines in ages, possibly of all time; I saw a lot of similarities between us and I thought she was just an imperfect heroine trying her very best, which I love. I really liked being able to see all the characters when they weren`t together at some points, even though some of the switches were quite sudden. The world was all-enveloping, and I felt like I was journeying alongside the characters. I want my own ice horse immediately, though I wouldn`t like to run into the super sinister villains that O Hart has created. I`m so very hopeful for a sequel someday soon, particularly after an event in the climax that made me cry buckets and the lovely ending. 4.5/5

The Midnight Peacock by Katherine Woodfine

In the fourth and final book of the series, we see Sophie and Lil attend a Winter Ball to solve a mystery there, and finally discover the identity of the notorious Baron. It was fast paced and most intriguing, and it was wonderful to see snippets of Christmas at Sinclair`s Department Store, which made me feel really festive even though I read it in October. It was also fun to see how all of the main quartet have grown and changed since The Clockwork Sparrow, and I loved that many of the minor characters were brought back in this book too. Woodfine`s writing continued to be as elegant as ever and brought her world to life, and made me want to jump into it in many places. Finally, I thought the conclusion of the series`s arc of the Baron was phenomenal, and there were some gasp-worthy moments in the last few sections of the books (which are split into parts, with titles, and each new one has a stunning Karl James Mountford illustration to signify it). 4.5/5

Goodybe Perfect by Sara Barnard  (received from publisher in exchange for an honest review)

In my opinion, Sara Barnard`s third novel is her best to date, which I didn`t think I`d say as a huge fan of both Beautiful Broken Things and A Quiet Kind of Thunder. It`s the story of Eden as her best friend runs away with her boyfriend (her music teacher). I found it interesting to read about a teacher-pupil relationship from the point of view of a friend, as I haven`t seen this before, and I love Barnard`s character focused writing, that keeps me completely hooked even though the plot isn`t full of action. I devoured Goodbye, Perfect in a single afternoon. Eden was a glorious main character. She was so misunderstood in places and I was behind her all through the book. I found living in her head for a few hours amazing; and some scenes (such as those with Bonnie`s mum) really made me laugh. I also adored some of the side characters, in particular Eden`s sister Valerie and her boyfriend Connor (I loved that their relationship was prominent, but didn`t go through any issues. I can`t remember seeing anything like that in another book).  In short, this book was stunning in every way imaginable and made me go through so many emotions in a relatively short amount of pages, and I highly recommend picking up a copy come February. 5/5

The Rise of Wolves by Kerr Thomson (received from publisher in exchange for an honest review)

In a lyrical, exciting middle grade mystery/contemporary, Kerr Thomson tells the story of Innis, a boy who lives on Nin in Scotland as he decides to try and jump the Bonnie Laddie`s Leap in order to become Laird of Nin and not have to move due to his grandfather`s deteriorating health, while also trying to work out why there are wolves on the island and why they`re so interested in him. I thought Innis was a lovely, yet still flawed, main character and I felt really sympathetic towards him when things were tough.  I also enjoyed his friendship with Kat (who was such a fabulous character in her own right; a very strong female), and how his relationship changed throughout with moody, mysterious Lachlan Geddes, who is somehow linked with the wolves. I felt like I learnt some new things from this (namely about the history of Nin and wind turbines) and I`m an absolute sucker for island settings, so I was guaranteed to fall in love with this book). The only thing I`d have liked was for the book to have continued on a little longer after the end, but I suppose it had to end somewhere 😉 . I`ll be seeking out the Sound of Whales soon! 4.5/5

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AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Ruth Lauren 

Hello everyone!

Today, I’m hugely excited to have Ruth Lauren, who wrote one of my favourite reads of this year, here for an interview.

Let’s get started!

Hi Ruth! Thank you so much for agreeing to an interview; welcome to Golden Books Girl

It’s my pleasure, thanks so much for having me!

1. Can you please describe Prisoner of Ice and Snow in 5 words for anyone who hasn`t read it?

Prison Break meets Frozen

2. What inspired you to write the book? Had you always envisaged it as a series, or did you originally plan for just one book?

The idea began when I was watching Prison Break with my son. I wondered what that kind of story would be like if it was about two young sisters instead (and then if it were set in a fantasy land where I could add all sorts of interesting challenges and twists). 

I actually only planned a standalone, but every publishing house interested in the story wanted a sequel, and once I started thinking about what might happen to Valor and Sasha next, I knew they were right. 

3. The world of Demidova is so vivid and layered. How did you go about your worldbuilding? Were there any high points or challenges during this process?
You’re so kind, thank you!

I wanted a very cold, snowy, frozen world where the elements themselves could cause problems for the characters and bleed through into every part of the planning Valor has to do to try to break her sister out of prison. 

Once the setting was fixed in my mind, the details had to reflect the landscape—the animals that inhabit it, the clothes the people need to wear, the food they might be able to access. My editor was brilliant at helping me think about other aspects that add to making the world feel real—like special celebration days in the city, the history of the prison and the geography involved with surrounding lands and how they might impact on the story.  

I drew on elements of the Russian landscape and traditional clothing but I also wanted to create a matriarchal world where only women can rule and where they often have positions of power. I wanted the sisters to inhabit a world where they don’t have to struggle or overcome (at least not in this aspect) and it would never occur to them that those positions weren’t open or available to them. They see women in every role in the book—from ruler to doctor to prison guard to hunter. That was a really important part of the world to me. 

The whole experience was actually one big high point (or at least it feels like it in retrospect). Prisoner is very different from anything I’d written before and it was a lot of fun to write. 

4. Your heroine Valor, is so brave and I really sympathised with her throughout the book, even if I didn`t agree with her decisions. Who would you say your top three heroines are?

Ok, I’m cheating a little bit here. 

TV: Buffy, Jessica Jones, Lisa Simpson

Books: Katsa (Graceling), Feo (The Wolf Wilder) and Katniss Everdeen

5. Alongside Valor is a variety of other prisoners who form a fabulous ensemble cast. Which character of these is your favourite?
I have a soft spot for little Feliks, but Katia is my girl.  

6. What`s your writing process like? Do you have any unusual habits or quirks?
I really don’t! Just outlining, trying to write 1k a day when I’m drafting, and wondering how people who listen to music when they write can possibly concentrate.

7. If you could have written any book by another author, what would it be and why?

I would love to steal The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern for my own. Or anything by Laini Taylor or Kristin Cashore or Katherine Rundell. Their imaginations feel so much bigger than my own and I know I could never write anything on the scale that the first three do or with the inimitable style that Katherine Rundell does.  

8. Finally, before our quickfire round, can you let anything slip about the sequel to Prisoner of Ice and Snow, Seeker to the Crown?

Seeker picks up right where Prisoner left off and with Princess Anastasia now missing, Valor is plunged straight into another exciting mission. More crossbow, more icy danger, and I don’t want to say too much, but a certain monarch may vanish leaving Demidova in chaos . . . 

QUICKFIRE

Hogwarts house- I have no idea!

Favourite flavour of ice cream– Salted Caramel 

Animal you`d most want to turn into?- Cheetah

City/country you most want to go on holiday to that you haven`t yet? Florence, Italy
Favourite season of the year?- Spring
Thank you so much to Ruth for answering my questions, and Emily at Bloomsbury for setting the interview up!

Hope you’ve enjoyed this post everyone! I’d love to hear what you thought if this book if you’ve read it!

 Amy xxx

Blog Tour Review: Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren 

Hello everybody! 

Today, I’m incredibly excited to be part of the blog tour for Ruth Lauren’s Prisoner of Ice and Snow. I read this back in July, and I’ve been super excited for today ever since, as I really couldn’t have loved it very much more! Huge, HUGE thanks to Faye Rogers and Bloomsbury for allowing me to be part of this tour!

Let’s get onto the review!

*I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

In her debut novel, Ruth Lauren transports us to the wintry kingdom of Demidova, where we meet heroine Valor, who has got herself put into prison so she can break her sister out.
Valor is a fantastic character as I really rooted for her, and I also love the supporting cast of the other prisoners who joined the escape attempt as they all felt well rounded and fairly unique, which isn’t always the case with ensemble casts. The book also featured some absolutely chilling villains.

This is super fast paced (and quite a short book), and there was almost constant action that made me want to keep turning the pages. There were some major twists and turns, and they’ll leave you not quite sure of which characters you can trust. 

As well as excellent characters and plotting, the worldbuilding is exceptional. Demidova felt multi faceted and I loved it as a fantasy world.

Finally, I thought the actual writing was brilliant. It struck the perfect balance for me of good prose/exciting imagery and keeping the plot advancing.

I’m unbelievably excited for the sequel to this next year, as it’s by far one of my favourite books this year. 

5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Summary:

Valor is under arrest for the attempted murder of the crown prince. Her parents are outcasts from the royal court, her sister is banished for theft of a national treasure, and now Valor has been sentenced to life imprisonment at Demidova, a prison built from stone and ice.

But that’s exactly where she wants to be. For her sister was sent there too, and Valor embarks on an epic plan to break her out from the inside.
No one has escaped from Demidova in over three hundred years, and if Valor is to succeed she will need all of her strength, courage and love. If the plan fails, she faces a chilling fate worse than any prison …
An unforgettable story of sisterhood, valour and rebellion, Prisoner of Ice and Snow will fire you up and melt your heart all at once. Perfect for fans of Katherine Rundell, Piers Torday and Cathryn Constable
About the author

Ruth Lauren lives in the West Midlands in England with her family and a lot of cats. She likes chocolate, walking in the woods, cheese, orchids, going to the movies, and reading as many books as she can. She’s been a teacher and worked in lots of different offices, but she likes writing best. Prisoner of Ice and Snow is her debut novel.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Are you planning to read it? 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

Author Interview: Jess Butterworth 

Hello everyone!

Today, I’m incredibly excited to welcome another author for a Q&A; the incredible Jess Butterworth, whose stunning debut Running on the Roof of the World I absolutely adored (you can read my review in this post). Onto the questions!

Hi Jess. Welcome to Golden Books Girl, and thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview with me!

My pleasure! I’m delighted to be here.

1. To start off, can you sum up Running on the Roof the World for anyone who hasn`t read it yet in 5 words?

Contemporary Himalayan adventure, featuring yaks!

2. I absolutely loved the setting of Tibet in the book. What inspired you to set the book there? Is anything in the book based on your own experience of living in the Himalayas?

Absolutely. My father was a trek leader and we lived on a remote foothill above Dharamshala, where the Dalai Lama and a Tibetan community in exile is settled. My mother’s family lived in London, where I was born. Growing up, I would always write about the Himalayas when I was in the UK and missing the mountains or my dad and grandparents who still lived there.

I wanted to introduce readers to events I care about deeply, but really it wasn’t as planned out as that. Tash’s voice appeared in my head one day and wouldn’t leave.

The vulture tree is based on a tree I saw about ten years ago, with many vultures perched on its branches. It’s something I’ve never seen again on my visits since, and an image that has stayed with me.

Another real life moment I drew from was when my sister and I once walked down the mountain at dusk and saw a bear up a tree. Needless to say, we backed away slowly and luckily left the bear undisturbed. My sister is a singer and from that moment onwards she would always sing at the top of her lungs as we walked over the foothills. We were taught never to sneak up on the leopards and bears; you’re safer if they can hear you coming and will choose to get out of the way.

The glacier scene came from a time I was trekking with my Dad and we camped by a glacier. Later, we used our sleeping mats to slide down the glacier. It was fun, but bumpy!

During my research trip, when I was close to the India/Tibet border, after acclimatising, I went up to 18380 feet, and very much felt the effects of being at such a high altitude. So that made it into the book too!

3. The difficult political issues in Tibet are very prominent throughout Running on the Roof of the World, as Tash`s parents are arrested by the Chinese soldiers for being rebels. Was it a challenge to explore such a brutal situation and still aim the book at middle grade readers?

I definitely spent time making sure that the book was truthful to its setting whilst still appealing to middle-grade readers. I wanted to write a story that was relevant to today and it was important to me to include those moments as they’re grounded in real events. Writing in first person helped and allowed the reader to see the events through Tash’s eyes, whilst still giving a sense of the bigger political picture. I included moments of lightness and laughter, and an overall theme of hope, and I focused on the universal aspects to make it relatable to younger readers.

4. What was your favourite scene to write in the book?
So many! I loved everything about writing about the mountains! Sliding down glaciers was one of my favourite, hiding with Eve, and the ending.

5. Speaking of writing, do you have any unusual writing habits? What are your writing routines like?

In the past few years, I’ve had many different jobs at the same time as being a writer, from working as a bid-coordinator, assisting in a vintage furniture shop, to nannying. In between them I was often travelling to and from India which means that my writing habits changed regularly. They mainly consisted of writing wherever and whenever I could! I do know that I work best in the mornings, when I can wake up and write straight away. I like to start a new idea in a notebook before transferring it to my computer.

Right now, for the first time ever, I have an office and office assistants, Luna and Bo Bo, the Maine Coon kittens, which is exciting.

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6.  Do you have any tips or advice for writers reading this interview?

Read as much as you can. If you’re stuck for inspiration, think back to the things you loved doing at the age at your protagonist or the things you feel passionately about. So much of writing is re-writing; Running on the Roof of the World ent through at least ten full drafts. Practice patience; everything takes a long time! Most importantly, don’t give up! Everyone has rejections.

7. What other activities do you enjoy apart from writing?

Trekking, dancing, reading, camping and being outside, being with friends, yoga, watching live music, travelling.

8. What has been your  exciting moment of being an author so far?
The book launch for sure! I got to see it in a Waterstones window display and gave my first public reading.

9.  If you could have written any book by another author, what would it be and why?
Matilda by Roald Dahl because it has remained one of my favourite books.

10. Finally, before we go on to the quickfire questions, are you able to say anything about your next book? I can`t wait to read it after your amazing debut!

Aw, thank you! It’s called When the Mountains Roared and is inspired by my Grandma who smuggled a kangaroo joey out of Australia. It’s an adventure set in the mountains of India, about a girl who is determined to protect the wild leopards of the mountain from poachers.

QUICKFIRE

Can you give us three random facts about you?-

In the Australian outback, I got bitten by a brown snake and airlifted to hospital.

I have three younger sisters.

I edited Running on the Roof of the World while I was in India, during monsoon. I was often enclosed in a cloud. If I opened a window, the cloud would drift inside. My pillow went mouldy.

Favourite animal?-

Yaks and leopards (couldn’t choose!)

Favourite chocolate bar?-

Yesterday someone gave me pomegranate dark chocolate and it is my new favourite thing!

What`s your Hogwarts house?-

Gryffindor

Best book you`ve read this year?

The Huntress: Sea by Sarah Driver

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I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this interview as much as I enjoyed writing the questions and organising the post with Jess, who has been an utter delight (and was kind enough to send me the gorgeous photos throughout the post to use)

See you soon with a new post 

Amy xxx

July Reviews

Hello everybody!

Today I`m planning to share my reviews for all of the books I read last month. I was on holiday in Northumberland for most of the month (as you'll probably know if you follow me on Twitter) which meant I got a lot of reading done.

I actually read a bit more than what Im including here, but I sadly didn't really enjoy the others I read enough to recommend them.

Let`s get on with the reviews!

Continue reading “July Reviews”

LGBTQIA Read Wrap-Up

Hello everybody! Its the weekend, yay! Today I'm sharing my reviews for the books I read during the #LGBTQIARead, which was hosted from 24th June-1st July by Faye from A Daydreamer`s Thoughts and George Lester (who is one of my very favourite YouTubers). I read some fabulous books during this ( even though I didn’t read everything from my TBR, which you can read here)

Along with the books I`ll be reviewing below, I also reread Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, which I loved even more this time round.

Let`s get onto the reviews!

Continue reading “LGBTQIA Read Wrap-Up”