ARC Review: Skandar the Unicorn Thief by A.F. Steadman

Goodreads | Waterstones

Skandar Smith has always yearned to leave the Mainland and escape to the secretive Island, where wild unicorns roam free. He’s spent years studying for his Hatchery exam, the annual test that selects a handful of Mainlander thirteen-year-olds to train to become unicorn riders. But on the day of Skandar’s exam, things go horribly wrong, and his hopes are shattered…until a mysterious figure knocks on his door at midnight, bearing a message: the Island is in peril and Skandar must answer its call.
Skandar is thrust into a world of epic sky battles, dangerous clashes with wild unicorns, and rumors of a shadowy villain amassing a unicorn army. And the closer Skandar grows to his newfound friends and community of riders, the harder it becomes to keep his secrets—especially when he discovers their lives may all be in graver danger than he ever imagined.

Thank you to the publishers, Simon and Schuster, for sending me an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is one I’ve been looking forward to for a while, and I was so excited when I received an advanced copy of it last year. The world of middle grade fantasy is rapidly expanding and seeing these new and exciting stories is so heartwarming. Giving out chapter samplers for this book at work has generated a lot of excitement, and I’ve heard a few parents mention how much their child is looking forward to the release after reading the first chapter – now I can see why!

Skandar and the Unicorn Thief is jam-packed with magic, excitement, adventure and danger. It will help to generate a whole new generation of readers, and hooked me from the first page. Skandar has wanted to travel off the mainland to become a unicorn trainer for his whole life, but when he finally gets the chance, it doesn’t happen quite in the way he expected.

There’s an edginess, an element of danger, that I loved about this book and I can see it appealing so much to younger readers. It feels almost forbidden with the edge of darkness but was still crammed full with adventure and entertainment.

My only small complaint is it felt a little long and the characters felt a bit underdeveloped for the length of the book, but I still enjoyed the read. I can definitely see this one being a big middle grade release of the year and I think a lot of younger readers are going to love it!

★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

Shop | Booktube | Goodreads | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter | Facebook

www.etsy.com/uk/shop/thebooksareverywhere

Review: Amari and the Night Brothers (#1) by B.B. Alston

53240817

Goodreads | Waterstones

Amari Peters knows three things.
Her big brother Quinton has gone missing.
No one will talk about it.
His mysterious job holds the secret . . .
So when Amari gets an invitation to the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, she’s certain this is her chance to find Quinton. But first she has to get her head around the new world of the Bureau, where mermaids, aliens and magicians are real, and her roommate is a weredragon.
Amari must compete against kids who’ve known about the supernatural world their whole lives, and when each trainee is awarded a special supernatural talent, Amari is given an illegal talent – one that the Bureau views as dangerous.
With an evil magician threatening the whole supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she is the enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t pass the three tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton . . .

Thank you to Egmont books for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This was such a fantastic middle grade book filled with magic and wonder. It follows Amari Peters, who is a young Black girl with a missing older brother. She finds out early in the story that her brother belonged to a top-secret magical organisation, and that she has a chance to attend the same magic school her older brother did.

I love how this book tackles subjects such as race and class from the first chapter, and also introduces the topics in a way very accessible to young readers. I feel like so many people will relate to Amari as a main character and it’s so lovely to see more diverse main characters. Amari faces all kinds of oppression throughout this book and is still such a brave, confident and strong female protagonist – we need more people like her in middle grade!

You’re not going to change the world 

This is the kind of middle grade that everyone will find enjoyment in. I found it so easy to read and loved the action, and I feel like children will find it so fun and entertaining. Despite being quite a long middle grade at almost 400 pages, this doesn’t feel like a long book at all as it’s a very quick one to get through with constant action and change in pace. There are so many different ways this story could go, and I’m excited to see where this series will head.

I love how this book tackles some harder topics without feeling like it is trying to combat them. These topics were woven in very naturally and will be brilliant for younger readers. This book was also so jam packed with magic and uses some great fantasy tropes we know really well to create a fresh and interesting story.

unless you hang with people who want to change the world too.

Overall, I can’t wait to see where this series goes and I loved the introduction to Amari – I think she’s going to be such an important protagonist but also has such an entertaining story!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

Shop | Booktube | Goodreads | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter | Facebook

www.etsy.com/uk/shop/thebooksareverywhere

ARC Review: Me, My Dad and the End of the Rainbow by Benjamin Dean

55922563. sy475

Goodreads | Waterstones

My name’s Archie Albright, and I know two things for certain:
1. My mum and dad kind of hate each other, and they’re not doing a great job of pretending that they don’t anymore. 
2. They’re both keeping a secret from me, but I can’t figure out what.
Things aren’t going great for Archie Albright. His dad’s acting weird, his mum too, and he all he wants is for everything to go back to normal, to three months before when his parents were happy and still lived together. When Archie sees a colourful, crumpled flyer fall out of Dad’s pocket, he thinks he may have found the answer. Only problem? The answer might just lie at the end of the rainbow, an adventure away. 
Together with his best friends, Bell and Seb, Archie sets off on a heartwarming and unforgettable journey to try and fix his family, even if he has to break a few rules to do it…

Thank you to Simon & Shuster and Waterstones for a copy of this book in exchange for honest review.

Happy book birthday to this beauty, which is released today!

I’ve been so excited to read this book after seeing the beautiful ARC copies going around. I was lucky enough to be part of a Zoom Q&A through work with the author, who spoke so beautifully about this book and made me so excited to read it. I picked it up almost immediately and couldn’t put it down, reading it in around 24 hours.

This book was so much fun and so beautiful. It is the epitome of a modern and diverse adventure story, and is centered around London Pride. It really transported me back to the magic of the only Pride event I have attended, which happened to be Dublin! I am so happy to be safe in the knowledge this will help so many young people learn about LGBTQIA+ relationships and diversity. Archie, the main character, is so charming and lovable, and the tone of this book draws you in immediately. I love how Archie spoke to the reader directly, it made me feel very involved in the story.

I love how Archie and his two best friends, Bell and Seb, are discovering the world of Pride, and I imagine it will teach so much to young readers who are also navigating this world for the first time. It has such a diverse cast of characters, as two of Archie’s older friends are gay, and they meet all kinds of beautiful people at Pride, including trans people, non-binary people and drag queens who help them along the way. The conversations the trio have with these people are so heart warming and accessible to the reader. Some of the other conversations that Archie has with those closer around him were also beautifully written and will stick in my head for a while to come.

This was my first middle grade book of the year, and I’m so glad it happened to be this one. Reading this gives me so much hope and excitement for the way literature is changing for children, and becoming so much more diverse. This was beautiful, emotional and full of love, and I couldn’t recommend it more.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

Shop | Goodreads | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter | Facebook |

www.etsy.com/uk/shop/thebooksareverywhere