Pick a Word and Pass it On Tag

Hello everybody!

Today, I’m doing the Pick a Word and Pass it On Tag, which was created by Life Has A Funny Way of Sneaking Up on You and I was tagged for by the absolutely lovely Faye.

The idea of the tag is to list all of the books you’ve read with a certain word in the title. I’ve decided to continue on with the word Faye chose, which is home.

Let’s get onto the books!

I can only remember 4 books which I’ve read with home in the title, so insead of just listing them, I’m going to tell you a little bit about them too! 😊

A Home for Shimmer- This book tells the story of Amy as her family move to the countryside and open up a vet practise, and what happends when a golden retirever puppy is dropped off and Amy falls in love with her.  As you may know if you follow me on Twitter, my dog is also called Shimmer, and as I’ve mentioned before the book Shimmer is based on mine. There are lots of little nods to my real girl in the book and it was such a special reading experience. It’s also a fab animal story in general, and I’d recommend it to anyone who loves those sorts of books.

Back Home by Michelle Magorian- It’s been several years now since I read this book, and I’m struggling to remember the finer points, but I can recall being captivated and enthralled by Rusty’s story of returning from her evacuation to America and attending boarding school in England. I also remember how tinged with sadness it was. I’ve since went on to read the also incredible Goodnight Mr Tom by this author, and I found it heartwrenching also. Michelle Magorian is one of the most emotive authors I’ve ever read.

I‘ll Be Home for Christmas by various authors (Stripes anthology in aid of Shelter)- While this does, like every anthology, have some stories I’m not so keen on, it also contains some total gems. My personal favourite from what I remember was Cat Clarke’s, but I’m planning to reread/review this anthology on here in the next few months (possibly as part of blogmas, which I am SUPER excited for already!). I’m also looking forward to finally getting round to Stripes’ new A Change is Gonna Come anthology, which I think is such a positive movement and is getting incredible reviews!

Fly Me Home by Polly Ho-Yen- Polly Ho-Yen is one of the most talented writers out there at the moment. You may be bored of me saying it by now, but I don’t care 😎😛. It’s true, though, and Fly Me Home confirmed it for me. After being INCREDIBLY disappointed in her 2nd novel, which just didn’t match the quality of her debut at all, I was so thrilled when her 3rd novel Fly Me Home blew me away with it’s brilliance. I think with a few rereads this could mean very nearly as much to me as Boy in the Tower does (although it’s my favourite standalone MG ever, so maybe not exactly as much 😉)

Thank you so much for reading! I’m tagging Bex and Sarah, and you, if you’d like to do this! Can you think of any other books with home in the title? Let me know in the comments!

See you soon with a new post,

Amy xxx

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TWO WAY AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Sita Brahmachari Interview 

​Hi everyone!

Today, I’m very pleased to welcome Sita Brahmachari for a two-way interview themed around her latest release Worry Angels , where we ask each other some questions. To try and make things as clear and non-comfusing as possible, I’ve put my questions in bold, Sita’s in italics, and both of our answers in plain text. Huge thanks to Kirstin at Barrington Stoke for asking me to host this 😊😊

Hi Sita. Welcome to Golden Books Girl!

1. What were the inspirations behind Worry Angels? Have you wanted to write something like this for a while, or is it a newer idea?

In the dedication I write that ‘Worry Angels’ is inspired by three wonderful people. One of them was a teacher at my children’s school. Her name was Margaret and she used to make papier Mache angels for the children. She is a truly creative and kind teacher who has touched the lives of generations of people and I wanted to write a story in homage to her. 

The second person who inspired me was a Sand Play Therapist called Maggie. Playing in the sand isn’t only good for children and young people. I experience Sand Play Therapy while doing some research on a play, and I found it to be the most wonderful way to free up the stories, worries and anxieties that all people, young and old must learn to cope with as part of life. That’s why I set the story at ‘ The Sandcastle Support Centre.’

The third inspiration is actually called Grace, like my character. She is a young artist who I met a few years ago when I worked on my novel ‘Kite Spirit,’ which also focuses on the pressures that young people face in our society. Real life Grace has made the beautiful animation for ‘ Worry Angels’ and although she is just setting out on her career I imagine her to be much like my character Grace might have been when she was young.

Two of these inspirations I met over sixteen years ago and Grace I met five years ago. Stories very often have long fuses, they can burn for a long time in the imagination of the author. ‘Worry Angels’ has always been alight in me, waiting for its moment to be told as there is a growing awareness of anxiety in younger children.  

1B – Have you had inspirational ‘ Angels’ in your life that you think will sustain you in the future? Can you see any qualities in my characters that your Angels share with mine!

I would have to say my mum, who’s got me through so many dark days, especially with my illness. I think our angels share the quality of kindness.

2. This book is for Barrington Stoke, who specialise in novels for reluctant readers and making reading easier. Did your writing process change at all as you were writing a novella, instead of a novel? What sort of things did you have to adapt?

Writing a novella is what I focus on when I set out to write a Barrington Stoke Book.  Obviously you are aware from the start that the story is shorter and therefore that you have less space and time to create your character’s world. This means that every brush stroke must count and that when a character is introduced you must ensure that they live in full 3D technicolour in the reader’s imagination without burdening them with lengthy description. It’s an excellent skill for a writer to hone. It makes you really dig deep and explore what is vital and what can be stripped away. So much of writing is about giving just enough to create the imaginative space for readers to inhabit. This is the challenge I love in writing Barrington Stoke Stories and short stories in general.   

I write these stories just as I would write any shorter stories. There is no difference in my approach.

2b) I believe that Barrington Stoke stories can be read by readers of all abilities. They’re just great stories.  Recently I met a young student who said ‘ I’m a really good reader so my parents say I should only read classics, and even though I would like to read those books my parents would think that they are too easy for me’ . What would you say to persuade her that reading a BS book would be a good idea?

First of all, I absolutely agree with your sentiments. A book is a book is a book, if you ask me, and what age range/reading ability it’s intended for has no bearing whatsoever on it’s quality, and I like to think I’ll be reading MG and YA till I’m old and grey. If you aren’t reading Barrington Stoke books, you’re missing out on some absolutely incredible characters and stories.

3. Are the characters based on you/people you know? How did you come up with them all? I loved Amy May and Grace especially.

I have spoken about the two Margaret’s who inspired me to write Grace but in many ways I have also been inspired by teachers from my own school years. When I wrote my first novel ‘ Artichoke Hearts’ I was at a school event and an elderly lady came up to me to ask if I would sign. She was a teacher who had known me when I was ten years old she asked if I remembered her…. I did and in many ways she has stayed  with me  over the years – one of my Grace angels, encouraging me, giving me confidence. Just as Amy May’s father never forgets Grace…. I haven’t forgotten the teachers who helped me find the confidence  to be a writer either.

Amy May grew straight out of my imagination and an awareness of how many children need to make the adjustments to changes in their families that they don’t have any power over. In Amy May I wanted to create a character who has experienced a relatable story that many children do experience, or know people who have experienced. Rima’s family experience of having to leave her country and wider family in Syria is so extreme and different to Amy May’s but their friendship also allows the two girls to explore how what they have in common is a search for security.   

A beautiful Jane Ray illustration from Worry Angels

3b. What did you love about Amy May and Grace? What do you think the characters learn from each other in the story? 

They just seemed very real, and I empathised hugely with Amy-May and Rima. I loved watching them learn about one another and become friends. Grace is someone I’d love to know. She was so reassuring and calming.

4. A big part of Worry Angels are the crafts Amy May and Rima do with Grace. Do you enjoy arts and crafts? What have some of your favourite projects been, if yes?

I am a very crafty author!  I create words and stories and then I make things… or work with people who make things. My collaboration with the artist Grace who made the animation for ‘Worry Angels’ and also ‘Red Leaves’ as well as a walk in installation for ‘ Kite Spirit’ is all about exploring the stories through visual projects. I even have a patchwork storytelling quilt that I take around schools with me to explore the place in all of us where creative writing comes from. Like Grace I am a collector of small objects that I place in my quilt and use to help me talk about my stories.
I love graphic novels and illustrated novels and I am so honoured that the wonderful Jane Ray’s drawings grace the pages of ‘Worry Angels.’ We work together at Islinton Centre for Refugees and Migrants… and I think Jane has created the art room that she dreams of working in too. If I could step into her art room right now I would.

4b. How about you Amy? Do you like crafts and art? If so what do you get out of them? Would you like to visit Grace’s art room? If so what, of the activities Grace offers would be your preferred activity? Baking/ sandplay/ papier mache/ gardening/ art?

I’m afraid I’m the least artistic person in the world! (Seriously, even my stick men are deformed). I do enjoy it though when I’m not under any pressure to produce something good, so I’d love to do some art and crafts and baking with Grace. I’d love to plant pretty flowers in the garden too.

5. Amy`s mum seems to struggle with the idea of Grace`s school, which teaches mainly through art and holistic methods. What are your thoughts on schools like this?

Sometimes one dreams up the worlds that we would like to exist. The truth is that there are more and more children suffering from school anxiety and anxiety in general.  I think it’s an area that needs proper attention and funding as if young people’s anxieties are not cared for they can become much more serious as they grow into teenagers and young adults. I wish that there could be a Grace and an Iman and a sandcastle support centre attached to every school in the country….and even though that is unlikely to happen in the current funding climate perhaps something of the quality of Grace’s centre might filter through into schools. 

The magic of writing is that you can wave your pen-wand and make something true in a story…. I’ll keep waving! 

5b) What do you think of these kind of holistic schools? In my story The Sandcastle Support Centre is for children with anxiety? What aspect of the centre do you think would be good to integrate into schools in general? How would this benefit young people? 

I think these schools are fabulous, and I’d love to see them imtroduced into every school, so that children struggling for some reason could 

Cheeky bonus question- Would you ever revisit these characters? I really want to know what`ll happen next!

Well strangely enough. I have been invited by Scoop Magazine to write a little off shoot story of ‘Worry Angels’ and I chose to write a story about Grace’s retirement day when everyone at the centre sets out on a day trip to….

I haven’t thought about a ‘Worry Angels’ story beyond that… but you never know… one of the characters may tap me on the shoulder at some point in the future and ask me to write their story forward from ‘Worry Angels!’

6b At what age would you like to see these characters again? 

I’m not sure what age, but I’d love to see Amy-May and Rima help another child the way Grace and Iman help them in Worry Angels.

You find Sita on Twitter @sitabrahmachari and on her website here.

Thank you so much for reading? What did you think of Worry Angels? Are you a fan of Barrington Stoke? What activity would you choose in Grace’s art room?

See you soon with a new post 

Amy xxx

#sixforsunday : My Favourite Genres

Hello everybody!

Today, I’m once again taking part in Steph’s Six For Sunday meme. Today, the theme is our favourite genres. Let’s get started on mine, along with some of my favourite books/authors within them!

In no particular order…

Romance- I always enjoy a swoony romance. There’s just something about watching two characters falling in love that hooks me in to a book. Some recent favourites include A Quiet Kind of ThunderAnna and the French Kiss and the Start of Me and You. 

Contemporary- I also love contemporary novels without romance, such as Beautiful Broken Things and Wing Jones (I know this does have some fabulous romance, but it also has quite a separate storyline so I regard it more as contemporary than romance). Even though I barely ever see it, I also love contemporary MGs. Being Miss Nobody, which fits that description, has been one of my top three reads this year, and another great example of contemporary MG is Susie Day.

Mystery- Even though I said this was in no particular order, mystery may well be my favourite genre of all. It got me back into reading at a time when I fell out of love with it (I’m forever indebted to Laura Marlin and Adventure Island, which I still reread often) and I think the quality of MG mystery being released at the minute, for example Robin Stevens’s Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries, is absolutely sublime. 

Adventure- Recently, I’ve started to read some more middle grade adventure stories. I fell head over heels for the lyrical contemporary adventure Running on the Roof of the World, as you’ll probably already know if you’ve read some of my posts before, and I also loved the more action packed Defender of the Realm. 

Fantasy- WhileI don’t enjoy some more epic fantasies, I do love some more understated ones. Prisoner of Ice and Snow is a wonderful MG fantasy and I can’t wait for the next in the series! Polly Ho-Yen’s stunning books also have some fantasy elements, along with contemporary and magical realism.

Historical- It’s absolutely fascinating to read about other times and places, and these books are often based on real facts and sometimes even events. Emma Carroll really is ‘The Queen of Historical Fiction’ and Karen McCombie’s recent historical/timeslip offerings are also excellent.

Thank you so much for reading! I’d love to hear about your favourite genres in the comments down below or on my Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl

See you soon with a new post,

Amy xxx

September Reviews

Hello everybody! 

Today I’m sharing my reviews of all of the AMAZING books I’ve read in September (except for the few I really didn’t enjoy). Let’s get onto the reviews! 😊😊

Going Viral by Amy Alward (recieved from the publisher via Toppsta)

In the 3rd and final instalment of the Potion Diaries trilogy, we see our alchemist heroine Sam attempt to save Princess Evelyn from a mysterious virus and her new husband Stefan (who I found a seriously menacing villain). This book felt a lot darker to me than books one and two, somehow and I found it totally gripping as I read the book in a day. Alward builds the tension of the mystery perfectly and expertly lets the reader in on information throughout, and it`s really interesting to read a POV fully aware of the situation and the dangers and one who is totally in the dark (this was nailbiting material for me at points!). This book also continued to be a fabulous blend of contemporary and fantasy, with a wonderful heroine whose strength and determination I really admired. Finally, I loved the side characters, and even though I had predicted something quite different I liked the ending a lot. 4.5/5
The Matilda Effect by Ellie Irving
In her latest novel, Ellie Irving tells the story of aspiring inventor Matilda as she journeys to Switzerland with her Granny Joss to get the Nobel Prize which has been stolen by a man, but rightfully belongs to her gran! This is delightfully silly and has such a colourful, zany cast of characters who really had me giggling throughout. I thought many of the people Matilda and Granny meet along the way celebrated the good in humanity, no matter how hidden it may be. I was thrilled to learn more about females in STEM through this book, and I feel it balanced the feminist message and Ellie Irving`s glorious sense of humour wonderfully. If you`re looking for a 21st century version of Roald Dahl`s Matilda, look no further. 4/5
The Starlight Barking by Dodie Smith 

In the follow up to one of my favourite children`s classics, Dodie Smith tells the story of the delightful Dalmatian gang as they wake up one morning and discover that all the humans across the world are asleep, and they set off for London to try and solve the problem. This is very much a sci-fi story, which I hadn`t really expected, but it maintained the gentle, charming loveliness that made me fall in love with The One Hundred and One Dalmatians and I had a lot of fun reading the Starlight Barking too. It was amazing to see all of the characters from book one again and to see how some of them, like Cadpig, have changed while others, like absolutely precious Roly have stayed just the same, although they`re all as loveable as ever. Finally, I think both of these books would be really accessible for any children wanting to get into classics as they`re quite short and are at their heart just lovely stories about animals, adventure and the love between humans or their pets (or the other way around 😉 ).
The Dragon With a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis

This book is an absolutely delicious read from page one; what more could you want in a book than a feisty but likeable heroine, some dragons and yummy sounding chocolate? This tells the tale of Aventurine, a dragon who gets turned into a chocolate obsessed human by a sneaky food mage, and her struggle with adjusting to human life as she begins work in a chocolate house. This was a very relaxing, escapism read as while the plot moves along at a steady pace and I was most certainly never bored, it wasn`t packed with action and I was never confused by anything that happened. It was also hugely funny in places, and I especially adored Aventurine`s family (especially her grandfather!) as they added so much humour and I`m sure many readers will be able to identify with her sibling rivalries and feeling inferior to her siblings. This reads like the absolute best sort of Disney film in book form (I`d love a film version) and I`m looking forward to the companion novel next year! 4.5/5
The Great Chocoplot by Chris Callaghan

In his debut novel, Chris Callaghan tells the story of Jelly and her family, who live in the town which produces/consumes the most chocolate, and the madness which ensues when a news programme declares that chocolate will cease to exist in just 5 days` time. Jelly decides to investigate and soon finds that the `Chocopocalypse` is perhaps not such a natural disaster after all… I thought Jelly was an amazing heroine and is a realistic role model for younger readers as while she`s brave, she also has a lot of anxious moments throughout and manages to persevere even though she`s afraid. I also thought it was excellent to see working class representation as that is the reality for a lot of young people in the UK. Finally, I thought the subtle mocking of social media hysteria was really interesting and also quite amusing in places. 4/5

The Lights Under the Lake by Sophie Cleverly

In the 4th book of the Scarlet and Ivy series, Sophie Cleverly managed to ensnare me completely from page 1. We follow the twins and some of their friends (and enemies) as they go on a school trip, where sinister incidents begin to take place and suspicion falls on Rose, who rarely speaks. The characters in these books just jump off the page (especially Scarlet, who I love) and I think they`re all well described and feel realistic whether they`re good, bad or in between. Another thing I was very impressed by was that it was really easy to tell whether it was Scarlet and Ivy speaking in the dual narrative without having to check, which I don`t find is often the case. I thought the mystery was excellent as I was initially incredibly smug as I thought the solution was obvious but Sophie Cleverly totally prove me wrong after some spectacular twists towards the end, which left me unable to put this down. I`m so excited to read the newly released the Curse in the Candlelight soon! 5/5

Defender of the Realm: Dark Age by Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler

In an excellent follow up to Defender of the Realm, we continue to follow Alfie, the new king as he negotiates his new royal duties, especially his role as the secret superhero Defender who fights against the mythical monsters who were the real causes of historical disasters. I loved how Huckerby and Ostler expanded this world in this instalment, particularly when we got to meet royals from another country. I also grew even more attached to Alfie, his friend Hayley and the rest of the crew at the Keep (LC always make me chuckle). I thought the development of Alfie`s brother Prince Richard in this book was phenomenal, particularly as he was such a minor character in book one. This was absolutely action packed, so much so I got a bit muddled about what was happening at some point and I`m really crossing my fingers for film versions as it reads like watching a superhero film. After the dramatic ending, I cannot WAIT to get hold of book 3 next year. 4.5/5

Worry Angels by Sita Brahmacari and illustrated by Jane Ray ( sent to me by publisher in exchange for my honest review)

In this novella for Barrington Stoke, Sita Brahmachari tells the story of Amy-May who has begun to suffer from anxiety after her parents divorce and how she goes to Grace`s art school instead of secondary and meets Rima, a Syrian refugee. Rima`s story was heartbreaking and I loved that this book showed her family as real people, not a problem for the country. Even though they couldn`t initially speak to one another, I still loved her friendship with Amy-May and how it developed throughout. While I did find the writing hard to adjust to at first, it`s absolutely stunning, and I also adored the hopeful, heartwarming ending for the girls. Finally, Jane Ray`s interior illustrations are beautiful and really enhance the story. 4/5

The Taken by Inbali Iserles

In this novel, Inbali Iserles tells the story of fox cub Isla as her whole family go missing and her journey to try and find them. This story is so well written and has vivid description, and I love that Iserles has created a language and full world of their own for foxes as it was so interesting, and it really reminded me of the wonderful Warriors series (which Iserles was a ghostwriter for) in this respect. The glossary at the back was super helpful to keep track of all the different aspects of the worldbuilding. Isla is a wonderful narrator and I felt so sorry for her throughout the book. I also adored her companion Siffrin, who I`m very much hoping to see again in the Elders. I thought that this book perfectly balanced quieter scenes and action scenes, and managed to build tension and drama constantly so that I was always looking forward to picking it up again. The only thing I found slightly confusing were the flashback scenes as even though I loved seeing them it was difficult to tell when it was happening. 4.5/5

The Summer of Telling Tales by Laura Summers

This is the touching and at times frankly terrifying story of sisters Ellie and Grace as they and their mum escape to the seaside from a life of horrific abuse at the hands of their dad. It was so incredibly heartwarming to watch them build new lives for themselves and while I didn`t always understand Ellie`s actions I still liked and sympathised with her, despite preferring Grace`s POV. The sisters were very unique and it would have been easy to tell who was speaking even without the clear formatting. Alongside Grace, I also loved side character Ryan who was so sunny and optimistic, and really supported Grace throughout the novel. This book was such an emotional rollercoaster; I didn`t stop crying once throughout (not joking here), but those were with joy and sadness, and my heart was completely in my mouth during some scenes toward the end. This story and these characters are going to stay with me for a long time and even though it`s now a few years old I`d really recommend trying to get a copy. 5/5

The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy ( recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

In her captivating debut, Emily Bain Murphy tells the story of Aila as she moves to a town called Sterling, where an important sense or ability disappears once every seven years (fo example, colouring in). I was enraptured by the world Bain Murphy builds, and I loved the prose, which is stunning but never crosses into being “purple”. I also found Aila to be a wonderful character: she was complex and relatable, but still likeable as our narrator. I loved the sibling relationship of Aila and her brother Miles as it was so sweet but felt realistic and I enjoyed Aila`s romance with Will too. I didn`t really understand the chapters in italics but I otherwise really enjoyed this simmering, slow-building magical realism mystery which felt nothing quite like anything I`ve ever read before. 4/5.

Alex Sparrow and the Really Big Stink by Jennifer Killick (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

In this delightful middle grade adventure, we`re told the story of Alex as he develops a strange superpower with an even stranger (and definitely stinker!) side effect. I loved this a lot. Alex is a truly loveable main character and his friend Jess was fabulous too. They worked really well as a duo and the banter between them was just brilliant. Their bickering was the source of a lot of giggles throughout this book, and I especially found the scenes with Bob the goldfish hilarious! The superhero plot is fun and silly, with a few twists I didn`t actually expect but I also really liked the way the book shows some of the realities of primary school life too, and how difficult friendships can be at that age. I`m already excited for Alex`s second adventure! 4.5/5

Truly Madly Awkward by Beth Garrod

In the 2nd Bella Fisher book, we see Bella navigate friendship difficulties, her budding romance (or is it?) with Adam, a radio competition that`s piling on the pressure to win a gig from her favourite band for her school and her mum`s new business venture. While I struggled to adapt to the writing style a little at first, once I adjusted I thought the plot was fun and I definitely found myself chuckling constantly throughout! I really liked the radio competition, which was the main plot point of the novel, and I was seriously rooting for Bella to do well and defeat her mysterious rival `Letty`. I also loved how much the characters developed throughout this instalment; I feel like I got to know Bella`s friends much better and got quite attached to them, and I developed a major love for her big sister Jo, who was basically my favourite thing about this book as she was so witty and snarky, but also had Bella`s best interests at heart deep down. My other highlight was the super sweet romance between Bella and Adam and how that progressed in this book. I`m looking forward to reading more from Garrod in the future, and hopefully seeing Bella`s world grow and expand even more. 4/5 

The Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud

This was pretty much everything I could have hoped for in the finale to one of my most beloved series; a witty, adventurous romp through the alternate version of London I`ve come to know and love with characters I couldn`t love any more if I tried. This book sees the team tackle a very spooky supernatural case in a theatre (do not, as I did, try to read the scenes with this ghost in them by candlelight. You will only terrify yourself.) and also face off against the formidable Fittes agency once and for all. The book moves at an excellent pace and I totally tore through it, and I was so happy that all of the characters were at their very best for their last outing. The Skull, undoubtedly my favourite character, had me cackling at some of his comments. These books are honestly worth reading just for him! Finally, I was very satisfied by the ending, even though a part of it made me cry quite considerably. If you haven`t picked up this series yet, I highly recommend them, even if you aren`t usually into this sort of book. I`m not, and this has become one of my favourite series of all time over the years. 5/5

It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne

In her newest release, Holly Bourne tells the story of Audrey and Harry as they meet and fall in love, but for real, not the way it happens in all the movies. Real love and romance film love being vastly different is the theme of Audrey`s Media project and I really liked the paragraphs exploring different aspects of this at the start of some chapters, and also the general exploration of the topic throughout the book as it offered a balanced view on the subject. I thought the characters were amazing; Audrey is so relatable and nuanced and cynical and generally just a wonderful lead (I felt so much sympathy for her family problems and worries about her life throughout, and wanted to give her a massive hug), and even though we aren`t probably meant to I utterly adored Harry too. Their bosses at the cinema, Lou Lou and Ma, were the perfect side characters; supportive to the prontagonists and offering us some fabulous comic relief in places too. Finally, I liked the ending in terms of Audrey and Harry`s relationship even though I hadn`t expected it to go that route, and although I do wish we`d found out whether Audrey was going to proceed with further studies in Media or Drama, this was a superb contemporary that I think a lot of people are going to love. 4.5/5


Thank you so much for reading! What did you think of these books, if you’ve read any? What were your favourite books of September?  I’d really love to hear in the comments below! 

See you soon with a new post 

Amy xxx 

My Smashing September Book Haul!

Hello everyone!

Today, I’m planning to share all of the books I’ve amassed since my book haul this time last month. (Which is actually quite restrained for me 😱😱)

Let’s get started!

READ

So far this month, I’ve read a couple of the books I recieved, which I won’t say much about as I’ll be reviewing them at the end of September. They are;

Going Viral by Amy Alward (recieved in a giveaway from Toppsta)- this is the third and final book in the fantastic Potion Diaries series, and I thought it was the best by far! 

The Great Chocoplot by Chris Callaghan- While a world without chocolate is one of my worst nightmares, it makes for a fabulous middle grade adventure novel!

Defender of the Realm, and Dark Age (not pictured) by Nick Ostler and Mark Huckerby- I chose Defender of the Realm as one of my bookish rewards for doing so well in my exams (along with a few others) and enjoyed it so much I bought the sequel before I even finished it. I’ve now read it too, and I have no idea how I’m going to wait almost a year for the next book 😭😭

BOUGHT

Next up, the books I bought. 

I recieved a couple of others for my exam results (Lorali, which I wanted to read because I LOVE mermaids and Following Ophelia, which sounds fascinating and also becuase Sophia Bennett’s last book Love Song was an absolute favourite last year).

I also bought a few for myself; Knights of the Borrowed Dark by Dave Rudden (just after reading Defender of the Realm, as I’m sure I’ve seen this compared to that), Hole in the Middle by Kendra Fortmeyer (the 1st chapter of this is utterly hilarious, and as soon as I read the extract I HAD to have it), Stunt Double by Tamsin Cooke (I’ve been meaning to get this for ages, I absolutely loved the blog tour for this and the book sounds right up my alley. Isn’t in the photo as one it’s in won’t upload 😔) and The Boy With One Name by JR Wallis, which I treated myself to on a trip to Tesco as it just soumds the sort of thing I’ll really enjoy. 

LIBRARY 

I’ve only taken one book out of the library this month so far 😮😮😮, but it looks superb. I loved Divided City and Ghost Soldier, so I’m hoping I’ll feel the same way about the Rasputin Dagger, especially as I find the take of Rasputin REALLY interesting. 
RECEIVED

Finally, the books I’ve been lucky enough to recieve, whether from giveaways or from publishers to review. I was sent The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Spy Toys: Out of Control, The Mystery of Me, and last but not least, Worry Angels (which I’ve already sped through, and it was super lovely) from their respective publishers. I’m looking forward to reading the others too, as they all sound phenomenal in really different ways!

The wonderful Georgina from Toppsta sent me a couple of extras with Going Viral (The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, and Here be Witches, which both sound UTTERLY brilliant.) I also won a proof copy of A Shiver of Snow and Sky from Scholastic, and it sounds brilliant. 

Thank you so much for reading!

What books have you amassed this month? Where do you think I should start with my pile? Please let me know in the comments below or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favourite Childhood Books/Series

Hello everyone!

Today I’m taking part in the Top Ten Tuesday meme, hosted over at the Broke and the Bookish

Today’s theme is a Throwback freebie, so I decided to talk about some books I loved when I was younger. As there is a little bit of an overlap in theme with my Books Which Made Me a Reader post, I’m only going to mention a few of those here so this is bit different! (Unsurpisingly, once I started thinking I got really indecisive and have ended up with slightly more than 10, and that’s the main reason why I’m not talking about many of the books on my other list)

Let’s get started! 😊

MY SISTER THE VAMPIRE by Sienna Mercer- This is a FABULOUS open-ended series aimed at 9+ (currently 18 books long) about Ivy (a vampire) and Olivia (a human) as they dicover they’re long lost twins, and set about solving the mysteries of their past. I’m really overdue a reread of these; especially since I haven’t yet got round to the latest! The first 10 especially are exceptionally good.

TOTALLY LUCY and RAINBOW BEAUTY by Kelly McKain-  Kelly McKain was one of my very favourite authors when I was younger. Totally Lucy is about a girl called Lucy (shockingly 😱) and her ambitions to be a fashion designer and her friendships and romantic mishaps. They’re in diary format, quite silly and funny and also slightly predictable as you get further on, but they’re a lot of fun.

Rainbow Beauty, aimed at slightly older readers, is about Abbie as her family is shattered and she and her mum/sisters move to Devon to start up a beauty parlour and try and make their lives good again. This is a gorgeous series; the first 2 books are brilliant summery reads and the 3rd, Blueberry Wishes, is totally perfect to get you in the mood for Autumn. 

MALORY TOWERS/FIVE FIND-OUTERS by Enid Blyton- I am a massive fan of Enid Blyton (despite a librarian once trying to tell me I shouldn’t be 😑) and these two series are my favourites. Even though I enjoyed the Famous Five books, I think that the Five Find Outers are far superior, and vastly underrated! They’re fabulously plotted mysteries and the characters (particularly Fatty) are absolutely hilarious.

Malory Towers is much better known, and they are about Darrell as she starts Malory Towers (and Pamela Cox has written 6 books about her little suster Felicity’s time at the school too). They’re absolutely excellent!


MY LIFE STARRING MUM by Chloe Rayban-
 compared with my last choices, this book isn’t very famous. It’s about Holly, who just wants to be a regular girl, but isn’t able to because her mum is world famous popstar Khandi. I reread this fairly recently and didn’t love it too much at all, but when I was young it was my go to funny book.

SCARLETT by Cathy Cassidy– I’m still a huge Cathy Cassidy fan now, especially of the Chocolate Box Girls series, but Scarlett was by far my favourite book of hers growing up. It’s the story of misfit troublemaker Scarlett as she moves in with her estranged dad and his new family in Ireland and what happens when she meets the gorgeous Kian at the local lough. This book is still really wonderful when I reread, and I highly recommend it for the hilarious scenes, the touching ones, and the portrayal of complicated but loving family relationships.

SECRET BREAKERS by HL Dennis- Even though I actually didn’t like this series when I first read it, I grew to adore it. I always describe these as mysteries that aren’t about who dun it or how, it’s about what it means. The 6 book series (which is incredibly well paced) tells the story of ‘Team Veritas’ a team if children and talented ex code crackers as they come together to try and work out the contents of the Voynich Manuscript. The charcaters are all super lovable (my personal favourite is Hunter, who is just delightful) and the mystery keeps you reading even though the chapters/books are quite chunky.

PONY CLUB SECRETS by Stacy Gregg- I adore this series about Issie and her dreams of equestrian superstardom as she grows up in New Zealand, and my love grows even deeper with every reread. This is the series that I was most excited about new releases in (I used to read them the day I got my hands on them) and it features one of my favourite romances of all time with Issie and Aidan 😍

THE 39 CLUES by various authors- I’m not sure why barely anyone has heard of this series, but I would love for everyone to read it! They’re very clever, and are about a family searching for clues that lead to a prize which will make them the most powerful people on earth, and this hunt is linked with their ancestors (who in this alternate world are all members of different branches of the Cahill family). I can’t shout enough about these; if you can, please do read them and come fangirl with me!

MATES, DATES by Cathy Hopkins- This is the 1st teen series I read (even though I was probably too young 😂) and I adored them. They’re about the friendships, relationships and family troubles of a group of four girls in North London, and they’re really addictive and fun. I got in touch with Cathy after reading them and she’s now a family friend, and the dog in one of her latest releases a Home for Shimmer is actually based on and named after mine!

ALLYS WORLD by Karen McCombie- These books, which are some of the funniest I’ve ever read, are about Ally Love, who feels like the only normal one in her chaotic family. I adored these books so much that I went to see Karen at the Edinburgh Book Festival and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. I’ve now read almost all of her books (except for a few now out of print and most of her Barrington Stoke titles),  but Ally’s World will always be my favourite (Stella Etc also holds a very special place in my heart)

ADVENTURE ISLAND by Helen Moss- To finish, I want to talk about this series, which I always describe as having changed my life. This blog almost certainly wouldn’t exist without them; they rescued me when I was falling out of love with reading, and they were what made me start reviewing books too. They’re about brothers Scott and Jack being forced to go to Cornwall for a summer holiday (in the 1st books at least, in later ones they’re desperate to get there!) and them solving mind-boggling mysteries with their new friend Emily and her dog Drift. These are truly modern day Enid Blyton style mysteries, and in my opinion, might even be better. I’m also lucky enough to know Helen herself (and have met up for a day of bookish goodness, where she introduced me to another book I absolutely loved; Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Thank you so much for reading! I’d love to hear about your favourite childrood reads in the comments below! 

See you soon with a new post 

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