Reviews: Magical Places and Mythical Creatures

Hello everybody! This post has been slightly delayed because I’ve not been reading as quickly over the past few weeks, but it’s finally here, and I’m so excited to share my thoughts on all these books with you! Onto the post!

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Pick ‘n’ Mix Reviews #1 : Best Friends, Boyfriends, Bollywood and Body Swaps

Hello everybody! Today, I’m trialling a new style of review post that I’d really like to make a more regular thing, so I’d love any feedback you have in the comments. Onto the post!

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Reviews: This is the Reading of the Night

Hello everybody! Today, I have another review post to share with you, themed around night time and some things I associate with it, and I’m particularly proud of my song lyric pun for this one. Onto the post!

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Reviews: Sea, Sky, Sand and a Book in My Hands

Hello everybody! Today, I’m going to be sharing my latest batch of reviews, which are themed around the sea, the sky and the sand this time, in honour of summer. Onto the post!

Skyborn by Sinéad O’ Hart (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

I can’t believe it’s been almost 4 years since the Eye of the North was released, but I was a huge fan of that when I read it in 2017, so I was very excited indeed when it was announced that Sinéad’s new release was a prequel, focusing on Thing back when he was known as Bastjan, and lived in a travelling circus that has fallen on hard times financially. A mysterious man named Dr Bauer offers to be their benefactor in exchange for a mysterious box that belonged to Bastjan’s mum, it’s up to Bastjan, his circus family, runaway Alice and her plucky dog Wares to keep it safe and work out what is really is and how to make things right. Thing was probably my favourite in the Eye of the North (although I really loved Emmeline too!!), so it was lovely to learn more about him and his background even though so much of it was heartbreaking. The father-son relationship he has with the circus’s strongman Crake is just gorgeous and perfect, and I also loved the way his friendship with Alice developed. The adventure is so exciting and fast paced, with interesting magical elements and amazing, cinematic descriptions of everything. Finally, there a few little Easter eggs about the Eye of the North in here that made me smile so much, which is lucky really as the ending made me shed quite a few tears, even though I know how Thing’s story really ends.

When the Sky Falls by Phil Earle

I’ve only read a couple of Phil Earle’s previous titles, but after this was recommended to me by a friend with excellent taste and it was announced as Waterstones’ CBOTM for June, I absolutely had to add it to my basket. This is the story of Joseph, who is sent to London during world war 2 to stay with the initially rather standoffish Mrs F, who is in charge of a rundown zoo, and shooting its prize gorilla Adonis should he escape during an air attack. Joseph is really struggling when we meet him, and for quite a bit of the book, between his family troubles and his undiagnosed dyslexia that has made teachers and pupils alike label him stupid, even though he’s amazing at maths. I was so angry during some of this because of the extremely unfair way Joseph was treated at school, but loved that he had Syd and Mrs F looking out for him, even though he wasn’t always sure they were. I also loved the bond that developed between him and Adonis, which shows how huge an impact an animal can have on your life, even though most people don’t befriend a silverback gorilla. It was also interesting, although also heartbreaking, to learn how tough life would have been for animals during the war, as it’s something I’ve only seen explored in one book before. The ending absolutely broke my heart, so maybe buy some tissues with your copy of this, but it’s a very moving, powerful read for upper middle grade audiences.

Wave Riders by Lauren St John

A new Lauren St John book is always a highlight of my bookish calendar, so I needed to pick Wave Riders up pretty quickly after I got my hands on it. It’s the story of twins Jess and Jude, whose lives are turned upside down after their guardian Gabe mysteriously vanishes and their yacht is wrecked, meaning they and their dog Sam (who is a darling, just FYI!), have to go to England and live in the stately home of the strange couple who are very keen to take them in. First of all, I think I have to mention how much I loved the twins. They’re very different in terms of hobbies and interests, but their bond us so lovely and I just wanted the best for both of them all the way through. The supporting cast are hard to talk about without spoilers I guess, but a special mention definitely goes to Jude’s school librarian, and the less kind characters made this such an engrossing read. The mystery took so many fascinating twists and turns and I definitely didn’t predict anything, andi just had such a brilliant time reading Wave Riders. In fact, it reminded me so much of being 10 years old and falling in love with Kidnap in the Caribbean for the first time, so I can’t recommend it enough whether you’re a longtime fan of Lauren’s like I am or you’re completely new to her work and looking for a good place to start.

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I’ve become a huge Taylor Jenkins Reid fan over the past year, so I’ve basically been counting down to the release of this, and it didn’t let me down. It focuses on the Riva family in two different timelines; the present takes place on the day of the annual family party which we are told in the prologue will end in flames, and the past is about the rather complicated love story between Mick and June Riva. The Riva children (who are adults when we meet them) are: Nina, a surfing supermodel, Jay, a competitive surfer, his almost twin Hudson, a photographer, and Kit, the baby of the family who is just working out who she wants to be. I loved both timelines and watching the story unravel was so fun, especially as things get more and more dramatic and intriguing as the book progresses. I also loved the characters; all four siblings won my heart, I felt so so sorry for June and I loved to hate Mick, although to be honest I kind of pitied him as well for being so self absorbed and unwilling to care for his family when they needed him, but being there when he needed them. Reading about the party was SO much fun, and given the 80s is like my favourite decade I absolutely adored all the references, especially the Brat Pack ones!! A book about a party and the lives of a family has no right to be this gripping, but it’s absolutely bloody unputdownable!

Between Sea and Sky by Nicola Penfold (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

I really enjoyed Nicola Penfold’s debut Where the World Turns Wild, and after reading her second, she’s going to be an auto-read author for me from now on, I reckon. This one is a dual narrative story about a world changed forever by severe natural disasters, focusing on Pearl, who lives on a sea farm and will do anything to protect her illegal sister, and Nat, who comes to stay at the farm for the summer with his researcher mum. He brings with him a secret could change their whole world, and Pearl and Clover agree to help him even though they’re risking everything, including their relative safety from government control. All three of the main characters are so interesting and well fleshed out that they felt real to me, even though their world is very different to ours right now, although of course that could change if steps aren’t taken to remedy the climate crisis. The secondary characters are also fantastic, I especially liked Tally and Nat’s mum Sora. The way Nicola combines very realistic dystopian futures with hope and nature and light is the best I’ve ever seen it done, and Pearl’s religion/faith is another thing I loved about this. The worldbuilding is just amazing, and I can’t wait to read Nicola’s next book, which I believe is set in the Artic. There are some twists and reveals towards the end that had me absolutely hooked, and I think the ending was a perfect balance between not being neatly tied up in a bow and hopeful for the future.

The Secret Detectives by Ella Risbridger

This was originally on my TBR for a different post I’m planning, but a few trusted friends told me I’d love it, and they couldn’t have been more correct. I’ve been a huge fan of Ella’s for years; I loved her various columns for the Pool, her story in the Make More Noise anthology was incredible and I admire her so much as a person generally, so I was thrilled the Secret Detectives was basically my ideal book. It’s kind of loosely inspired by the Secret Garden, specifically the journey to England, but rather than Mary we have Isobel Petty, who is one of my new favourite characters ever. I found myself relating to her hugely at so many points (especially in her dislike of most people), and I also loved Sam and Lettie, who form the rest of their detective agency. What are they investigating, you ask? Isobel and Sam witness someone being pushed overboard, and although they have no idea who it was, they immediately start detecting. That was something else I loved about this; not only do they have to work out whodunit, but also who was murdered in the first place. The reveal and conclusion were fantastic, I adored the mail ship setting, and I was just in love with this by the time I was 3 chapters in. If you’re a fan of Robin Stevens or Katherine Woodfine, this is an absolute must read, and although I don’t think it’s very likely, I’d absolutely love about 10 books with these characters.

Children of the Quicksands by Efua Traore (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

I’ve been intrigued about this since it won the Chicken House prize last year (or possibly the year before? COVID has really messed with my memory), so I was very excited to finally pick it up! It’s the story of a girl named Simi who is sent to stay with her estranged grandmother in a remote Nigerian village named Ajao for the summer while her mum goes on a work trip to London. Soon after she arrives, strange things start to happen that seem connected to a local legend regarding the goddess Oshun, and Simi is caught up in trying to help fix things. I absolutely loved learning more about Nigerian culture and the way of life there, and of course expanding my knowledge about the orishas, especially Oshun, and I loved the story about Layo and Adunni. Simi is a great character and I loved her determination to help the lost children, no matter the personal cost, and her friendships with Bubu and Jay were lovely. My favourite relationship in the book, though, was that which she shared with her grandmother Iyanla. There’s a kind of mystery about why Simi’s mum left Ajao and never returned or talked to Iyanla again, and I loved seeing that unravel while Simi and Iyanla bonded. If you want to feel completely immersed in a country that isn’t written about nearly enough, given how amazing a setting it was for this, I’d highly recommend picking this up soon.

Shipped by Angie Hockman

This has been on TBR since before it even came out (I’m actually pretty sure I preordered it?), and it was such a fun romcom read. It’s about coworkers Henley and Graeme, who are up for the same promotion at the travel company they work for, as they’re sent on a company cruise together to get ideas for their presentations which will determine who gets the digital marketing manager position. The chemistry between Henley and Graeme is fantastic, and the enemies to lovers trope isn’t one of my favourites if I’m honest, but the way it’s executed in this is amazing. There are so many cute moments, but some special favourites were the snorkel scene, and the section where they have returned from the cruise and Graeme is supportive and lovely. I also loved that it discussed more serious topics like ecotourism and domestic violence, while being incredibly uplifting as a whole. Basically, this gave me all the fuzzy feels and the way basically every plot thread was wrapped up was just perfect. Very excited to see what Angie Hockman writes next, and if you’re a fan of the Hating Game, this absolutely needs to be on your TBR!

Shipwreck Island by Struan Murray

I read the first book in this series a couple of months ago and thought it was brilliant, so I’ve been desperate to get to the sequel ever since. It follows Ellie and Seth as they travel away from the Enemy’s City to a seemingly idyllic island, but when they’re caught up in a power struggle and their past starts catching up to them , they realise they may not really be in paradise. As with the first book, it’s basically impossible to describe the things I loved about this without spoilers, but I’ll try. The worldbuilding is absolutely incredible, and I loved how much more we learnt in this book, some of which was very shocking. The characters are all so amazing, but Ellie is undoubtedly my favourite. She is so clever and compassionate, and something that meant a lot to me while reading this is that she now uses a walking stick. I don’t want to get on my soapbox, but I firmly believe we need more disabled rep in middle grade, and as a walking stick user who has never seen a character with one who wasn’t either a villain or elderly, it was one of my favourite parts of the book. Seth goes through some really interesting things in this and it was great to learn more about his past lives, and there are some stellar supporting characters as well. Molworth and Viola were great fun, Loren was a brilliant antagonist, the Enemy is possibly even more terrifying than it was in book one, and Kate is such a complex, masterfully written character. This is an unputdownable fantasy/dystopia, and if you love classic middle grade fantasy, you need it in your life. After THAT ending, I need the next book like right now, so its release really can’t come soon enough.

The Edge of the Ocean by L.D Lapinski

I read and enjoyed the first book in this series last year, but this one is definitely my favourite so far. It follows Flick, Jonathan and new addition Avery to the world of the Break, which is slowly dying, after thy receive a summons from the pirate queen Nyfe Shaban. Flick and Jonathan have always had brilliant banter as duo, but Avery just took my enjoyment of this to a whole new level. I loved what she brought to the table and her relationships with Flick and Jonathan, and I’m shipping her and Flick so, so much. The side characters in this one are fantastcialy memorable too, Nyfe is such a brilliant pirate queen, I loved Burnish and the mer queen was so regal and captivating. I loved the worldbuilding of the new world, and learning more details about the Strangeworlds Travel Agency and its history. The hints at an overall series arc have me so intrigued, but the plot of this also works really well as a standalone even if you haven’t read book one, in my opinion. The epilogue was absolutely edge of your seat stuff with all its twisty reveals, and that last line has ensured I’ll be picking up book three as soon as I can.

Beach Read by Emily Henry

I saw so many people raving about this last year so I’ve no clue why I’ve taken an age to read it, but let me just start this review by saying it deserves every bit of praise it’s been lavished with. It’s about a writer named January, whose father has just died, moving to his hometown in a bid to come to terms with the revelation that he was unfaithful to her mum, and get over her writer’s block in time to deliver a new manuscript. But then she meets her neighbour, her old college rival Gus Everett who is also a writer, albeit a literary fiction one, and they make a bet: whoever writes a novel in the other’s genre sooner, wins, and soon a really special relationship develops between them. The chemistry between January and Gus is just off the scale from the very start. This is quite a slow burn romance and I was desperate for them to get together all the way through. I loved their research trips, their You Belong With Me style of note writing, and their bickering. I loved the small town vibes and the subplots about January and Gus’s lives before meeting each other, and the side characters were basically all absolutely delightful. The discussion of the importance of women’s fiction (which I, like January, think is a ridiculous term), also made my heart sing. I absolutely can’t wait to pick up You and Me on Vacation now!!

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia

This is part of the Rick Riordan Presents imprint, and I don’t think a single book from it has let me down so far. Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky is about a boy named Tristan, who is struggling with the grief of his best friend dying and is sent to his grandparents’ home in Alabama, when he ends up punching a hole in the MidPass and becomes embroiled in trying to get the trickster god Anansi to fix the hole he’s made. I loved learning so much more about African American legends and the famous figures within it (I’d only heard of Brer Rabbit before), and I loved the way Kwame Mbalia depicted them. Gum Baby talking about herself in the 3rd person really made me laugh a lot, and I loved John Henry and Brer Rabbit’s roles in the story as well. More than this, though, I loved the contemporary element of this as well. I wanted to just give Tristan a hug so many times throughout this because he’s just so lovely. The way this book tackles toxic masculinity and sends the message that mental illness isn’t a sign of weakness, and asking for help is brave, is incredibly important and will help a lot of people, I think. I can’t wait to continue with the series!

Thank you so much for reading! Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Are you planning to add any to your TBR after reading this post? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Amy x

Reviews: Birds Flying High

Hello everybody! Today, I have a new review post to share with you, this time themed around birds, whether they feature prominently in the books or are just mentioned in the title. Anyway, onto the post!

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Reviews: Wonderful YA

Hello everybody! Today, I’m very excited to be sharing my latest review pos, which is themed around some of the wonderful YA books I’ve been reading these past few weeks. Onto the post!

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Reviews: Somebody Told Me… to Read All These Books

Hello everybody! Today, I have a review post I’ve loved reading for, which is made up of books that my friends keep telling me to read, and in a lot of cases the same books have been recommended by a few different people. Onto the post!

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Reviews: Meteorological Marvels

Hello everybody! Today, I’m so so excited to finally be publishing a post that I’ve been doing to get to for AGES, which is a group of books all somehow linked to meteorology, that I’ve spent the past couple of weeks reading in preparation for reviewing them. On top of loving the idea, I’m also pretty sure this is the most 5 star reviews I’ve ever had in one post, which is pretty cool! Onto the post!

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Reviews: Travelling Back in Time

Hello everybody! Today, I’m going to be reviewing some books that take place in the past, and they’re a pretty broad spectrum of historical periods and perspectives seeing as some are as recent as the 90s while others date back to the time of the Romans. Onto the post!

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Reviews: Back to Nature

Hello everybody! Today, I’m going to be reviewing some of the books I’ve read in the last couple of months, all themed around nature (whether that’s because of their themes, settings or even just a word in the title!). Onto the books!

Otters’ Moon by Susanna Bailey

I thoroughly enjoyed Susanna’s debut Snow Foal at the end of last year, so Otters’ Moon was a definite priority on my 2021 TBR, and I’m so glad I’ve read it because, like Snow Foal, it’s a beautiful story about family, friendship and how much of an impact the love of an animal can have on us. This focuses on Jake, who is being forced to spend his summer with his mum on a tiny island he thinks is deadly dull, until he meets Megan and gets caught up in her plan to save an otter pup whose mother has died. The friendship Jake and Meg share is very special, even though it takes a while to develop, and I loved how much they both adored Willow and wanted the best for her. The relationships they have with their respective families is also really interesting. Jake’s mum is suffering from depression and it’s heartbreaking to see him grapple with that and try his best to help her, and I felt equally synonymous towards Meg, whose grandfather is losing his memory and seems to be stuck in past traumatic memories, such as the death of her parents. Seeing the effect they have on each other and how much caring for Willow gives them a purpose and a bit of hope is so moving, and I loved the way the Otters’ Moon of the title was utilised in the plot. I obviously don’t want to give any spoilers, but the things that happen at the end of this made me cry (mostly for good reasons because I was happy, I hasten to add!) and Susanna Bailey is quickly becoming an auto buy author for me, after only two books.

Kat Wolfe on Thin Ice by Lauren St John

This is the long-awaited third book in the Wolfe and Lambe mystery series, which follows animal-loving detectives Kat and Harper as they travel to the Adirindacks and become involved in a mystery regarding the disappearance of the star witness in the trial of the alleged ringleader of the notorious Wish List Gang. The setting is the first thing that deserves a shoutout because the natural beauty of the Adirondacks is conveyed so wonderfully that I really felt like I was there experiencing all the action myself, but I also loved the sense of danger and tense atmosphere that both the setting and the difficult weather conditions contribute to. The mystery itself is also fantastic, I really didn’t manage to guess all the twists, but I loved the way things unfolded and Kat and Haroer’s relationship with Riley was something else I really enjoyed in here. Overall, I think this might be my favourite in the series so far and I’m very much hoping this won’t be the last I see of Wolfe and Lambe’s adventures, because they’re always such interesting mysteries, with a fantastic friendship and love of nature at their hearts.

The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange

My friend Louise has been nagging me to read this for the longest time, particularly since I’m such a fan of Lucy Strange’s other books, and I can’t tell you how glad I was that I adored her debut every bit as much, if not more. It’s the story of a girl named Hen, who moves to a new house with her family, and her having to cope with her mum’s mysterious illness while her dad is away on business and no one will tell her what’s going on. She’s also just lost her brother, and the entire country is rather in turmoil seeing as it takes place in 1919, just after the end of the Great War, which of course gravely affected thousands and thousands of people. Hen is, I think, one of the most endearing heroines I’ve ever read. My heart absolutely ached for her throughout and I loved the way she approaches life and tries to help her mother any way she can because she knows, instinctively, that the way she’s being treated isn’t right or just. I also loved her love of literature and ingenious planning towards the end of the book, as well her as her beautiful friendship with Moth, an ethereal woman she meets in the woods and initially believes to be a witch. Also, I don’t want to go off on too much of a tangent, but I think this book’s exploration of mental health and how women who suffered from what we in the modern day recognise as mental health conditions were treated at this point in history is brutal, but also very truthful and important, because it’s a stark reminder of just how far we’ve come in the past 100 years, but also how far we still need to go as some people’s attitudes are decidedly still stuck in this era. Overall, this book is stunning and crucial and I wish I’d read it years ago like I was told I should.

The Boy Who Met a Whale by Nizrana Farook

In Nizrana Farook’s second book, which is also set in Serendib (the setting of the Girl Who Stole an Elephant, which is a fictionalised version of Sri Lanka), we meet Razi, as he helps a boy named Zheng evade capture from pirates who are after not only him, but treasure they’re willing to kill for. The two, along with Razi’s sister Shifa, set out to find the treasure for themselves, and an amazing adventure ensues. Razi is such a lovely character, and his kindness and bravery are both incredibly admirable. I have to admit I wasn’t sure of Zheng at first (much like Razi and Shifa!) but I was very fond of him by the end, particularly as the people who want him dead are very scary indeed. Shifa was most definitely my favourite though, as I loved how clever she was, as well as how protective she was over Razi. I think Serendib is a beautiful, intricately described setting (to the point where I almost felt like I was there) and I’m really hoping Nizrana will set her future books here too, as I think there’s still a lot of it left to explore with different different characters with their own stories.

Bloom by Nicola Skinner

I loved this book so much that I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do it even remote justice in this review, but I’m going to try my very best because I honestly want everyone to pick it up. It’s the story of Sorrel Fallowfield, who finds a packet of “surprising seeds” in her garden and ends up planting them on her head (and her best friend Neena does the same), and the very unexpected consequences of that decision. I feel like it’s pretty hard to describe this book and why it’s so special without spoiling it completely as part of the fun for me was all the twists and turns it took every time I thought things just couldn’t possibly get any worse for poor Sorrel, so if I’m a bit vague please forgive me. Sorrel is a great character, I loved how imperfect she was even though she starts the book believing she basically is perfect because she’s so well behaved and clever, and I thought Neena was a really good friend to her, as well as a brilliant character in her own right, and her passion for science was so amazing. But if I loved Sorrel as a character, then I don’t even know what word to use about how obsessed I was with her narration (she’s telling the story in past tense, from the future), with all its dark warnings and wry comments. I can’t tell you how much I laughed at this book, not just because of Sorrel but also the world she lives in, which is very like our own but in a slightly exaggerated, almost satirical form, which provides so much scope for humour as well as commentary on how absurd some parts of modern life are! The themes it tackles to do with nature and the effect removing green spaces to build urban environments has are vitally important, and I absolutely loved the way the book ended as it was just so beautiful and I wish it were a real place so I could go and visit.

The Wild Folk Rising by Sylvia V Linsteadt

The length of time it’s taken me to pick this up is absolutely criminal given how much I enjoyed the first in the series in 2018, but I’m so glad I know now how Comfrey and Tin’s story ends, because it’s a wonderful duology and definitely a must read if you’re looking for books connected to nature. This picks up not too far from where the Wild Folk ends, and continues the story of Comfrey and Tin (and their friends/family who work alongside them) trying to defeat the Brothers, who want to extract precious stargold from the magical Wild Folk, for their own gain, led by the despicable Father Ralstein. I absolutely adore both Comfrey and Tin, who are both so gifted and special in their own ways that they form the perfect team by combining these talents and abilities, and even though things were incredibly bleak throughout this book, there’s still hope to be found because people are working so hard to try and prevent the Brothers from destroying the world of Farallone completely. My particular favourites in the ensemble are definitely still Myrtle and Mallow, but I very much enjoyed some of the new characters in this book too, such as Mary. Farallone is described so beautifully, even in the dark time it faces throughout the duology, and the worldbuilding is beyond exquisite; I love the mythology of its creation story and how it’s evolved into this incredible, magical celebration of nature, when it’s not being tainted by greed and hatred of anything that is in any way different. I have to admit I was hoping for a different ending, but after reflecting on what did happen in the weeks since I read this, I think it ended in a way that was very true to the series- it’s bittersweet and beautiful and a reminder that nature has so much power, but that it must never be used for evil.

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

I’ve been meaning to read this since I saw Justine recommend it ages ago, and while holding a 450 page hardcover for a few days was a slight challenge, this book was definitely worth it. It’s about Elisabeth, who has been raised in one of the Great Libraries of the magical world she lives in, where grimoires are kept. After a dangerous grimoire escapes and causes chaos, she is blamed and taken away by sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn to face trial. I loved the worldbuilding and magic system in here a lot, particularly the way in which books are so vitally important, and I found learning about how sorcerers and their demons operate fascinating. I also enjoyed getting to know the characters, as Elisabeth is a strong, clever heroine and I fell utterly in love with Nathaniel, who’s just wonderful and witty, with a heartbreaking backstory that troubles him often in the present day. The villains are truly terrible people, and I was pretty much on the edge of my seat as things unfolded and more details of their plans unfolded. The star of the show, however, was undoubtedly Nathaniel’s demon Silas, who is so complex and layered, and therefore utterly fascinating to read about. The ending fitted the story so well, and while I’m usually not the biggest fan of open endings, I really liked the way this one was done as it lets me imagine a certain future for these characters.

Swan Song by Gill Lewis (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

I’ve really enjoyed a lot of Gill Lewis’s work in the past, but I feel like this might be my new favourite (it’s very close between this, Sky Hawk and Scarlet Ibis, if you’re wondering). It’s about a boy named Dylan, who is really struggling at school due to depression. and him being forced to move in with his grandfather after he is expelled from school. Although Dylan is reluctant to say the least, he ends up trying to save an area swans fly back to every year from being built upon, amidst serious family illness and healing himself. As someone who didn’t have the best experience at school myself, albeit for different reasons perhaps, I really felt like I was able to understand Dylan’s situation and it was very powerful seeing his journey back to wanting to live, and I I absolutely loved that one thing that helps do this is reading, because I can definitely relate to that too. The conservation part of the storyline was also wonderful and I found it fascinating to learn more about swans and their habits, and I was so worried about Dylan’s grandfather after he got ill. I felt like everything came together so perfectly at the end, and I look forward to reading more Gill Lewis in the future.

The Gift of Dark Hollow by Kieran Larwood and illustrated by David Wyatt

I am thoroughly ashamed of myself for taking so long to get to this series after adoring the first one towards the end of 2020, so naturally I’ve made it my mission to catch up in 2021. The series follows the story of a legendary rabbit warrior named Podkin One-Ear (and his siblings Pook and Paz), who have to face off against the evil Gorm, as told by a bard, who is travelling to a festival with a young rabbit in this book. The way these books are structured is so clever, as the narrator is a character in their own right, and I love the interludes where we get to see what’s going on, which only got more exciting in this book as we learn much more about the bard and how personal Podkin’s story is to him (plus Rue is precious and I love him and his inquisitive nature so much!). Podkin’s story only got more interesting as well, as this book sees him take on a new mission in his quest to defeat the Gorm, who are suitably terrifying villains and are enslaving and murdering rabbits at a horrifying pace, and I loved his development as a character that came about as a result. My favourite character is definitely still Paz because she’s just such a queen, but I really liked some of the new characters in this installment too, and I’m also very fond of Crom, Bridgid and who could resist baby Pook? The worldbuilding is another huge highlight, it really reminds of the Warrior books by Erin Hunter as I’m so invested in the characters and story arc, and loved learning about the structure of the rabbits’ lives in terms of them all having different warrens and each Warren having a special Gift, bestowed by their goddess. I’m so sad I only have one book left in the trilogy now, but I’m dying to see what happens next and equally can’t wait to meet Uki in the sequel series.

Which nature themed books would you recommend? What are your thoughts on the ones I’ve picked? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Amy x
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