February Reviews

My reviews of all the books I read in February!

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Hello everybody!

Today, I`m going to be sharing my reviews for the books I`ve read in February, and I`ve had a really good reading month despite not reading quite as much as I did in January. Onto the reviews!

Battle of the Beetles by M.G Leonard and illustrated by Karl J Mountford

Had you told me before I started them that I`d be such a fan of this series, I wouldn`t have believed you, but boy, am I a fan of this series. It started wonderfully with Beetle Boy in 2016, upped the ante with Beetle Queen last year, and has now concluded perfectly with Battle of the Beetles. If you`ve been living under a rock and haven`t heard of these books, they`re about a young boy called Darkus stumbling upon some very special beetles and his subsequent involvement in attempting to stop Lucretia Cutter, a scientist/fashion designer with dark intentions, from using them to wreak havoc on the world. The younger characters are as brave, funny and clever as always and guardian Uncle Max is an excellent adult figure, but the one I want to mention most of all is Lucretia Cutter, who is a masterclass in writing a villain. She is absolutely one you love to hate, but at the same time you can see why she is doing some of what she is (though she is of course, still evil, and I do not support her, to clarify!). This was a truly exciting adventure, and I stayed up until the early hours to finish it as I couldn`t go to sleep without knowing the ending. The final scene brought a huge smile to my face, and captured exactly why I love the main quartet of characters and these books so very much. 5/5

The Witch`s Blood by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr (received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

Picking up directly from the jaw dropping cliffhanger in book 2, this continues the story of teenage witch Merry as she and her friends/family tackle a new magical problem. First of all, Merry is a wonderful protagonist, and I thought she was even more strong and determined in achieving her aims in this instalment of the series. I loved the way in which her relationship with Finn developed, and I was rooting for them desperately to succeed in their romance despite the difficult situations they were in throughout the book. The secondary characters, most notably Merry`s lovely brother Leo and Finn`s cousin, who was introduced in this book, are also excellent additions to the cast, and I enjoyed the complicated dynamics of Merry`s coven, which is responsible for a lot of the conflict within the book, as well as a deeply horrible villain I don`t want to mention for fear of spoiling someone who hasn`t read the 2nd book yet! The ways in which the contemporary and fantasy elements intersect is really interesting too, and I also thought the magic system was fantastic as it both refers to back to elements we`ve seen in previous books and introduces new ones. I hadn`t expected the ending to go where it did, but it was a brilliant conclusion that`s left me looking forward to whichever of their secret projects Kate and Liz release next. 4.5/5

When the Mountains Roared by Jess Butterworth (received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

Given how much I loved Running on the Roof of the World, this book had to meet high expectations, and it most definitely did for me. It tells the story of Ruby, as her family move very suddenly from Australia to India, taking with them a collie dog called Polly and a smuggled kangaroo joey, and stumbling upon a sinister poaching plot on the mountains on their arrival. Ruby was a superb heroine, and I defy anyone not to love her; I thought she was incredibly brave both in her efforts to investigate/halt the poaching operation and in coming to terms with her grief and guilt over her mum`s tragic death prior to the beginning of the book. Another aspect of her I loved was her love for animals, which shone through on every page, as I really related to that feeling. On that note, the animal characters are beyond endearing and lovely, and I loved each and every one, including both of those I`ve mentioned already, a leopard cub, some adorable goats and several others. Another character who I absolutely have to mention is Ruby`s wise, witty and generally wonderful Grandma. Jess`s vivid, stunning prose brings the Indian setting to life in a way that makes you feel as if you`re in the world alongside the characters; experiencing every sense and emotion they are. I cried more than once reading this, and I could barely put it down during the time I spent with it as I just had to learn the fate of the characters as soon as possible. Yet another triumph from an author who is fast becoming an all time favourite of mine.5/5

Squirrel Meets World by Shannon and Dean Hale

In this prequel to the Squirrel Girl comics (which I`ve never read), we see Doreen Green using her powers for the first time as a villain decides to make her their adversary. First of all, while I did have mixed feelings on the books, I did quite enjoy it overall, and it was a fun plot. I loved the chapters narrated by Tippy Toe the squirrel and the worldbuilding of the squirrel community/world was fantastic, I was thrilled to see representation of a character with hearing aids in the form of Ana Sofia and Doreen`s texts where she attempts to seek advice from the Avengers about her budding superhero career with hilarious results that often made me smile. However, I struggled a bit with Doreen as a character, and I found some of the plot quite predictable, which meant I wasn`t always desperate to pick it up again to see what would happen next. I`m unsure if I`ll continue with this series, but even though not everything in this book was to my personal taste, I would still recommend this if you think it sounds like the sort of thing you`ll enjoy. 3.5/5

The Creakers by Tom Fletcher and illustrated by Shane Devries

I`m always wary of celebrity authors, but Tom Fletcher is one of the best I`ve read. His 2nd novel is the story of Lucy, as she wakes up one morning and discovers that all the adults in her town have disappeared, due to the mysterious Creakers. While I didn`t think it was quite as wonderful as in the Christmasaurus, I really enjoyed the worldbuilding, and the fact that the customs of the Creakers are so well explained. I liked the main trio, and thought the concept was fun, and I was rather surprised by one of the twists even though I saw a few others coming. I was also quite shocked by how sweet I found the Creakers (the majority of the time, anyway), which I put down to Shane Devries`s fantastic illustrations of them. A final thing I enjoyed about this was the way in which it`s narrated; by a sort of omniscient 3rd person narrator, who frequently breaks the fourth wall and addresses the reader. I`m looking forward to Tom`s next MG release already. 4/5

A Spoonful of Murder by Robin Stevens

As much as I love this series with every fibre of my being, I underestimated just how special it would be to return to the world of Daisy and Hazel. This instalment sees them journey to Hong Kong after a (natural) death in Hazel`s family, and on their return they learn that Hazel now has a brother, which could jeopardise her place in the family, and when he goes missing Hazel is not just the detective but a suspect. It was fascinating to see Hong Kong and be immersed in that culture, and the friendship between Hazel and Daisy is as gloriously complicated as ever. It was incredibly interesting to see Hazel as the one who understands the customs of the country and Daisy as the outsider, and I loved every single scene they share. They both shine as separate characters also; Hazel has developed so much from Murder Most Unladylike, and I feel so very proud of her with how well she handles everything she comes up against, as well as how kind and clever she is and it was lovely to see Daisy support her through her more vulnerable moments while retaining her usual humour and focus on catching the criminals. Finally, I thought the mystery was complex, and I adore the way the Robin drops enough clues to give you an idea of who is responsible, but throws in a twist you aren`t expecting too. This series goes from strength to strength every time, and I`m desperate for book seven already. 5/5

Artie Conan Doyle and the Gravediggers` Club by Robert J Harris

I was very intrigued by the premise of this series, as it focuses not on a younger version of Sherlock Holmes, but instead his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle. The story focuses on Artie and his friend Ham as they become embroiled in solving a mystery involving the rather horrible Gravediggers` Club. I found it interesting to learn more about his background and family, even though I`m not sure whether or not he really was a young sleuth. I thought the mystery was interesting and quite complex, and I loved the homages to Sherlock Holmes which pop up throughout. My favourite part of the book was definitely the friendship between Ham and Artie, especially as Ham isn`t a typical sidekick in that he doesn`t always just follow whatever Artie wants to do and stands up for himself, and also as I liked their bickering/banter. I would have liked this to be a little bit longer, but I think it`s a good start to the series and I look forward to reading the next. 4/5

Secrets of a Teenage Heiress by Katy Birchall

This is the start of a new series focusing on Flick, the future heiress of the luxury Hotel Royale, as she is grounded just as the world`s most famous popstar arrives for a stay, though that doesn`t stop her for long, of course! I adore concepts like this, and this book was no exception; I found it glamourous, hugely enjoyable and the perfect escapist reading I needed when I read it. The hotel is a phenomenal setting, which I really enjoyed learning more about alongside Flick, as this is her punishment during her grounding, and thought was a great example of contemporary worldbuilding. Flick was a complex character, and it was fascinating to see so many sides of her as I was reading, and her development was wonderfully written. I also loved almost every member of the side cast (except those you`re not meant to), though special mentions must go to “annoying” concierge`s son Cal (who had a fab sense of humour), Flick`s super sweet friend Grace and her stroppy, Instagram superstar daschund Fritz, who was beyond hilarious. It was really cool to see a few people from the It Girl books too. I was so happy to learn I only have a few months to wait on the sequel after finishing this, especially as I think a love triangle of sorts is being foreshadowed in this, and I`m both excited to see how those relationships develop and declare my allegiance ship wise! 5/5

Hounds and Hauntings by Janine Beacham

In her 3rd adventure, Rose and her companions must work to discover what (or who) is committing murders in Yorke in the way a legendary beast called the Barghest was rumoured to. I think Rose is an excellent detective, I loved the more prominent role Orpheus was able to play in this book, and the butlers were as magnificent as ever. It was also great to see some familiar secondary characters from the previous books. The mystery was very intriguing, with a conclusion I didn`t see coming at all, and as things felt much higher stakes I was rather worried about how everything would play out, leaving me glued to the book so I could find out. Something else I adore about these books, alongside all I`ve previously mentioned and the brilliant worldbuilding of Yorke (which is a historical/fantasy blend), is the sense of humour, which I find fabulous. I`m very hopeful this won`t be the last I see of Rose, Orpheus and the Silvercrest Hall butlers, as I think this series is super underrated, but if it is, this was an excellent conclusion. 4.5/5

Movie Night by Lucy Courtenay

Movie Night tells the story of best friends Hannah and Sol (who is in love with Hannah) as they make a New Year`s Resolution to watch a film together every month, and their feelings towards each other begin to change. First of all, I really liked and sympathised with the feelings of both main characters even though I slightly preferred Sol`s chapters, and I thought the supporting cast (especially Sol`s very humorous dads Andrew and Gareth, and his rather hilariously violent cat Nigel) were brilliant. I also enjoyed the dialogue between characters, which was brilliant and felt realistic, and I particularly liked Sol and Hannah`s scenes, as well as those between Lizzie and Hannah I was so pleased with the choices of films, as it not only featured two of my top five favourites, but reminded me of several others I want to see, and introduced me to a few I haven`t heard of that I may now seek out. I found this a bit slow paced in places, but I thought it was a super fun YA contemporary overall, and the ending made my heart happy in the exact way a good romcom does. 4/5

A Witch Alone by James Nicol (received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review)

In the long awaited sequel to The Apprentice Witch, James Nicol transports us back to Lull, to catch up with the now fully qualified Arianwyn as she takes on a dangerous secret mission from the High Elder. It was even better than the first book, and Arianwyn is still a brilliant main character. I especially like that we see her make mistakes in her role and her friendship with Salle, as it shows she isn`t perfect, and is a lovely message. The development and new challenges of Arianwyn and Salle`s aforementioned friendship feel realistic, but I love that they`re also always there for each other when they really need it. Other characters I thought were amazing were the feylings and Arianwyn`s lovely moon hare Bob. The plot was engaging and fun, and some scenes were rather intense, and I really felt this had a darker edge than the Apprentice Witch while maintaining the cosy, charming feeling that made me fall in love with that at the same time. After the shocking turn of events towards the end, I`m desperate to get my hands on book 3, and very, very hopeful it won`t be released with as long a gap as this one way. 4.5/5

The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson (received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review)

In her enchanting debut novel, a reimagining of the Russian Baba Yaga folk tale, Sophie Anderson tells the story of Marinka, who lives in a house with chicken legs with her grandmother Baba Yaga and is destined to become a Guardian and guide the dead through the Gate, but wants to escape that fate and live a normal life. This premise was so original, and I`m not sure whether this is only as I don`t know the folk tale, but some of the revelations that come about in this were so unexpected they made me gasp aloud. The prose of this book is completely stunning, almost poetic, and my heart absolutely broke for Marinka at some points as her first person narration meant I felt as though I was experiencing everything she goes through alongside her, and at times I felt as though I was going to cry (and if I`m honest, I did. More than once). Her animal companions Jack and Benji were so sweet, and I thought the supporting cast, especially the Old Yaga and Benjamin, were wonderful additions. However, my absolute favourite character in this book, which doubles as an incredibly vivid, unusual setting, was the house itself, which I feel has a personality and behaves like a character, and I had a lot of affection toward her. This is such a heartwarming, all round excellent read, and I`d definitely recommend picking up a copy after this is released. 5/5

Thank you so much for reading! Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Have I convinced you to read any? I`d love to hear from you in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl.

Amy xxx

January YA Reviews

Hello everybody!

Welcome to my young adult portion of reviews for the month of January. If you want to read the MG post, you can find it here. Onto the books!


Continue reading “January YA Reviews”

November/December Reviews

Hello everybody!

Today I`m going to be sharing my reviews for November and December. I haven`t read as much as I`d have liked over both, but I have been rereading for most of December so it`s not too bad. Onto the books!

The Fabled Beast Chronicles series by Lari Don

While I initially found this series harder to get into than the Spellchasers trilogy, by just the 2nd book I was absolutely immersed in the story of Helen, a talented fiddler, as her life becomes entwined with the fabled beasts when a centaur turns up at her house and asks her to heal him and their subsequent thrilling adventures. I thought Helen was an amazing heroine; strong, capable and independent, and I loved getting to know the fabled beasts. My particular favourites were Sapphire the dragon and Yann the centaur, but I also enjoyed getting to see more in depth how most of the species lived and their customs through excellent worldbuilding over the course of the quartet. I really hope Lari Don has another middle grade fantasy series of some sort coming soon, as she`s a master of them. 4.5/5

A Place Called Perfect by Helena Duggan

In her debut novel, Helena Duggan tells the story of Violet as she moves to the unusually perfect town Perfect, and her journey of realising that all is not as it seems. There is a sense of sinister foreboding from the off, and the tension increases gradually until I was absolutely glued to the book towards the end. Alongside the mystery plot of working out what`s gone wrong with the town and who`s behind it, I liked the friendship between Violet and Boy a lot, and them as individuals, and the secondary characters (good and evil alike) jumped off the page. On that note, the worldbuilding was so well done that I felt as if I were actually in Perfect with the characters, and the multi layered backstory was fabulous. I`m not sure where this will go in the sequel, but I`ll definitely be reading to find out. 4.5/5

The Polar Bear Explorers` Club by Alex Bell (illustrated by Tomislav Tomic)

Alex`s first foray into the middle grade genre is, in my eyes, is an example of MG at its very finest. It tells the tale of Stella Starflake Pearl, who longs to be an explorer, as she sets off with her adopted father Felix on her first expedition and ends up separated from the main group along with the three other children of the voyage. I absolutely adored the group dynamics, and each character. Beanie was particularly delightful (he is quite possibly one of my new favourites of all time) but I also liked wolf whisperer Shay (I want to whisper with animals, please), Stella was an excellent leader, and it was so interesting to see how initially hostile Edward developed over the course of their journey. I also fell in love with the different animals and magical creatures the group encounter over the book (except, of course, the baddies) and loved how the book moved from one magical incident to another fluidly and always furthered either the relationships or plot. In case it`s not clear, I was completely obsessed with this book from beginning to end, and I have my fingers very tightly crossed for a sequel (or ten). 5/5

Undercover Princess by Connie Glynn

While I had expected to adore this book, it didn`t quite live up to my expectations. The writing style wasn`t especially to my taste, and I struggled to get to grips with the overcomplicated mystery plot, which never felt entirely linked to me. However, there were also parts of the book I enjoyed more. I liked the main trio, especially main character Lottie herself, and the friendships they strike up, as well as the unique and interesting system of monarchy, and getting to see both the dangerous and glamourous aspects of this. I also liked the ending, which was genuinely surprising and will probably lead me to pick up the second in the series at some stage after it`s released. 3.5/5

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth (received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

I went into this book with no idea of what it was going to be like, except knowing that it focused on Cameron Post as she grew up in a rural area in the 80s and explored her sexuality as a lesbian. I really liked Cameron as a character as I thought she was resilient, sometimes funny in her narration and strong, while also being flawed, and I also liked some of the secondary characters, especially those she meets during the 2nd half of the book after her aunt takes the drastic action alluded to in the blurb. Another thing I found interesting about the book, although it was a minor inclusion, was that Cameron`s aunt has neurofibromatosis (the condition I`m believed to have, albeit not the type it`s suspected I personally have and she experiences it very differently), which I was quite emotional to see represented in a book for the first time. However, there were also several aspects of the book I really struggled with. I found the first half of the book, which is rather long at almost 500 pages, incredibly slow to the point where I was close to DNFing, and I found the prose too “purple”. Overall, this was a book I learnt quite a lot from, but it wasn`t my cup of tea. 3/5

The Ghost Light by Sarah Rubin

I see very little buzz around the Alice Jones mysteries online, but I`ve thoroughly enjoyed both instalments so far. This book tells the story of Alice, who lives in Philadelphia, as she becomes in another mystery, this time involving sabotage and scary accidents at a local theatre. I love what a clever, independent heroine Alice is, and the colourful characters who surround her from her lovely journalist dad to arrogant film stars starring in the seemingly cursed, haunted play. I also thought the conclusion to the mystery was interesting as I only partially guessed the culprit, and there were several surprises. I did, however miss the presence of Sammy from the Impossible Clue, and thought the book felt quite different in tone too, but overall I think these are definetely underrated and I’d like a few more in the series. 4/5

The Secret Hen House Theatre by Helen Peters

After having this recommended to me, I decided to pick it up and give it a go. I found it initially quite hard to get into and connect with narrator Hannah, but I soon did and was swept up in this contemporary middle grade tale of a girl trying to save her family`s farm from being sold when the landlord bumps up the rent, while also putting on a play. It has the same whimsical, modern classic feel that Natasha Farrant captured in the Bluebell Gadsby series, and it features a large group of siblings. I loved that things weren`t perfect between the family in the slightest but they were still always there for each other and the gentle humour sprinkled throughout the book. I worried desperately about the characters till the end as there were so many twists when I thought they were nearing a happy ending, though I did love the one they eventually got. 4.5/5

Hole in the Middle by Kendra Fortmeyer

After seeing an excerpt from this book, I knew I wanted to read it, but the reality was very different to what I`d imagined. I didn`t find the book anywhere near as funny as I`d hoped, though I did find the plot of Morgan`s treatment for the hole in her torso interesting. I also liked the romance between her and Holden, as despite it being an odd addition after their initial reaction to one another they shared some lovely moments. Another element of the plot I enjoyed was the way the media treats Morgan, and finally the dysfunctional relationship between Morgan and her mother. I was less keen on the aspects previously mentioned, Morgan`s narrative style and the rather abrupt ending. 3.5/5

Rocking Horse War by Lari Don

After loving both the Spellchasers trilogy and the Fabled Beast Chronicles, I had high expectations for Rocking Horse War and it delivered. While I initially struggled to get into it, and I hadn`t realised for some reason it was set historically, I was very intrigued by Pearl`s story of waking up one morning and discovering her troublesome triplet siblings gone. She becomes tangled up in mysterious magic, and must battle to take the triplets home. I liked Pearl a lot; she was so determined and focused, and never gave up. Another thing I thought was great was that we got to see the impact of the first world war on a family, which isn`t especially common but I find fascinating. Finally, as always, Lari Don`s worldbuilding and magic system was exceptionally well done, particularly as we are learning more about it along with Pearl gradually so it never feels like an infodump despite the small page count. 4.5/5

The Many Worlds of Albie Bright by Christopher Edge

This was a lovely read, and I`m so glad I finally picked it up. It tells the story of Albie, whose mum has just died, and his experiment with quantum physics to try and find a universe she`s still in. It was a slice of life style format where we see a few hours in the lives of Albie`s counterparts (my personal favourite of which was Alba) and I found it such an original, clever idea. I also thought that Albie was a really sweet character, and unusually for me I actually grasped most of the science and never found it to overwhelm Albie`s journey. I definitely want to read more from Christopher Edge in 2018. 4.5/5

Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy (received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

Vashti Hardy`s debut is so incredibly special, and I can`t wait for everyone to be able to read it. It`s about twins Arthur and Maudie as they set off on a skyship adventure and attempt to clear their dad`s name of stealing fuel from another ship on his last expedition. I absolutely loved the twins, and their relationship with one another, and I thought the secondary characters added to the story marvellously. The thought wolves, especially gentle, noble Tuyok were simply incredible, and more than one part of this book left me breathless and in tears because I fell so hard for this world and these characters. Another addition I liked hugely was that it championed STEM, and I was impressed with it tackling disability, a real rarity in fantasy worlds, with Arthur only having one arm. I guessed a twist or two but I still had quite a few surprises, and after the conclusion I`m already desperate for the sequel. 5/5

The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher (illustrated by Shane Devries)

I`ll admit I was pretty sceptical going into this, seeing it`s by a celebrity author, but the overwhelming praise in the bookish community and shiny, pretty gold cover convinced me to pick it up, and I`m really glad I did. It`s the story of William Trundle as he faces ableist bullying at school until he receives a magical (and unintentional) Christmas gift from Santa that changes his life. I really liked William as a character, and the way his disability is portrayed, and I also had fun getting to know the multi layered secondary characters. Shane Devries` illustrations were a fantastic addition, and the book zips along at a great pace. My absolute favourite bit of this book, though, was the superb worldbuilding of the North Pole, which made this a truly magical read and I think children would adore it. 4.5/5

Sky Chasers by Emma Carroll (received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review

Having been excited for this book since the day it was announced, I was absolutely thrilled when it came through my door. I was gripped by the story of Magpie, a young orphan/pickpocket living in France as she becomes unexpectedly involved in a bid to become the first country to fly a hot air balloon. Emma Carroll`s writing is as beautiful and lyrical as ever, and never falls down the trap of going too far with this in favour of advancing the plot. I also adored Magpie as a character as she was so brave, clever and really deserving of the happiness she finds by the end, as well as her friend Pierre and the incredibly sweet animals; Coco, Voltaire and Lancelot. I got through this in two sittings despite having very little time to read at the time, as I couldn`t wait to see what would happen next. I`m so excited for Emma`s next book already! 5/5

Thank you so much for reading! Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Are any on your TBR? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx