March Reviews

Hello everybody!

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


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

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

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

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

Inferno by Catherine Doyle

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Far Away Magic by Amy Wilson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Amy xxx

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Loved But Will Never Reread

Hello everybody!

Today, I’m going to be taking part in Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by Jana of That Artsy Reader Girl, for which the theme today is books I loved but (probably) won’t re-read (leaving that nice and open for myself, because there are a couple I would consider rereading in the future 😉). Like last week, I ound this quite a tricky topic to come up with books for, so I’ve only managed to come up with eight. Onto the post!

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The Reading Habits Book Tag

Hello everybody!

Today, I’m going to be doing the Reading Habits Book Tag, which I found on Writing With Wolves. Onto the questions!

1. Bookmarks or random pieces of paper?

Always bookmarks nowadays. I used to just use another book as bookmark when I was young, hence why lots of my older copies are in a bit of a bad way.

2. Stop reading randomly or after a chapter/certain amount of pages?

I tend to try and stop at the end of a chapter, although that can be tricky if a book is especially gripping and I’m reading on a break at school, and I don’t put it down until I’m forced to by the bell.

3. Do you have a certain place at home for reading?

I read on my sofa a lot, and in bed. I also really like the armchair by the window, but I very rarely sit there as it’s usually claimed either by a dog or another family member.

4. Do you eat or drink whilst reading?

Yes! I love having a snack while reading (usually chocolate).

5. Multitasking: music or TV when reading?

I very occasionally read when other people have those things on, even though I find it quite distracting, but not on purpose.

6. One book at a time or several?

I do occasionally do this, but it’s usually a bit of an accident, such as leaving a book downstairs and being too lazy to go back and get it, so starting another.

7. Reading at home or everywhere?

Not everywhere, e.g. I struggle on trains or buses due to having easily induced nausea and them being too fast and bumpy, but if I’m stationary in a seat then yes, most places.

8. Reading out loud or silently?

Silently.

10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

I don’t break spines on purpose, but as my childhood book collection will tell you, it doesn’t really bother me if the spine is literally peeling off.

11. Do you write in your books?

No. I can’t ever remember writing in one.

12. Who do you tag?

Charlotte, Cora and Kelly.

Thank you so much for reading! I’d love to hear your answers to some of these questions down in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx

Characters I Loved from Books That Weren’t Favourites

Hello everybody!

Today, I’m taking part in Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by Jana of That Artsy Reader Girl, for which the theme today is characters you liked in books that aren’t favourites. For me, I’m choosing to interpret non-favourite as 4 stars and lower, and my list only has 5 on it as I was struggling to think of 10. Onto the post!

Tippytoe from Squirrel Girl– aside from the hearing aid representation, Tippytoe was hands down my favourite part of this book, which didn’t really live up to my high expectations. She was super cool, I loved the way she led the squirrels and the squirrellanguage used is brilliant. I think I’d have liked this book a lot more if Tippytoe narrated the entire thing instead of just a couple of chapters.

Cameron from the Miseducation of Cameron Post– I had a few problems with Cameron Post as a book, but I thought the character was incredibly brave, and all round wonderful in the way she tackles all of the horrible things she needs to deal with.

Sammy from Alice Jones– this series might not be an all time favourite favourite, but it is very underrated! Sammy was a lovely character in book one, and I missed him an awful lot in book two. I’d like a couple more of these books, as I think the mysteries are clever and I’d like to get know the colourful cast of characters better (and see Sammy again ofc!)

Squeezjoos from Wizards of Once– right, don’t anyone do what happened last time and be horrid about me not loving this, please! I found the book very slow paced and difficult to get through, but the character of Squeezjoos was so cute I couldn’t possibly dislike them! They were one of the only reasons I didn’t DNF in fact, as I was deeply concerned over their fate…

The Creakers from the Creakers– I definetly enjoyed this book, but it’s not a favourite (and I didn’t think it was of the rather high standard set by the Christmasaurus, which I REALLY enjoyed). Though I didn’t expect to going in, I thought the Creakers were really sweet in general. I think was mainly due to Shane Devries’s fab illustrations, but I also just liked uncovering their nicer side as I progressed through the book.

A pattern of this seems to be cute sidekick characters save books I’m not so keen on for me… (except Cameron, who was a brilliant protagonist.)

Thank you so much for reading! Do you like any of these characters too? Who would be on your list? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx

The Easter Book Tag

Hello everybody!

Today, since now it’s Easter weekend, I thought it’d be fun to do the Easter Book Tag, despite not being tagged (or celebrating Easter as a religious holiday) . Onto the post!

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Rabbits – A book that you wish would multiply – So a book you want a sequel to (that doesn’t have one)-

This is VERY hard, as my favourite standalone works so perfectly I don’t think it needs one. I think I’ll go for the Eye of the North, as unlike the other book I was considering (Brightstorm) I don’t believe one is in the works. I’d love to see Emmeline and Thing on another adventure!

Egg – A book that surprised you

At time of writing, I’m halfway through the Buried Crown by Ally Sherrick, which I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it, so this was a very pleasant surprise. I was absolutely blown away by Under Rose Tainted Skies a few months ago too, as I had no expectations going in and it was incredible.

Hunt – A book that was hard for you to get your hands on

This one’s a bit harder, so I’ll go for the Disappearances, which I was sent last summer. The reason it was hard to get my hands on was that it went missing in the post, and Pushkin very kindly sent me another!

Lambs – A children’s book that you still enjoy-

I still enjoy LOADS of children’s books, as you’ll can tell by other answers/my other posts!

Spring – A book with a cover that makes you think of spring

The two colours I most associate with spring are yellow and light green, so I’ll go for Battle of the Beetles, which fits the latter. It’s an absolutely brilliant ending to a phenomenal trilogy, which I highly recommend to fellow fans of MG.

Rising from the dead – A book from a deceased author

One of my favourite authors who is no longer with us is Enid Blyton, as I adored her school stories (especially Malory Towers) and the Five Find-Outers are brilliant.

Baskets – A book that is in your amazon cart or wish list right now

Ooh. There are many, many things on my bookish wishlist, both upcoming and backlist! I’m more likely to buy backlist from Amazon (so I’ll go for Boys Don’t Knit, which I’ve meant to pick up for years and have just never got to.

Thank you so much for reading! What are your favourite types of Easter eggs? Are you a fan of the books I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl, and have a lovely Easter!

Amy xxx

Children’s Book Award Blog Tour- The Island at the End of Everything

Hello everybody!

Today, I’m taking part in the Children’s Book Awards blog tour, and I’ll be giving some information about the Island at the End of Everything and sharing a quote from the author about what it means to her to be on the shortlist. Onto the post!


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YA Shot Blog Tour: Travel and Writing

Hello everybody!

Today, I’m really excited to welcome the absolutely lovely Jess Butterworth to the blog for a guest post, as part of the YA Shot Blog Tour. Onto the post!


As a child I often imagined I was on adventures in the wilderness without my parents in tow. My grandparents were avid David Attenborough fans and I used to watch wildlife documentaries with them before acting the scenes out: pretending I was climbing to the top of a rainforest; rescuing a pelican from a cliff or swimming with pink dolphins in an alpine lake. I wanted to inhabit an outside world: interacting with nature and experiencing my environment.
The literature I surrounded myself with reflected this desire and books such as Michael Morpurgo’s Kensuke’s Kingdom; The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and Jamila Gavin’s Wheel of Surya trilogy, swept me away to faraway lands or on adventures in new settings. My other favourites included Louis Sachar’s Holes and The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford. As I got older I turned to narrative nonfiction and travel writing. All of these stories allowed me to experience being in the wilderness from the safety of my home. These are also the things I consider in my own stories: what are the places I want to spend time in when I write and the type of landscapes I want to create for my characters to interact with? I also soon realised that the stories I loved writing were ones that were fictional but grounded in real places and events.
My reading journey planted the seeds for a desire to go on my own adventures and as soon as I was old enough, I worked as much as I could and saved up for train, bus or plane tickets before setting off, armed with a notebook and a pen. And as I travelled, I noticed that my strongest story ideas developed when I was on buses or trains. There’s nothing better than being tucked into a corner of a train, knees up or legs crossed, with nothing to do but think, people watch and ponder for hours as the scenery whizzes past. In my head I’d ask questions about characters’ motivations: why are they doing this and what will they do next? Sometimes, the passing view outside or the events around me were enough to spark whole book ideas.
I’ve wondered if I find writing on public transport inspiring because in a world where we’re surrounded by the buzz of social media distractions, epic to-do lists, and long working days, it offers the freedom to think and be present without the pressure of sitting at a desk and having to come up with an idea; your only goal is to reach the destination.
But there’s also something magical in writing about a setting as you’re in it. I’ve learnt the hard way that it’s all too easy to forget the little details, the tastes, sounds and smells of a place, when you’re far away from it. Now each idea gets its own notebook filled with photos, notes, maps and clippings from its setting that almost acts as a portal back to the place, when I flick through it. This also gives me something tangible to show students during school visits.


About Jess- Having spent her childhood between the UK and India, Jess’ debut novel ‘Running On The Roof Of The World’ was inspired by the stories she heard about the Himalayas from her grandmother. She begun writing it in 2013 when she was living in the Indian Himalayas and trekked into the mountains as part of her research. You can follow her on Twitter @J_T_Butterworth.


What settings do you enjoy creating/reading about? Are you a fan of Jess’s books? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx