Title in white on rusting gears
Genre: Sci-fi
Age Range: YA

These novellas were created for Barrington Stoke, the UK’s specialist for dyslexia-friendly and reluctant reader stories. The formatting is very different to a typical book (different, larger font, with more space between words and lines.) The writing is also deliberately designed to be accessible, so there are fewer longer, more technical words used.


Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: book 1
Book cover for THE STARLIGHT WATCHMAKER: paper cut out gears with stars shining through

This is a really cute story in a wonderfully built world. The world is amazing, popping with colour and bizarre occurrences the characters just shrug off as normal. A person who will grow into a planet. A butterfly riding a bicycle. It’s really fun, but explained so well that it feels perfectly ordinary.

The more I reflect on the story, trying to write this review, the more I realise that it contains a really important message about jumping to conclusions about people and their goals/actions. I didn’t really think about it at first, because it’s very carefully woven in. Even the plot twist (which probably should make the message clear to any not as oblivious as I) didn’t make me realise what I was being told.

This was the first Barrington Stoke book I’d ever deliberately read (I think I unknowingly read a few years back at the start of secondary school.) It was a little bit odd getting used to the style of it, as I’m so used to books that aren’t designed to help people who struggle with reading.

Add it to your Goodreads shelves here.


Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: book 2
Book cover for THE DEEP-SEA DUKE: title surrounded by seaweed

Lauren James has clearly had so much fun creating the world of Hydrox and Ada in particular (she’s an alien race that grows into a planet eventually).

There are some really fun linguistic world building (particularly in a book that’s only 17k long so has to be really sparse). For example, it’s “starlight” not “sunlight”, as the stars the planets orbit aren’t called “the Sun”! It’s small details like this that really show how much care was put into creating this book.

By a funny coincidence, I read this just after another climate-change book (THE FOREVER SEA). THE DEEP-SEA DUKE is a lot more obvious about the theme and message, which isn’t my favourite style. However, given the word count restrictions on a book like this, then it makes sense to be more obvious.

To me, the romance came out of nowhere. It was sweet when it happened, but I’d read Hugo’s preceding thoughts as ones of friendship worries (given there didn’t feel like much from Dorian’s side). Thus, I was very surprised when Dorian proposed and kissed him. My friend says the romance was very much set up throughout and that it’s just my un-romantically inclined brain not noticing, so take of that what you will!

Add to your Goodreads shelves here.

Read my reviews of other books by Lauren James:


Gottie Writes:

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