November Reviews 2018

Hello everybody! Today, I`m going to be sharing my thoughts on all of the books I read in November (excluding a couple for school!), which were all pretty great- it`s definitely been amongst my best months for quality if not quantity! Onto the post!


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The Mid Year Book Freakout Tag 2018

Hello everybody! Today, I’m going to be doing the Mid Year Book Freakout Tag, which I was tagged for by Cora. Onto the post!


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1. The best book you’ve read this year?

My joint favourites of the year so far are When the Mountains Roared and the Children of Castle Rock, which I adored. The former cemented Jess as one of my favourite writers at the moment as it was even better than her stunning debut and the latter was such a perfect Blyton-esque read that made me laugh so, so much.

2. The best sequel you’ve read this year?

I’ve read lots of excellent new additons to series this year, but the best sequel to a first book by far for me has been Alex Sparrow and the Furry Fury, which I thought was hilarious and exciting and immensely enjoyable, AND it had the added bonus of loads of brilliant animals.

3. New releases you haven’t read yet but want to.

So, so many. I’m very excited to finish off the Uncommoners trilogy, and I think the Storm Keeper’s Island and the Wild Folk look particularly amazing too.

4. Most anticipated releases for the second half of the year.

Emma Carroll’s Secrets of a Sun King, Robin Stevens’s Death in the Spotlight and Anna James’s Pages and Co are probably my top three. There are so many things coming out that I want to read that I’d take forever to list them all though!

5. Biggest disappointment.

I think it has to be the List of Real Things. I absolutely loved the two books I’d read from Sarah Moore Fitzgerald previously (Back to Blackbrick and the Apple Tart of Hope, which were stunningly written and so unique), but I found this one really hard to get into and not what I’d expected from the blurb.

6. Biggest surprise.

I thought I’d enjoy the Children of Castle Rock, but I had no idea I’d love it as much as I do. It feels like a book I’ve been waiting on forever without knowing it, as it combines so many of my favourite ingredients in a book; boarding school, adventure, friendship, beautiful writing and brilliant humour.

7. Favourite new to you, or debut, author.

I don’t feel like I’ve read as many debuts this year (though that could be my imagination!), but I’d say my favourite would be the House with Chicken Legs, which was a retelling of the Baba Yaga folk tale with lovely characters, some brilliant twists I did not see coming at all and a phenomenal setting/character in the house itself.

8. Newest fictional crush.

1000% Matt Finch from Open Road Summer. I love him. Unlike Reagan (the main character, who he is the love interest for), I am exactly the sort of person who’d love to have a song written for them.

9. Newest favourite character.

I’ve loved SO many new characters, but I think my absolute favourite is Finch, the narrator of Flying Tips for Flightless Birds. He took a little while to get to know, but he was such a joy to read despite being simeltaneously frustrating some of the time.

10. Book that made you cry?

When the Mountains Roared made weep at multiple points. Most books ehuch heavily feature animals do, to be honest.

11. Book that made you happy?

ALL OF THEM. But one in particular would be A Sky Painted Gold, which I read on the couch one day when I felt really unwell. It was so romantic, funny and well written that it made for perfect escapism.

12. Favourite book to film adaption?

I think I’ve only seen Love, Simon, but it’d still be Love, Simon if I’d seen fifty. I loved that film so much, and I didn’t really expect to since the book is one of my favourites and they changed quite a few things.

13. Favourite post you have done this year?

I think it would have to be this one because writing an entire post about why I love Geek Girl was such a joy.

14. Most beautiful book you have bought this year?

Easily Open Road Summer- I think all of the UK covers for Emery Lord are ridiculously pretty.

15. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

I want to get to so many things by the end of the year, but the main one I’ll mention is the Secret of Supernatural Creek because I bought it the day it came out, and have put off reading it for almost an entire year in case it doesn’t live up to the original Laura Marlin Mysteries quartet (which hold a very special place in my heart). There are lots of others I hope I can get to too.

If you’d like to read my 2017 version of this tag, you can do that here.


I tag Christina and Laura.


Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy x

Top Ten Tuesday- Bookish Worlds I Never Want to Live In

Hello everybody! Today, I’m taking part in Top Ten Tuesday, for which the theme today is bookish worlds I don’t want to live in. I’ve come up with 5, so onto the post!


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Why I Love Geek Girl

Hello everybody!

Today’s post is a tiny bit different to usual (more in format than anything else), so onto the post! I hope you enjoy it 💜

Of all the books that I count as favourites, the Geek Girl series is one of the very closest to my heart. There are so, so many reasons why I love this series and I decided, since it’s now almost a year since the final book came out that I wanted to write about it.
It fits my taste perfectly.

Harriet’s voice is incredibly unique, and her dry sense of humour throughout never, ever fails to make me laugh at least once a chapter. We’re very different in a lot of ways, though I see similarities too. I don’t rattle off facts or love maths and Science, but I adore history, and books, and I’m the first to admit I’m not all that into fashion. There is a passage in the first book about that very topic that speaks hugely to me, and I’m often heard saying ‘they’re just clothes!’

That’s something Geek Girl has given me. There are whole sections of this book I can rhyme off by heart; Harriet’s vocabulary has seeped into mine. Ostensibly, which features in one of the most uncomfortable bullying scenes throughout all 6 books is one of my go to phrases in an essay, and it’s one of my favourite words ever. I also try and learn some of the glorious facts sprinkled throughout that always fit just right with the narrative, which never feel jarring as they could be in other hands.

The rest of the cast are just as special. Eccentric agent Wilbur; so bizarre I can’t help but giggle when he’s on the page. Her parents; clever and caring, and undoubtedly my favourite book parents of all time. Toby; initially an irritation, but someone I came to care about by the end of Forever Geek. Best friend Nat; ferociously protective of Harriet, hilarious, a true ‘girl bomb’. Scary fashion designer Yuka Ito, whose terrifying manner provokes Harriet into some of the best moments of the series for me. And Nick. Lion Boy. A character I’m unashamedly in love with. He’s funny, charming, gorgeous and I can picture him so vividly throughout. He’s perfect for Harriet, to me, and she’s perfect for him.

Watching them grow over the course of the series is a pleasure, and letting them go in Forever Geek was difficult (I spent the entire sitting in which I read it in tears, even as I inevitably laughed). I don’t think I’ll ever stop rereading them though. At the end of any especially tough week, or in preparation for something I’m dreading, I go to the drawer in which I keep these (the most easily accessible I have), pull them out and start reading. And it feels like going home.

Why do you love Geek Girl? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl

Amy xxx

Guest Post: Christmas With Year 3 by Christina of Chrikaru

Hello everybody! 

Today, I have a lovely guest post from my fabulous friend Christina, who blogs about books and modern languages (aka two of my favourite things in the world) all about books she reads with her class at Christmas. 

Over to Christina and her lovely post now!

Amy xxx 


In my classroom we read everyday, several times day. Any time we have a spare minute we read. Read a story, poem or article together as a class, with a friend or alone, we’re always reading. I like to share my favourite stories with the children in my class and consider one of the most important parts of my job is that children leave my class having identified books as sources of joy, inspiration, comfort and information. Books as ‘ uniquely portable magic’ in the words of Stephen King.

I like to match books with what we’re learning about or link them to things that are happening in the real world. Books have started so many valuable, deep conversations with my class and I have seen the impact with children queuing to borrow their own copy, reading more on that subject or in the reports I hear from parents about their once reluctant reader who is now lost inside a book at every opportunity.

The lead-up to Christmas in school is exciting, yet tiring with lots of things going on. To give you an example, in the month leading up to Christmas we have parent-teacher conferences, Arts Week (where each class spends a whole week creating art, culminating in an installation in and around school), Open House  (where children perform, then show their parents around school), flu sprays, Christmas pudding cooking, etc etc. I could keep going!

In amongst all these activities and excitement, it is important to have the sanctuary of reading as that quiet, calm place we all enjoy spending time in, even when the sculpture we’ve spent two hours building has collapsed in a crumpled mess.

So, what do we read?

Here are a few suggestions for any KS1 or KS2 class (ages 4 – 11).

Little Robin Red Vest by Jan Fearnle -Little Robin has given all his nice warm vests to seven chilly friends in need. On Christmas Eve, with no vest left for himself, he huddles on an icy roof… until someone very special comes to the rescue.

I first came across this when teaching Year 1 and it has been a firm favourite with every class I have shared it with. A really cute story about the importance of kindness and sharing!

The Jolly Christmas Postman by Allan and Janet Albert- The Jolly Postman brings a batch of wonderful letters for Christmas, including notes from the Big Bad Wolf and all the King’s men.

If you loved the original Jolly Postman book, you will also enjoy this holiday edition where the postman delivers letters to various fairytale characters.

The Polar Express by Chris van Allsburg- A young boy is awakened from his Christmas Eve rest by a train that magically appears just outside his home. 

And so, a magical adventure begins! Truly a classic for Christmas!

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs- Wordless picture book with beautiful soft illustrations – lovely to share with children as you can discuss what is happening on each page.

Yet another classic, The Snowman had charmed and enthralled every child to whom I have introduced him to!

The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child and Stick Man by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffer

Not traditionally Christmas stories, but the storytelling at home fits well with cuddling up with your family during colder weather and The Gruffalo’s Child is set in winter. Stick Man is also a fun read at this time of year, especially as Santa Claus makes an appearance!

Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs

A cute look at what Santa does before and after Christmas – quirky humour and graphic-novel style illustrations make this a winner!

The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore

This needs no introduction – remember reading this on Christmas Eve with my parents when I was younger and I’m sure that many other families also have this tradition.

Norman, the slug who saved Christmas by Sue Hendra

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27686688-norman-the-slug-who-saved-christmas

This was recommended to me by a friend who is also a primary teacher – I was a bit sceptical at first but the kids loved it! When a big sack of presents lands by Norman the slug, at first he thinks he must have been a very good slug that year. Then he spots the name labels and realises that the presents must have fallen off Santa’s sleigh…

How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers

Not strictly a Christmas book, but a beautiful story to share with children at any time of the year!

The Stolen Sun by Amanda Hall

A Native Alaskan story about the changing of the seasons – lovely to share with children who may not be familiar with the original folklore.

The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson– This is a classic for a reason and one of my childhood favourites – like most popular fairy tales there have been several different re-imaginings of it, but I always enjoyed Gerda striking of into the snow to save her friend

The Twelve Days of Christmas- A fun way to count down the days with your children – it is just an illustration of the song, but it is fun to read as you sing and talk about what each gift might represent or what they might orefer instead!

The Nutcracker- Another Christmas classic, my family watches the ballet together every year. Did anyone else ever imagine themselves as Clara, dancing with the Sugar Plum fairy?

Walk with a wolf, The Emperor’s Egg and Ice Bear- Brilliant faction (fact but illustrated like fiction) books which have fascinated every class I have ever read them to!

How the Grinch stole Christmas by Dr Seuss- This one probably needs no introduction – the inimitable Dr Seuss takes on Christmas through the eyes of the Grinch who hates everything about it!

Okay, am going to stop here although the more I think about it, the more wonderful books I come up with!

Have you read any of the books above? 

Will you add some to your seasonal reading list?

Let me know!

Christina


Guest Post: Louise of Book Murmuration’s Favourite Winter Fairytales

Hello everybody!

Welcome to day 9 of blogmas! Today, I have my friend Louise here to talk about her favourite winter fairytales!

Enjoy! 


Peter Pan- Peter Pan has been associated with Christmas since it hit the stage in the Christmas season of 1904. Otherwise it has nothing to do with winter, or Christmas. I think this shows how any story can become a favourite Christmas tale. Lots of us feel like big children at Christmas, and Christmas is never so magical as in those early childhood years, so I think the theme of the boy who doesn’t want to grow up resonates with children and adults at this time of year.

The Match Girl- Why does a story that ends with the death of a child have associations with Christmas? Seasonal reading doesn’t have to be light and fluffy. Dickens was master of that, but The Match Girl predates even A Christmas Carol. These days we’re as likely to be obsessed with presents and wrapping paper, and driving each other up the wall over television watching rights. The Match Girl goes back to a time when a warm fire and the love of a family was a gift, not a … gift in disguise. I think it has the power to get under the frustration caused by modern life, and modern Christmas, and remind us how lucky we are. Everybody begs that final match to provide the miracle. Every. Single. Time. 

The Snow Queen- Modern adaptations focus on the queen in her palace. To me, the beauty of Hans Anderson’s story is how Gerda travels through the seasons, and those seasons are personified by the people she meets. My favourite part is the Autumn bandit camp.

The King Of The Swans- Delphine travels into a summery land to find the strawberries which will save her friend Hilda. Delphine is unable to get home, until she gifts some strawberries to the King of Swans. Hilda is cured, and years later the swan king gifts Delphine a crown. Ever after, children go in search of the same strawberries, but none find them. Delphine’s selflessness is rewarded, while the other children go in search of riches and come back empty-handed. This story stays in my memory because of the contrast – the summery land found in the middle of a snowy forest.

The Snow Maiden – An elderly couple believe they have been blessed with the child of their wishes when a girl made of snow comes to life. She grows within days into a beautiful young woman, but evaporates over a fire when she is invited to run through the springtime wood. 

The child made of snow is the image which stays with me. We all know what will happen when the girl is invited out into the spring. This is a lovely story to tell aloud, as the twists and turns invite questions.  ‘What do you think they found?’ ‘Do you think she’ll return home?’ 

Don’t these all sound brilliant?! I think my favourite winter fairytale is the Snow Queen for sure. What’s yours? 

Amy xxx





5 Books with Great Food in Them

Hello everybody, and welcome to day 8 of blogmas!

Today, as food is quite a big part of Christmas for lots of people, I thought it would be fun to talk about books which feature lots of it.

Onto the post! 

Love, Lies and Lemon Pies by Katy Cannon– this is one of my favourite YA books of all time. It’s about Lottie, still struggling to cope with the loss of her dad, and Mac, who feels trpped by his nightmare home life, and them finding each through the new school Bake Club. The recipes (which the characters cook, and we are given!) are varied and so much fun to read about (even though I probably wouldn’t eat any of them 🙈)


The Secret Cooking Club/Confetti and Cake by Laurel Remington
– these are lovely middle grade stories about Scarlett, who has abandoned all her hobnies due to her oversharing mum blogger mum, finding an escape in cooking. This leads to new friendships, a whole lot of fun and her life taking a turn for the better. And it features lots of yummy sweet treats, hence why it’s on this list!


Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries by Robin Stevens
– this  book (and all it’s equally excellent sequels) introduced readers to the concept of bunbreak, and rarely a day or two goes by where I do not see that word in my social media circle somewhere. I also indulge in one myself from time to time… . I absolutely love all delicious ones we see superstar sleuths Daisy and Hazel indulging in throughout.


Boy in the Tower by Polly Ho-Yen
– this is an admittedly weird addition to this list given the main food choice (which I shall not tell you) but the scenes where all the characters come together to eat are probably my favourites as they really drive home the message of a struggling community leaning on each other.


Harry Potter by J.K Rowling
– the Hogwarts feasts are quite literally magical, and I would seriousky love to attend one if I could (*sobs loudly*). Also, the company would be amazing. I’d get to laugh with the Weasley twins, eavesdrop on the Golden Trio’s crazy plans for whatever they’re doing next and comfort lovely Neville in his lower moments. 
Thank you for reading! What books with great food can you think of? Do we share any answers? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx