Reviews: Pulling Down Stars Just to Make You Glow

Hello everybody! So, as you will know if you read my tweets, I did a 5 star predictions post either earlier this month or last month, and the result of that is that they’re my new obsession in life. So here are 13 books I thought I’d love, and was absolutely spot on about, all of which I obviously recommend very highly. Onto the post!

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Reviews: What’s the Name of the Game?

Hello everybody! Today, I have a little mini batch of reviews for you, all of which have a character’s name in the title (there would’ve been more, but you all know I’m mood reading loads at the moment and also buddy reading and then some other things for different posts have been calling to me and there were some that could’ve ended up in a few different ones, so at the risk of sounding like someone on Love Island … it is what it is).

Also: heads up that there may well be another post with the same theme soonish because I have so many books with names in the titles on my tbr right now, I swear! Onto the post!

The Extraordinary Voyage of Katy Willacott by Sharon Gosling (recieved a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

I’ve read and really enjoyed a couple of Sharon’s books now, and was lucky enough to be on the blog tour for this, so I’ve been eagerly anticipating picking it up and when I finally did, it didn’t disappoint. It’s the story of a girl named Katy, who lives at Kew Gardens and dreams of adventure, and she then joins an expedition to Brazil, which is going in search of a fallen meteorite. I loved how brave and noble Katy is as a person, and my favourite thing about the whole book is probably the characters because the secondary cast are so well drawn that they felt real, and Katy learns so much from almost each and every one of them. The setting is so beautifully described that again, it felt very three dimensional to me, and I also really liked the focus on nature/the importance of plants and wildlife. The ending is one of those full circle, perfect moments that was so well done it made me cry and also cheer, and as I always say when I review a Sharon Gosling book, I can’t wait to see what she does next; her books are always so different but have the same themes of family and friendship and feminism to tie them together like sisters.

Julia and the Shark by Kiran Millwood Hargrave with illustrated from Tom de Freston

(CW: suicide attempt)

I buddy read this with Soph, and I was very intrigued by it because this is a very different kind of book from Kiran, and based on this, I honestly love the new direction she seems to be going in. It follows a girl named Julia who goes to stay on a small Scottish island with her parents so they can work on projects there; her dad is working on the lighthouse, and her mum is attempting to find the elusive Greenland shark. As Julia settles in and makes friends, her mum’s mental health begins to deteriorate, and she sets out to find the shark as a way to help and ensure her mum’s safety. Julia is such an amazing character; she cares deeply for people and is so loving and warm, her family is imperfect but so caring and gorgeously depicted, and the friendships are real and complicated but also deep and moving and important. I’ve never been to Shetland (despite being Scottish), but I really feel like I have after reading this, because the writing is so evocative and just brings it to life. While the writing of this is already enough to make it stunning, the illustrations elevate it even further into that territory, and the climax/ending made me very weepy. I’m already very much looking forward to reading the forthcoming Leila and the Blue Fox.

Ellie Pillai is Brown by Christine Pillainayagam

I won a giveaway copy of this ages ago and I knew I’d enjoy it, so I have no idea what took me so long, but I know myself well (at least in terms of books!) and I was absolutely right that it would be an enjoyable read for me. It follows a Sri Lankan-English girl named Ellie Pillai, who is navigating the stresses of school and shifting friendship dynamics, which become even more complex when a new boy starts at school and she falls for him despite him being with her best friend. I think my favourite thing about this was that it very much has the coming of age, British John Hughes-style vibe I was expecting, but kind of turns some the typical beats of that story around and subverts expectations, to the point I actually wasn’t sure who would end up with who because there were so many plausible possibilities for how things could turn out. The characters are all so multi dimensional and layered that again, no one felt like a stereotype or even like a character because they just felt like people you could know for real, which again was reminiscent of John Hughes (for the record, he is my favourite director/producer of all time, so this is a Very Big Compliment in case it is construed in a different way). The music references totally did it for me and my music geek heart, and the main romance lowkey gave me butterflies because it was adorable and built on connecting through songs and it just made me happy. The way it did turn out, though, was for the record the way I wanted it to be, and I’ve heard there’s going to be a sequel so I will absolutely be reading that so I can see some more of these characters.

Etta, Invincible by Reese Eschmann

If you’re new around here, you may not know that I am disabled, and as part of that have major issues with balance and dizziness, and am also hard of hearing, so while I do not have menière’s disease, it’s one I am so similar to that I sometimes get pamphlets when I go to the hospital as the symptoms are so similar to the issues I have but my condition is too niche for pamphlets. So, I already liked the sound of this and was thrilled when I won a copy in the author’s giveaway, and then I heard it was about a young girl recently diagnosed with Menière’s and I was even more excited! It follows Etta, her new friend Eleazar and his dog Louisa May Alcott as they journey through this seemingly amazing magical train to find Louisa after she runs onto it, but then they discover that it is malfunctioning, making things become even more difficult for them. I’ve been saying this forever, but it’s no less true now, so this year has been revolutionary for disabilities rep in kid lit and it makes my heart happy. What a gorgeous, glorious gift it is to see people in books like me who aren’t tragic side characters, or villains. I could relate to so many of Etta’s issues, and although I also loved how artistic and caring she was as a person too, relating to her so much was one of the main reasons why I loved her. Her friendship with Eleazar is super special and lovely, I adored her supportive parents and you know I love a dog character. The secondary characters they meet on the train also had their own interesting stories, and add so much to the book! The worldbuilding is worth noting too, because it’s so original and fun, and I loved the kind of superhero vibe to it as well. Basically, if you want to read something that’s like Circus Mirandus mixed with Marvel, this book’s got your back!

Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom by Sangu Mandanna

This came very highly recommended by my friend Izzy, so I was excited to finally be reading it, and as I expected, I really enjoyed it. It follows a girl named Kiki, who is very anxious (and also has some OCD traits, in my opinion, as someone who struggles with them), and she takes solace in her sketchbook, until she finds out that a malevolent figure from Hindu mythology has brought her imaginary world to life and is causing huge issues both there and in attempting to break into the human world. She then has to venture into the world and defeat Mahishasura with the help of a gang of child rebels she has invented, and also a lion named Simha. Simha is the **best**, and I loved the camaraderie and found family vibe of the Crows, led by a girl named Ashwini. My favourite was probably Pip, but I was also a huge fan of Jojo and of course, it’s wonderful to see how they make Kiki’s life better from knowing them. As ever with this sort of book, I love learning more about the myths and folklore of other cultures, and this was no exception; I’ve read about Hindu myths before so there was a good balance of things I knew and new information. There was also a twist towards the end that I genuinely didn’t see coming, which I always love because I read a LOT and as such am usually pretty good at guessing, and I’m really interested to see what happens in the next book, particularly with regards to Kiki maybe having some treatment for her mental health issues.

The Many-Half Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester by Maya MacGregor (recieved a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

(CW: transphobia, assault, detailed discussion of trauma, including self harm)

This is the story of an autistic, nonbinary teen named Sam, who moves to a new town after a horrifying hate crime attack in their hometown, and when they get there, they discover that they are sleeping in the bedroom of a boy who was seemingly murdered 30 years ago, and with the help of theiir new friends from their new school’s LGBTQ society, set out to investigate. While I liked Sam, and their friends Shep (well, she’s maybe more than a friend 👀) and Sky and Ronnie very much, and was so pleased to see some supportive staff at their school such as Mr Quach, my favourite was undoubtedly Sam’s super supportive, ridiculously cool and unbelievably kind dad Junius, a Black aroace man who adopted Sam when they were seven and has had their back in every way possible since. The mystery was incredibly intriguing, and I also liked the indepth exploration of Sam’s identity and their trauma. Overall, this was an interesting read, and definitely one I can see a lot of people enjoying.

Thank you so much for reading! Have you read any of these books, or are they on your TBR? Can you think of anything you’ve enjoyed recently with a character’s name in the title? I’d love to chat in the comments!

Amy xx

Reviews: Summer Lovin’

Hello everybody! Today, I have kind of a random mishmash of things I’ve read in the last couple of months that I wanted to review now, and then I have some slightly more themed ones coming up in the next wee while. I’m trying not to be super rigid with my reading right now so I can mood read, so review posts going forward will probably have less clear themes, which I hope people don’t mind too much. Anyway, onto the post!

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Reviews: Happy Pride!

Hello everybody! Today, I’m going to be reviewing some of the wonderful books with LGBTQ+ rep that I’ve read so far this month, in honour of it being pride and as part of my pal Ross’s amazing readathon. Onto the post!

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Reviews: Mood Ring May Reading

Hello everybody! Today, I have another review post for you, which doesn’t really have a theme because I saw someone coin the phrase mood reading May and I decided to jump on the bandwagon. There’s a fair bit of variety here so hopefully something for just about everyone! Onto the post!

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Reviews: Pink to Make the Books Wink

Hello everybody! Today, I finally have a new review post for you on this fine bank holiday Monday, and it’s all books with pink on the covers (some of them are not predominantly pink, please do not @ me) because I got it into my head I wanted to do that and so I did. Onto the post!

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Reviews: Debut Delights

Hello everybody! I’m back with another review post, which is again a shorter one because uni has been very intense lately and my reading has suffered a bit for that.

I’m hoping I’ll be back to almost a book day in April when it’s done because I really miss it, so basically there are other debuts that would’ve been here if my reading speed was standard and they will absolutely be popping up elsewhere, hopefully very soon. Anyway, onto the post!

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Reviews: Reading with the Waterbirds

Hello everybody! Today, I have another review post for you, and this time all the books are connected to birds in some way. I’ve been a bit slower with my reading than usual recently because I’ve had loads on at uni and I’ve not been making enough time for it as I should, but I’m hoping to get my mojo back in March so these posts can be longer again. And they’ve not permanently moved from Saturdays in case anyone is wondering, it’s just been a total coincidence the last two times! Anyway, onto the books!

(Also for anyone wondering, the title makes v little sense, you’re right, cause not all of these books are about waterbirds. It’s a play on a song by one of my fave bands. Nearly all of these are named after songs!)

A Rush of Wings by Laura E. Weymouth

This is Laura E Weymouth’s 3rd book, and I’ve got to say it felt really good getting to read something new from her after 2 years having passed since A Treason of Thorns was released. It follows the story of a girl named Rowenna who lives in a historic version of the Scottish Highlands, and what happens when her mother dies, an evil impostor takes her place within the family, and curses Rowenna, her brothers and a boy named Gawen that she rescued from a shipwreck. Laura’s writing is so beautiful and lyrical and it really brings her setting to life, both in terms of time and place. I loved Rowenna, our beloved dark-hearted girl, who very much wants to do the right thing but is very misunderstood by most of the people around her. Gawen is a wonderful love interest with his own backstory and issues to work through, and I loved Rowenna’s complex but ultimately close bond with her brothers. My favourite character was undoubtedly Elspeth because I found her story so heartbreaking, and I hated Torr Pendragon for the cruelty he inflicted on his people. This is a gorgeous, lyrical read and I very much look forward to reading Laura’s next book A Conjuring Light.

The Bird Singers by Eve Wersocki Morris

This is a debut novel from a publicist at Simon and Schuster based on Polish mythology, which follows two sisters named Layah and Izzie as they go on a trip to the Lake District and end up involved in a mythical mystery after deeply strange things start happening to them there. I loved th mystery at the heart of this and how dark the fantasy element of the book made this, and I found it so interesting to discover more about Poland’s mythology as I don’t remember ever having read a book about it before. Layah is a great protagonist, she’s so headstrong and brave and determined, and I loved how much of a bookworm Izzie was and the way she balanced Layah out really well in terms of personality. The setting is so well described and depicted, and as I’ve already sort of said, I loved the fantasy element, especially as it blends so well with the family mystery element. Given the tantalising hint at there being something more going on in the epilogue with a certain Teddington Speckleback, I’m really looking forward to reading the second book, which I don’t think I’ve seen an official announcement for anywhere but I definitely need in my life.

The Raven Riddle by Vashti Hardy and illustrated by Natalie Smillie

This is the third book in a really cute middle grade series from Barrington Stoke, which follows wardens named Grace and Tom, who live in a world where wardens try and prevent crime before it happens due to technology developed by an ancestor of Grace’s. This one sees them try and solve the issue of some rather violent ravens that are plaguing a small town for some reason, and it was great to see Grace and newbie Tom (who was introduced in the Puffin Portal) strike out on their first solo mission. They handled the situation like absolute pros for the most part and it was great to see how the trip brought them closer together. Clockwork raven Watson remains my absolute favourite character though, I had a lot of chuckles over things he said and did during this and it’s sweet how much he wants to protect Grace! There are also some really lovely messages about kindness and not judging people based on rumours in here that I really appreciated. I had somehow got it into my head this was the last book but that definitely isn’t the case, so I’m very much looking forward to my next visit to this world when book four comes out.

A Crown of Talons by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr

This is the follow-up to A Throne of Swans, which I really enjoyed the last time I did a review post about birds, so this was always a shoo in for another post of this ilk. It follows Aderyn as she attempts to adapt to her new role as queen, and her role as wife to her cousin due to the rules of the kingdom forcing them to marry, meaning she can’t be with her true love Lucien. I was a little bit worried I’d get confused as the magic system is pretty intricate but I adjusted to being back in this world very quickly and I love all the political intrigue and backstabbing and court drama that’s going on throughout it. The fantasy world of nobles being able to shape shift into different birds is so incredibly cool, and I love that all of the characters remained who they are at their core, but also had a lot of character development. Also, a lot of the relationships are very complex and well written; I absolutely ship Aderyn and Lucien, but I also loved her friendships with Aron and Letya. I think the ending of this wraps things up so well and lots of it made me really happy, these characters deserved their happy ending! If you’re a fan of the State of Sorrow books (or political fantasy with a smidge of romance in general!), this is the duology for you. I’m so excited for the Corr sisters’ new series to start later this year, because they really are such brilliant writers and craft incredible worlds and characters with their words, and I think their take on Ancient Greece will be something very special.

Sparrow Rising by Jessica Khoury

I’ve been wanting to read this author’s two currently released middle grade books since last summer, and I’m so happy I’ve finally got to one of them! It follows a girl named Ellidee Meadows, who lives in a world where people have wings and are members of a certain bird clan, so in Ellie’s case she is a Sparrow. She is desperate to become a Goldwing (the knights who protect her kingdom), but no one from a clan with as low a status as hers has ever succeeded before, so she is very much an underdog. After her trial goes badly wrong, she ends up running away and joining a group of thieves, and the book follows their journey to getting to the wildcard trials where Ellie wants to compete for one last chance to achieve her dreams. Like I said, Ellie is an absolute underdog and I was just so behind her from the minute I met her, and our other main POV character Nox is also someone i was rooting for the entire book, even though he is a little bit prickly until you get to know him better. We also have a great supporting cast in Gussie and Twig and other people who aren’t quite so lovable (I hate Zain so much, just for example!!). The worldbuilding is fascinating and there is so much I want to learn about the different castes. It also provides a great metaphor for racism and classism, through different clans being treated unfairly for things like having two different coloured wings and Ellie’s issues with not wanting the career she is supposed to, Not only am I very excited for the next book in this series, I’m also even more excited than I already was to discover the world of Mystwick School for Musiccraft (which I’m hoping to read in April).

Thank you so much for reading! Have you read any bird themed books lately? Do you have any thoughts on the ones I’ve included here? I’d love to chat with you in the comments!!

Amy xx

Reviews: What’s in a Name?

Hello everybody! Today, I have my newest batch of reviews for you, which all have the names of a character in the title this time. There was originally going to be at least nine books, but one of the things I started was so not to my taste that I had to make it my first DNF of the year. Sad times 😭. Anyway, onto the post!

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Festive Anthology Review: the Very Merry Murder Club

Hello everybody! Today’s blogmas post is my review of the Very Merry Murder Club anthology, which I’ve been very excited about reading and thoroughly enjoyed diving into under my cosiest blanket. I’ve put little star emojis beside all the ones I would rate five stars. Onto the post!

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