BLOG TOUR: In The Shadow Of Heroes

Today I have the utter joy of hosting author Nick Bowling who is sharing his thoughts on some Unheroic Greek heroes. We all know I love a bit of mythology (if you didn’t know that then WHERE HAVE YOU been?!) so this post is PERFECT in my life!

Nick’s new book In The Shadow of Heroes is out now and I can’t wait. It’s been snatched up by one of the kids in my class… so I guess I need to wait my turn!

In the Shadow of Heroes lowres

“Fourteen-year-old Cadmus has been scholar Tullus’s slave since he was a baby – his master is the only family he knows.

But when Tullus disappears and a taciturn slave called Tog – formerly a British princess – arrives with a secret message, Cadmus’s life is turned upside down. The pair follow a trail that leads to Emperor Nero himself, and his crazed determination to possess the Golden Fleece of Greek mythology. This madcap quest will push Cadmus to the edge of the Roman Empire – and reveal unexpected truths about his past…”

Unheroic Greek heroes

The Greeks thought differently about what a hero was. Google the word “hero” today and you get the following result: “A person who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.”  Most people would agree with this as a definition. But in an Ancient Greek dictionary the word heros brings up three fairly vague ideas: 1) the Greeks before Troy, all free men of the Heroic age; 2) men born from a god and a mortal; 3) inferior local deities, patrons of tribes, cities, guilds, founders of cities etc. etc.

The important difference is that the heroes of Greece usually were people who demonstrated “courage” and performed “outstanding achievements”, but “noble qualities” were often sorely lacking. Nowadays, we assume that a hero has some kind of moral rectitude, but for the Greeks and Romans there were more shades of grey. Their heroes were messy, complex, conflicted, often just plain awful people. This is what makes them interesting; it’s also what makes them function as mirrors to our own lives.

IN THE SHADOW OF HEROES takes this idea and asks the question: what is a hero? To get you thinking, here are five heroes you might have heard of, along with some of their less “outstanding achievements”:

  1. We’ve all heard of Hercules suffering nobly through his Twelve Labours, but less well known is the reason why he had to perform them: he killed his wife and all his children in a fit of madness. The rest of Hercules’ life is similarly chequered with random acts of extreme violence. He killed his music teacher for correcting his mistakes, he killed King Eurytus and his sons when he was denied the hand of his daughter in marriage, he killed Sileus for forcing him to tend his vineyards. All of which was, sadly, left out of the Disney motion-picture.
  2. Heroic slayer of the Minotaur, but also heroic home-wrecker. He escaped from the Labyrinth with the help of Ariadne (King Minos’ daughter), who then eloped from Crete with him. Theseus then abandoned her on the island of Naxos, and upon returning to Athens forgot to change his black sail to a white sail, which would have signalled his success in defeating the Minotaur. His father Aegeus, assuming his son was dead, threw himself into the sea.
  3. After reclaiming the Golden Fleece from Colchis with the help of Medea (the King Aeetes’ daughter – there’s a pattern developing here…), Jason settled Corinth with her as his consort. He then got embarrassed by having a girlfriend who was foreign and, admittedly, a bit weird, and promptly dumped her to marry Creusa. This, despite the fact Medea helped him win the fleece in the first place, betrayed her family and travelled halfway around the world to be with him. This pushed Medea to perform one of the all-time great acts of female vengeance (no spoilers).
  4. Perhaps better known for his bad behaviour, but it still bears repeating. Achilles had the mother of all tantrums because Agamemnon took a slave girl from him. He refused to fight and said he won’t return until Agamemnon say sorry. Hundreds of his own men died as a result.
  5. Even the most unwarlike heroes don’t get clean consciences. Daedalus was a master craftsman, inventor and architect, who built the Minotaur’s labyrinth. While you might pity him for the death of his son Icarus (of melting wings fame), you’ll probably feel less sympathetic when you hear he killed his own nephew – threw him off the top of the Acropolis – because he came up with the idea for the handsaw before Daedalus did.

IN THE SHADOW OF HEROES by Nicholas Bowling out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House)

Find out more at www.chickenhousebooks.com

Follow Nicholas Bowling on twitter @thenickbowling

Why don’t you check out the rest of the blog tour?

In the Shadow of Heroes blog tour banner

Massive thank you to Chicken House and to Nick for his blog post! What a great start to a Wednesday! 

S x

May bujo

HELLO THERE. 

How are we all doing today? I’m here to share with you my May bullet journal. I apologise for it taking so long to get this posted… today we shall fix that! 

So I asked the people of Twitter what they wanted my bullet journal colour to be and with a resounding 48% of the vote, orange won!

twitter bujo colour

So May was to be the month of ORANGE bullet journal colouring! 

img_5736

My monthly page is a lovely sunshine. Yknow summer and all that! 

Then we have a quote page and the monthly overview page. I love this quote because I think it’s something we should all take into consideration. I’m really loving using the Zebra midliners to “highlight” things too. I have 8 different colours and they make me so happy. The monthly overview page is slowly becoming more and more useful, but as you can see it’s still quite plain… I need to have a play around with it to make sure that it’s the best it can be!

Next up is my bookish double spread: book post and books read. This is a spread that I’m constantly playing with. I am getting much better at tracking my book post (left page). I have a key to tell me what I’ve acknowledged (tweeted/grammed), read and blogged. I find it really helpful. When I’d taken these pictures, I’d read 3 books… since then I’ve added 2 more books. The stars system is ultimately flawed, but for my own personal consumption it’s helpful. 

Over the page we have my mood tracker and another quote page. I saw this orange idea while I was browsing the interwebs and I decided I needed it. It’s not perfect but I think it’s well cute. I’ve stripped down the amount of moods I’m tracking this month to just 4. I really can’t get the grasp on which moods I need to track (ha!), but these 4 are working this month. On the other page (right), I’ve actually started to fill it in with things that I’d do (or at least try) if I wasn’t so afraid. It’s quite eyeopening to be honest and I would encourage everyone to do it.

As May is the month of Mental Health Awareness Week, I changed this page (left) to be a MH page. I’ve been filling it all month with things that make me smile/things to do when I’m feeling a bit down. It’s quite lovely to see the sheer range of things in my life that make me smile/feel better when I’m feeling a bit fragile. The other side (right) is my trusty gratitude page, filled with all of the things I’m grateful for. 

Last up is my weekly spreads. Again, I’ve changed these from last month and I’m already loving it a lot more. It’s very simple/minimalist, but it functions perfectly as I need it to. There’s space for me to see what I’m up to this week (on the left) and then my inevitable to do lists (right). According to these pictures, my to do lists weren’t very long… but they most definitely are MUCH longer than this! 

And that’s it! That’s my May bujo. I hope you enjoyed this! If you have any questions or comments, let me know. I’d love to know what you think. Send me links to your bujo posts because I’m nebby and want to see them!

S x 

 

S4S – 2018 Rereads

HOLA AMIGOS

It is me again, your #SixforSunday fairy coming to bring you a new week of talking about your TBR. This week’s prompt is one which will ADD to your TBR, obviously. 

This week we’re talking 

2018 Books To Reread

Now… I’m sure you all know this about me already, but I’m not a big rereader… but there’s ALWAYS books that I’m like, “God, I wish I could rediscover this world/characters/story again” and here I’m sharing 6 with y’all!

2018 reread

State of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury
Now that I know what happens in Song of Sorrow, I want to sit and greedily reread both of them because Mel is QUEEN and this duology is just exceptional.

The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven
Again, like State of Sorrow, I’ve read the sequel to Exact Opposite, so I want the delight of reading them both together. But also, Izzy is just HILARIOUS. I remember PROPER cackling at TEOOO and thinking, “Yes, this is a character I want around me forever”.

Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton
MAN. This was the end of the Rebel of the Sands trilogy and it was PERFECT. I miss Jin so very much. I want to reread it because Jin and Amani are some of my faves.

Goodbye Perfect by Sara Barnard
Sara writes the most amazing stories and everyone should go out and buy all of them. I wanna reread this one because I had SUCH feelings about it when I read it first time round that I’d be SO interested in seeing if my feelings were still the same.

Floored by the Floored Seven
I don’t need to explain why I want to reread this surely. 7 of the best UKYA voices together in one book? PLUS I know who is who now… and wanna know if that changes what I thought of it!

Scythe by Neal Shusterman
This is one of those books that I would LOVE to forget and experience again for the first time again. I remember being BLOWN AWAY by this book when I read it and I want that back. PLUS the 3rd book is out this year… perfect time to reread book 1 and 2 (although 2 was a bit bonkers imo)

And there we go! 6 of the books I read that I want to reread most! 

Don’t forget to share yours using #SixforSunday! See you all next week!

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Bethany Rutter

No Big Deal: a book that means a very big deal!

21eba24b-9c6a-4906-86d0-bf42bfc98cae(gorgeous proof copy sent to me from the publishers… see final cover further down)

“Meet Emily Daly, a stylish, cute, intelligent and hilarious seventeen-year-old about to start her last year at school. Emily is also fat. She likes herself and her body. When she meets Joe at a house party, he instantly becomes The Crush of Her Life. Everything changes. At first he seems perfect. But as they spend more time together, doubts start to creep in.

With her mum trying new fad diets every week, and increasing pressure to change, Emily faces a constant battle to stay strong, be her true self and not change for anyone.”

No Big Deal tells the story of Emily (gorgeous, brilliant, wonderful), a teenager who is going through it all. She’s a girl who the world judges based on one thing: her weight. Emily doesn’t see her weight as a problem, but the rest of the world does. The rest of the world expects her to change because of who she is. Emily has this brilliantly unfaltering confidence in herself, but as you go through the book, as friendships fall apart, as boys come into the picture, as society wears her down, this unrelenting confidence risks changing forever.

I loved this book. Like hands down loved it.

Emily is an absolutely astounding MC. She’s stylish, she’s hilarious. Her perspective is absolutely mint. I laughed A LOT at some of the things she gets into because I’ve been there. Getting stuck in a dress in Topshop? God, I know that feeling so much. Doubted your worthiness because of your weight? Yep. Been there. I loved that she bossed life and was stylish and cool and brilliant. Her weight wasn’t the thing that defined her. She showed that it doesn’t need to. She had interests. She was a ROUNDED character. 

For so long, the fat character was the funny friend, or the one who never got the boy, but in this book, that’s not the case. This book shows that it doesn’t matter what size you are, you matter and that your story isn’t dependent on your weight. Your story is important: even if society doesn’t think so.

I’ve struggled to write this review, not because I didn’t love this book (because trust me, I loved this book an awful lot), but because every time I come to write this review it turns into something about my life… and y’all don’t need that.

This book is brilliant. It’s funny, it made me cry, it made me think, it made me want to shout: so many emotions. It’s interesting. It has a refreshing voice. It’s written in a brilliantly readable way. I’d love to think that Bethany Rutter will be around for MANY MANY BOOKS introducing us to a whole range of characters who are as badass, brilliant and body positive as Emily. This book, its character, its story is going to hit a chord with so many people. Whether you’re the fat friend or not, it’s going to matter. It’s so much more than a story about a fat girl: it’s a story about the importance of loving yourself and how much of a BLOODY HARDSHIP that can be at times. 

I think this book hit a note with me because I WAS Emily. I am Emily now. I’m on that journey of self acceptance, of loving myself for whoever and whatever I am that day. I’ve been there. I’ve doubted every single thing in my life because of the status of my weight. It’s just a thing.

PLUS. Look at this cover man. I proper love it. I can’t wait to have a finished copy in my midst. It’s going to have pride of place on my “favourites shelf”.

No Big Deal

My Goodreads review:

If I could swear, I would. This book is exceptional. I am/was Emily and there’s nothing more important that seeing yourself in a book. I hope every young girl gets a chance to read it. Loving yourself is SO IMPORTANT. This book made me laugh, cry and want to shout. Just bloody marvellous.

And because I loved it so much, I made a mood board. To me, this moodboard represents so much of what the book talks about. Style, fierce, brilliant women, loving yourself, owning life.

NBD mood board

Thank you so so much to Bethany and the brilliant humans of Macmillan Books/MyKindaBook for getting me a proof copy. I GENUINELY think this book is going to hit a chord with so many people.

Have you read No Big Deal?
Can you name another book that has a fully-realised fat MC?
Who is your favourite body positive person?

Talk to me! 

S x 

Be kind to yourself: you’re doing a great job

Hi there friends!

I’m not really sure where this post will end up going, so please bear with me. May is #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth and I think it’s important to put the spotlight on MH. It’s not a taboo subject. It’s not something that should be silenced. It’s something that should be talked about. We all endure and cope differently and each and every experience is valid. The more we talk about this, the better it will be for everyone.

Every week this month I’m going to post another little mental health type post. You don’t have to read it if that’s not your thing, but if it is I’d love to know your thoughts on whatever it is I’ve posted about. The posts each week may be what I do when I’m feeling like I’m spiralling, some books I might recommend or anything. I’d love your suggestions on what you’d like to see me talk about. 

One of the posts will be centred around body positivity – why it’s important, what it means to me, how we can be more body positive etc. This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 will take place from Monday 13 to Sunday 19 May 2019 and the theme for 2019 is Body Image – how we think and feel about our bodies.

Today I’m going to just spend a few words talking about perception. How we perceive others and how that can in fact be SO INCREDIBLY different to how we perceive ourselves.

Something I do is asking people to describe me, keeping their positive words (in my phone, my bujo, my brain) for when I don’t have any for myself. Now some people may think ‘well that’s awfully self-centred of you’, but sometimes you need someone else’s words of positivity when you have none yourself.

If you ask people to describe me in a word, you will more than likely get the following words:

  • funny
  • loud
  • bubbly
  • confident
  • friendly
  • affectionate

And I think those are words that I would use to describe me from time to time. There’s also a whole chunk of words, which aren’t as positive, that I would use to describe myself. I am, at times, my VERY OWN WORST CRITIC.

It’s SO EASY to fall into a hole of “you’ve not done this, you’ve not done that, that could have been better, you’re not this, you’re not that, that person is doing this and you’re not”. It’s so easy. It’s so easy to listen to the negative things that people have said about you, rather than the equal amount of positive things. It’s so easy to only think negative things about yourself, rather than tell yourself positive things.

I’m particularly bad at being kind to myself some times. And some times I need reminders that I am enough. I am kind. I am friendly. I am funny. I am good at my job. These reminders need to come from me. It’s lovely when other people tell me them, but it doesn’t make as big a difference until I start to believe them.

I’m a BIG LOVER of quotes (and mood boards as readers of this blog will attest to), so I’ve put together a moodboard of quotes that have hit a chord with me as I’ve been scrolling recently. We all deal with our mental health struggles in different ways, and each and every voice is valid – for me, these help to show me that I’m not alone. They help me to see that OTHER people have felt the way I feel. 

MH month

Thanks for stopping by today. If you ever need to talk, or just want a hug (virtual, or real), my inbox/twitter is always open.

Love, Steph xx

The 7 Deadly Sins Tag

Hello!

Today I’m taking on the Seven Deadly Sins tag! I don’t remember where I saw this first/who tagged me in it: it’s just been sat in my drafts folder for months! So if it was you, let me know and I’ll thank you! 

Without further ado… let’s see what my sins tell you about me!

Greed – what is the most expensive book you own? What is the least expensive book you own?

Most expensive is probably the hardback editions of the illustrated Harry Potter books. I didn’t buy them (one of my brilliant humans did) but they’re definitely the most expensive books.

The least expensive book? Oooh… I have bought many books from charity shops. In fact, I found a Zoella edition of Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Banard for 75p… so probably that?!

Gluttony – what book or books have you shamelessly devoured many times?

I am not an elusive rereader, however I’ve reread Matilda NUMEROUS times in my life. That and Charlotte’s Web are probably the books I’ve reread most in my life. I find myself rereading snippets of Reasons To Stay Alive on occasion too.

Sloth – what book or book series have you neglected out of sheer laziness?

Despite the fact that everyone still shouts at me, I’ve not got around to reading The Hate U Give yet. I know. I know. It will happen one day. I have a complex relationship with hyped books (deserved or not) so I don’t tend to read books that are EVERYWHERE.

Pride – what book or books do you bring up when you want to sound like an intellectual reader?

Lol… erm… HAHA. This is genuinely not one that I think I have an answer to. Maybe like 1984? Shakespeare? Circe? I don’t read things that I want to sound clever because I’ve read them. 

Lust – what attributes do you find most attractive in characters?

ARMS. (If you get this reference we are forever friends).
Hahaha, in all seriousness… humour, realness, honesty, flaws.

Envy – what book/s would you most like to receive as a gift?

Literally any books. I love presents and I love books, so they’re a match made in heaven. I don’t think theres any books out there at the minute that I DESPERATELY seek. I’m an adult who buys her own books haha! 

Wrath – what author do you have a love/hate relationship with?

Hmmm… get back to me on that one!

PHEW I made it. If you fancy doing this tag, go for it! I am so non-commital in some answers haha! 

S x 

BLOG TOUR: All We Could Have Been

Hello! Happy Bank holiday! 

Today I have the utter joy of being part of the blog tour for T.E.Carter’s newest book: All We Could Have Been. I’m very lucky to be able to share an extract with you! You’ll find chapter 4 below – there is a bit of swearing, but we’re all adults around here! 

Image result for all we could have been the carter

“Five years ago, Lexie walked home from school after her older brother failed to pick her up. When she entered her house, her brother sat calmly, waiting for the police to come arrest him for the heinous crime he had just committed.

Treated like a criminal herself, Lexie now moves from school to school hiding who she is—who she’s related to. She struggles with loving her brother, the PTSD she now suffers from, and wanting to just live a normal life. But how can she be normal when she can’t even figure out how to just live? 

This is a powerful look at the assumptions we make about people. Lexie’s emotional journey to separate her brother’s horrific act from herself is stunning and heartbreaking. This is Lexie’s story and journey—not her brother’s—and it will stay with you long after you turn the last page.”

Chapter 4

Tuesdays are blue, which means my color-coding is less obvious to everyone, because jeans are blue. I like Tuesdays; they’re when I feel most like a real person.  It turns out I have third lunch with Ryan, which makes this Tuesday even better. He invites me to sit with his friends, and one of the hardest parts of each year passes just like that. Only 161 days to go.

“I am so pissed at Hawthorne,” a girl says as soon as she sits down at the lunch table. Dark hair, somewhat tall and thin, but still mostly average. Yet there’s something about her that draws my attention. Something about how sure she is of herself.

Two girls follow right behind her, flanking her across the table from where Ryan and I are sitting, and they wait for her to speak. The first girl drops her tray and stabs a straw into her orange-juice carton.

“Seriously? Fucking Romeo and Juliet? How ridiculously cliché can we get?” she asks.
“Shakespeare’s good for your portfolio,” Ryan says.
She rolls her eyes. “I have plenty of Shakespeare in my portfolio. What do you even think I do all summer? God.”
“Rory, Lexi,” Ryan says, flicking a hand between me and the angry girl. “Lexi’s new.”
“Hi,” Rory says. She drinks her whole carton of orange juice and crushes it. “Ryan, seriously. This sucks so bad.”

One of the other girls opens a bag of chips, but she pauses, waiting to see what Rory does. The greasy spud hovers in front of her open mouth. It’s not exactly fear. I can’t explain it, but it’s the kind of suspended animation that occurs when you can’t decide if your friend’s freak-out warrants putting your own basic needs, like hunger, on hold.

“It’s not always like this,” the other girl—the one sitting on Rory’s right—tells me. She’s prettier than Rory, but for some reason she fades beside her. “Drama’s just a big deal.”
“Oh yeah. Got it,” I say, pretending to understand.
“Sorry,” Rory mutters as she spears a french fry on her plastic fork. Chip Girl waits, and as soon as Rory puts the fry in her mouth, Chip Girl breathes a sigh of relief. Her stomach growls as if to confirm that hunger is, in fact, a bigger situation at the moment. The chip makes its final parabolic arc down her gullet.

“Look at it this way: You’re probably guaranteed Juliet,” Ryan says.
Rory shakes her head. “It’s not that, and you know it. She’s always going on and on about how ‘theater makes a difference.’ ” I imagine that Rory’s mocking lilt is nothing like how this Hawthorne person actually sounds, but everyone in our vicinity seems to be on board with it. “This was an opportunity. You know she’s just capitulating.”
“You need to lay off the SAT vocab,” Chip Girl says.
Rory glares at her but doesn’t respond. Instead, she turns back to Ryan, addressing me as well by accident. “All summer I was emailing her and she was totally into The Laramie Project or The Vagina Monologues. Something edgy. Something with a purpose. She swore she’d choose something that would matter. And we’re doing fucking Romeo and Juliet?”
“I don’t know,” I offer, which I probably shouldn’t. It’s not my place, and I don’t know the context. My head voice booms its countdown again, but I shush it and barrel on with my opinion, reason be damned. “It could work. I mean, prejudice, hate, judgment, assumptions. West Side Story tackles all the same key themes—”
Rory cuts me off. “West Side Story?”
“Yeah, I mean . . .” But the glare from the three girls across from me tells me to just keep my mouth shut.

“We don’t do musicals,” Ryan explains. “It’s a whole different kind of theater.”
“Sorry,” I mumble, and go back to my lunch. The peas are fluorescent. I wonder if they’re irradiated. That could be good. Everyone complains some more about Hawthorne, who I deduce is the teacher-director of the drama club, but I stop listening. Lunch is only twenty-seven minutes. Twenty-seven minutes of 161 days and it’s all over. I can survive this. They’re so wrapped up in the play that they don’t care about me or what I’m carrying. They won’t even notice me as long as I don’t talk about musicals.

“Hey, I’ll walk you to class,” Ryan says when the first bell rings to wrap up lunch.

Massive thank you to Hashtag Reads for inviting me to be part of this blog tour! This extract is sure to get people talking. Go treat yourself to this book now! And while you’re at it: check out the rest of the blog tour!

Tour Graphic NEW

S x 

S4S – 2018 books still on my TBR

Hello!

Welcome to a new month here at #SixforSunday! This month of May we are taking on that ever growing thing in a book lovers life: the TBR pile. 

This month we are going to take on 2018 books we haven’t read, 2018 books we want to reread, 2019 books we want to read and 2019 books we’re excited for!

Today’s #SixforSunday prompt sees me telling you all:

2018 books I still haven’t read

2018 unread

I KNOW I KNOW.
If another person tells me I need to read THUG, I might cry.
It’s on my ‘2019 will read’ list.
Don’t worry. 

All of these books have not been read yet for various reasons, but they will be in 2019. I can’t be the ONLY person who puts off reading books for various reasons! 

OOOH. Here’s a game. I’ll tell you the reason why, and you try and match it.

Reason 1: I started it and then something else caught my eye more.
Reason 2: I didn’t LOVE the first one, so this one just kept being put off.
Reason 3: My kids kept stealing it from me.
Reason 4: I didn’t actually buy it til 2019.
Reason 5: Hype. I hate hype.
Reason 6: It didn’t really seem like something I’d like, but I’d like to give it a go because the author is BRILLIANT.

HAHA. I’m looking forward to seeing your guesses!

Don’t forget to share your #SixforSunday posts with me! I love seeing you all join in: it makes my little heart so happy!

Come back next week for #SixforSunday does 2018 books I want to reread.

S x 

 

April in books

Hello!

As if April is over already… this Summer is very quickly approaching and it’s INSANE! Anyway, you’re here because you’re nebby and wanna know what I read in April? I know… me too! I LOVE seeing what other people have been reading! April was quite a brilliant reading month for me tbh! Let’s get on with it!

In April, I:

Spent many morning having breakfast in Quilliams
Got to spend time with some of my favourite humans in the world
Had a few ups and downs
Loved MG books
Had a lot of fun in the sunshine
Ate satsumas again for the first time this year (I love satsumas ok?)
Spent a lot of time laughing
Found my working out mojo again (not massively so… but at least it’s back!)
Spent a lot of time crying at books
Read 20 books (I KNOW RIGHT!)

TWENTY BOOKS THO? How bloody bonkers.

I had better start with MG books, because that takes up the majority of my reading over the month!

2019 april mg

JUST LOOK AT THAT COLLECTION OF KIDS BOOKS!

I am very lucky that I’ve been sent some proofs, sent some finished copies and bought some myself. Most of these have made their way into my classroom now and are being devoured by my children. I enjoyed all of these books… you really couldn’t go wrong reading any of them. There’s something for everyone here: magic, history, science, folk tales, detectives, mystery, funny and adventure. Seriously: get on these books!

Some stand out books from this month:
The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson (out in September);
The Middler by Kirsty Applebaum;
Malamander by Thomas Taylor;
A Pocketful of Stars by Aisha Bushby (out in August)
High Rise Mystery by Sharna Jackson. 

Not only did I manage to read a FAIR FEW MG books, but I also read a canny few YA books too! I know… look at me! (Thank half term for all of this reading!)

2019 april ya

I feel very very blessed to be able to read some of these books. Again, I had bought some, were sent some by publishers and some friends shared others. Just like my MG books, there’s something for everyone in this pile.
Love pirates? Get on Viper.
Want a brilliant feminist tale with a massive dollop of history? Pick up The Burning.
Looking for something a bit more mystery? The Truth About Keeping Secrets is your book.
Want something to look forward to later in the year? The Places I’ve Cried in Public is your gal. 

My stand out YA books this month:
No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter (not out til August);
Viper by Bex Hogan;
The Fandom Rising by Anna Day (book 2 in The Fandom: out tomorrow!)

GUYS. SOMETHING AMAZING HAPPENED IN APRIL.
I read an ADULTS book. I know. I don’t know who I think I am. You can blame Melinda Salisbury for this. She never shuts up about it, so I KNEW I needed to read it. 

Circe

Of course I read Circe. Of course. Of course I loved it. 

Who knows… it might become a thing in my life. But don’t worry, I won’t give up reading MG and YA books. They are  very much my jam.

How am I doing for my book challenges?

Goodreads challenge: 54/52
#52books challenge (just kids books): 24/52

In reality those numbers are higher cause I don’t track non-fiction and picture books… but I’m going to post a picture book something or other in the coming weeks – so keep your eyes peeled for that!

How did you do with your reading in April? 
What were your stand out books from last month?
Do you agree with any of my faves from April?

What would you recommend me from your 2019 reading list?

Let me know! Lets talk books! 

S x 

 

The Words That Fly Between Us blog tour

Hello comrades! 

How are we all on this wonderful Tuesday morning? 

I have something very exciting to share with you all. I am here today to share an extract from the very brilliant ‘The Words That Fly Between Us‘ by Sarah Carroll. 

The Words That Fly Between Us

“Lucy’s father is a successful lawyer making a killing on the property market. She and her mother want for nothing. Nothing, that is, that can be bought. But money cannot buy Lucy the words she needs. The words to stand up to her bully of a father. The words to inspire her mother to do something about the family life that is suffocating them both. The words to become the person she wants to be.

Then Lucy finds something else: An escape route… 
Soon she discovers that every building on her row is connected, through the attic, to the next. As she explores the inner lives of those who live on her street, Lucy realises that she is not the only one to suffer in silence. She also sees ways she can help some, and ways to punish those that deserve it. But as the mighty fall, Lucy is forced to realise that while she can affect the lives of others from the safety of the attic, she will need to climb down to face her own fears.”

Words can be sticky. They nudge their way into the grooves of the tiles, and get wedged in tiny cracks in the plaster, and seep into the grain of the floorboards. And they stay there. If you look closely, you can see them. Our house is filling up with them. People don’t realize, though. They think you can just fling them around.

Chapter 1
I hate when Mum and Dad fight. Dad says they don’t, they have heated debates. Your mother gets heated while I debate. I’m with my sketch pad and pencil in the nook by the window in the living room. I’m not drawing anything in particular, really. 
‘Did I tell you, “Don’t get white wine”?’ Dad says from behind the double doors into the kitchen. Mum must have made a mistake with the order for his party tonight. 
‘Yes. You said you only wanted red—’

The higher Mum’s voice goes the flatter Dad’s stays. ‘Did I say, don’t get white.’ He’s doing that thing where he rolls the words around in his mouth before he spits each one out, just to be sure that there can be no mistake.
‘Here, look . . .’ She’s probably pointing to the piece of paper she’s carried around all week. It’s been opened and folded so many times it’s beginning to tear along the
creases. She’s right, there was no white wine on the list. ‘You wrote down—’
‘I’m aware I didn’t specify that you should buy white wine. I didn’t specify that we needed toilet paper either. Should I check the toilets?’
I know Mum’s searching Dad’s face right now, looking for just the right words. No more. No less. ‘Should I go out now . . . ?’
‘Oh, forget it, Alice.’
An intimate get-together, Dad had said. Starting around seven-thirty. Mr Reynolds will be dropping in. Mr Reynolds, who practically owns the bank. No fuss. Just enough hors d’oeuvres to keep the shareholders from dropping dead with hunger, so to speak. Four trays from Donnybrook Fair should do the trick. And champagne, of course. We’ll take one . . . No, wait, better make it two truck loads of the usual.

I realize I’m sketching Dad as he’ll look in a few hours, big smile, waving a fancy bottle around. We’re a champagne house, ha, ha. What’s that, you’re not a champagne drinker? Not to worry. Paula here will pop open a delicious little red. Oh, pardon me, it’s white wine you’re after… but… but… there is no white… Catastrophe. The whole night ruined. Dad’s head explodes. I don’t draw that.
‘You’ve had all week, Alice. I’ve so much on my plate, and I asked you to do one thing…’
The kitchen double doors open and I sit on my sketch pad so Dad doesn’t see. Wasting time drawing is bad enough. But I definitely don’t want to be caught drawing him. He’s already in his suit and a bright pink tie. His fun tie. He folds one door back so it’s flat against the wall. He sighs and shakes his head. Mum is standing behind him. She’s wearing her red silk dress. She’s had her hair curled and has her diamond earrings on too. After a while, she looks up. ‘Actually, I think there’s
a box of leftover white in the cellar.’ Dad acts like he hasn’t heard her, so she says, ‘I’ll go check.’

When she’s gone, Dad disappears through the kitchen too and I relax back against the wall. It’s got worse since he won that contract for The Old Mill last Christmas. It’s like underneath, things started turning bad, but from the outside you can’t see. Like an apple getting eaten up by a tiny worm. If you look closely you can see the
hole, but that’s all.

Take yesterday, for example, when Dad couldn’t find his golf shoes. Mum swore she left them on the washing machine, and she ran around looking for them while Dad
stood in the kitchen shaking his head and complaining that she was making him late for golf with potential investors. In the end, Dad found them in the conservatory. He
grabbed them and left without saying anything else because he was in too much of a hurry.

When he was gone, Mum went into the conservatory and stared at the spot where he had found them. She said, I was sure I left them on the washing machine around seventy times. Thing is, so was I. Because I saw her leave them there. I know it was only small, but things like that happen all the time since Dad moved into the big leagues. And the longer the development of The Old Mill is delayed, the more
stressed Dad gets.

It’s usually Mum that he gets annoyed with, but sometimes it’s me. And even when everything seems fine, you’re just waiting for that moment when the air sours. That’s why I hide my sketch pad. So he doesn’t give me that look – the same one he gets when he stands in dog dirt. Like I’m a disappointment. Or worse.

The side door to the front hall opens. Our cleaner, Paula, steps into the doorway and holds a champagne glass up to the light. She rubs at a smudge that’s not really there. She probably polished the wine bottles too. A great little cleaner, Dad calls her. Mum calls her a Duracell battery. Paula says, with her kids in school, she’s ready to do
something different. So she’s studying at night. But not tonight.
‘Have you eaten?’ she asks me.
‘Yup,’ I say.
She looks over the top of the glass at me. ‘Washed?’
‘Scrubbed,’ I say.
‘Good woman.’
She leans in a bit so she can see through the double doors.
‘What was that about?’ she whispers.
‘Mum didn’t buy white wine,’ I say.
Paula lifts an eyebrow. ‘He didn’t ask for white.’
‘I know,’ I say.
Now she lifts the other eyebrow. ‘And there’s loads
downstairs.’
‘I know,’ I say.

Mum comes back into the kitchen, carrying a box, walking like a robot because she’s trying not to trip in her high heels. ‘Found some!’ she calls and she tries to put the
box down carefully. But when she looks up, she sees Dad’s gone, and her words, and the box, drop with a thump onto the marble countertop. After a second, she claps her hands together and looks down at her dress to make sure it’s not smudged. I hop up to help but Paula says, ‘Stay where you are, honey. It’s covered in dust, you’ll ruin your clothes.’ She goes into the kitchen where Mum is saying, ‘Knew we had some.’
Dad comes in the other door behind them. He pulls a bottle out and turns it over to read the label. He sighs like his best friend, Oly, just died. ‘Best we can do, I suppose.’
Paula takes the bottle from his hand and whisks the box out of Dad’s way.

Dad comes back into the sitting room. He looks around at the platters and bottles and glasses on the tables. He plumps the cushions on the couch and runs a finger over the mantelpiece. He’s checking to see if anything is out of place. But there’s nothing wrong. Everything is gleaming. He notices me sitting in the window nook.
‘Ready?’ he asks.
I nod.
Then he says, ‘At least someone is.’

Who are his words for? They’re standing in the air like a glass of wine that someone was supposed to grab. But no one gets to them in time. They drop to the carpet and spread out in an invisible stain. That’s why the carpet’s so thick: it’s filled with words that no one wants.

‘You better go get ready.’ I look up. He’s talking to Mum, even though she’s been ready for over an hour. Her mouth drops open a bit. She looks down at her dress, then back at him. He breathes in deep and sucks up all the air in the room. Then he goes over to the couch. Reaches down behind it. Lifts something. It’s a box. He hands it to Mum.

Her hands are shaking a bit when she takes it. I’m leaning forward, as if that’s going to help me see better. All I can think is, Please let it be nice. Please. She lifts something out and the first thing I think is that it’s armour, like the chain mail stuff that knights used to wear. It’s not. It’s a dress. Silver and sparkly, in a really, really
expensive way.
‘Try it on. It should fit,’ Dad says.
‘Declan . . .’ Mum says. Her shoulders relax a bit. And the air rushes back into the room again. I breathe it in.
‘God, it’s just gorgeous,’ Mum says.
‘It would want to be. Cost nearly three grand,’ he says.
‘Three grand!’ I say. I didn’t mean to, the words just came out. Dad turns. But he laughs, too. He’s having fun now.
‘Why not?’ he says. ‘We have the money.’ He looks at both of us like our cat used to when he jumped in the window and plonked a dead bird down in front of us. ‘Mr Reynolds is going to be here,’ he says.
‘Thank you,’ Mum says and holds it up against her. She looks so happy that, for some reason, it makes me sad.
‘You. Are. Welcome,’ he says. Then he holds up his arm and shakes his wrist so his Rolex slides down. ‘Go on, go get changed.’
Mum rushes off. Dad surveys the room again and then goes into the hall. I hope the dress fits. And I hope Dad stays in a good mood.

If you’ve loved this extract, then I promise you, it only gets better. There’s so much I loved about this book. The characters, the interwoven lives, the secrets and lies. It’s great. The Words That Fly Between Us is out this month and I encourage each and every one of you to treat yourself! 

Massive thank you to Simon and Schuster for inviting me to host on the blog tour! Go check out the rest of the tour and get your hands on this brilliant book when it comes out! 

S x