Big Kids Book Club – Monthly Wrap up: April

Hey hey hey!

It’s a new month and April flew by, and all of us at the Big Kids HQ are super busy with life, the universe, and everything.

Therefore, instead of a normal monthly chat up we’re having a quick breakdown of all the stuff we’ve been reading and enjoying this month.

Marcus

This month I’ve been reading a lot for the podcast, and you can find out my thoughts and feeling about them in each of our episode (hint hint go listen now!) But outside of the fantastic books in these episodes, I also read the following (all ratings are out of 5 ⭐stars):

The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer – 4⭐

Alex and Conner Bailey’s world is about to change.

When the twins’ grandmother gives them a treasured fairy-tale book, they have no idea they’re about to enter a land beyond all imagining: the Land of Stories, where fairy tales are real.

But as Alex and Conner soon discover, the stories they know so well haven’t ended in this magical land – Goldilocks is now a wanted fugitive, Red Riding Hood has her own kingdom, and Queen Cinderella is about to become a mother!

The twins know they must get back home somehow. But with the legendary Evil Queen hot on their trail, will they ever find the way?

Really enjoyed this book as it narrated by Chris Colfer as well. Lots of fun reimaging of the classic fable characters and the land of stories. A little generic with the classic portal fantasy format but all the characters and world feel so full of life and imagination.”

Crater Lake by Jennifer Killick – 4.5 ⭐

Who is the mysterious bloodstained man who stops their coach?

Why is no one around when Lance and the rest of Year Six arrive at the brand new Crater Lake activity centre?

But this is just the beginning of the school trip from hell; a fight for survival that sees five pupils band together to save their classmates from an alien fate far worse than death.

But whatever happens, they must Never. Ever. Fall asleep!

A really great spin on the classic lakefront horror, but with a middle grade narrative. Spooky and weird, but highly enjoyable with a fun host of characters.

Emma

This month Emma’s been very busy with exams for her Master’s degree, but that didn’t stop her reading some amazing books for her interviews which are amazing to listen too! Check them out now (all ratings are out of 5 ⭐stars):

Blood to Poison by Mary Watson – 5⭐

Seventeen-year-old Savannah is cursed. It’s a sinister family heirloom; passed down through the bloodline for hundreds of years, with one woman in every generation destined to die young. The family call them Hella’s girls, named for their ancestor Hella; the enslaved woman with whom it all began.

Hella’s girls are always angry, especially in the months before they die. The anger is bursting from Savannah – at the men who cat-call her in the street, at her mother’s disingenuous fiance, even at her own loving family.

Each fit of rage is bringing her closer to the edge and now Savannah has to act to save herself. Or die trying. Because the key to survival lies in the underbelly of Cape Town, where the sinister veilwitches are waiting for just such a girl.

“Intriguing right from the start, loved how vibrant the world was. Great writing.”

Such a Good Liar by Sue Wallman – 4⭐

She’s faking her way into the most exclusive social circles for revenge. But how long can her lies hold up?

Seventeen-year-old Lydia Cornwallis has arrived on a remote island populated only by wealthy families and their staff. She quickly finds acceptance, even adoration, from the close-knit families that rule the island. But a storm is coming, and all routes to the mainland are cut off. But thank goodness the Harrington sisters made it in time, because Lydia simply can’t wait to meet them. That’s because Lydia’s not really Lydia Cornwallis. And the Harringtons have hell to pay for what they’ve done.

Lydia will need to draw on epic nerve, quicksilver adaptability and sly cunning in maintaining her cover and exacting murderous revenge. And when she meets someone new on the island and starts to develop real feelings, can that connection survive when nothing else is real?

This fraudster story will keep readers on edge, turning the pages to find out how long Lydia can keep this brazen scheme up. 

“Took me a while to get into it, but loved the way it fleshed out in the end. The pace build-up was fab.”

Rab

This month Rab has been mworking on the final edits for his upcoming Middle Grade debut, The Late Crew, but he’s still finding time to enjoying some great books:

Dream Country by Ashaye Brown – TBC⭐

A sibling rivalry to fuel your worst nightmares. 

The dysfunctional triplet gods of Sleep, Dreams and Nightmares are kept separate by the deadly Gates of Horn and Ivory. 

Only one fact keeps them tightly bound: each of them is a suspect in their mother’s murder. 

Their knife-edge feud worsens when a mortal enters the world with astounding abilities that threaten to change the game for them all.

“Beautiful and imaginative YA, inspired by heaps of mythology. It’s about the gods of sleep, dreams, and nightmares, and their sibling rivalry. Fans of Neil Gaiman would love it.”

Laura

Laura, host of the Library Laura podcast, and good friend of the BKBC, has been reading while juggling the busy life of a new parent, below is the book she’s finished in April:

School For Whatnots by Margaret Peterson Haddix – TBC⭐

No matter what anyone tells you, I’m real.

That’s what the note says that Max finds under his keyboard.

He knows that his best friend, Josie, wrote it. He’d know her handwriting anywhere. But why she wrote it—and what it means—remains a mystery.

Ever since they met in kindergarten, Max and Josie have been inseparable. Until the summer after fifth grade, when Josie disappears, leaving only a note, and whispering something about “whatnot rules.”

But why would Max ever think that Josie wasn’t real? And what are whatnots?

As Max sets to uncover what happened to Josie—and what she is or isn’t—little does he know that she’s fighting to find him again, too. But there are forces trying to keep Max and Josie from ever seeing each other again. Because Josie wasn’t supposed to be real.

This middle grade thriller from Margaret Peterson Haddix delves into the power of privilege, the importance of true friendship, and the question of humanity and identity. Because when anyone could be a whatnot, what makes a person a real friend—or real at all?

“It was an interesting look at friendship, privilege, and the role of AI, as well as being surprising and adventurous.”

That’s all for this month. We’ll hopefully be back in May with a wrap up and a familiar book club catch up.

Until then, take care, stay safe, but most importantly… keep on reading 😃

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