BLOG TOUR: She Wolf

She Wolf: an exciting adventure with a brilliant main character!

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“Northumbria, 866. Washed ashore on a frozen English beach, Ylva’s survived. She will not cry. She’s meant to be strong. She’s a Viking. But when her mother dies at the hand of a three-fingered man, and the wolves of the forest circle closer, Ylva will need more than the memory of her mother’s stories to stay alive. Can she shape her own legend? Will it end in revenge – or is there another way?”

As a massive fan of Dan Smith books, I was super excited to have my hands on a copy of She Wolf. (I’m not going to lie: this book DID fly out of my hands and in to the hands of a few of my chidlren before I got to read it though! Their short reviews are shared at the bottom of this review!) The cover interested me INSTANTLY and once I’d read the blurb I was like YES THANKS GIMME. The back cover tells us it’s “Vikings. Vengeance. Wolves” and never have I known a book summarised so well in 3 words – what more could you want from a book?! 

She Wolf is a brilliant account of what it would have been like to be poor living in the FREEZING cold Northumbria in 866. Ylva loses her mother at the beginning of the book and sets off on a mission to avenge her mother’s death (I mean who wouldn’t?!) She has a few clues about the murderer, but she knows that she’s going to struggle to trust people along the way on her mission. She does have one constant she can trust though: her brilliant dog, Geri. What ensues for Ylva is an adventure filled with twists, turns, survival, some violence and the quest to find herself.

I really liked Ylva. She’s really brave and bold. She’s determined and stubborn. She’s like an onion. You learn a lot about her as you go through the book – you turn the pages and you stip off another layer of her personality. This was one of the things that the kids liked most about her. They loved learning more about her as a person through the story. I really liked the relationship between her and Geri – this was touching. It’s important for us all to have a “constant” in our life and whether it’s a person or a companion of some description, they have a massive impact on our lives. 

One of the things I liked about this book was that once I opened the pages, I was there. There’s plenty of action, there’s plenty of intrigue. There’s intelligent twists and turns. I think Dan has written a brilliant story here that has got a lot of children talking!

A few of the thoughts of my kids:

“I loved that she was just like a person. Sometimes book charactes are never scared of things. I’d be really scared if my mam was killed and I’d never be brave. Plus she makes mistakes and no one’s perfect. I’d love to ask her how she was so brave!”

“I loved that this book was set in the past because books set in the past are the best. Just imagine living in that time. This book was really fun to red because there’s so much to read about and so many things happen. Plus there’s some scary characters to deal with”

“Imagine having a friend who loved you all the time. I really liked Geri because I’d like a dog who went with me everywhere!”

A proper hit! I can’t wait to see what Dan does next!

Thank you so much to Chicken House books for sending me an early copy of the book to review! Check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour to find out more about this brilliant adventure!

She Wolf blog tour banner

S x 

NYA Lit Fest

On Saturday, I had the utter joy of going to Preston for the second year of the NYA Literature Festival. (We’ll forgive the fact I had to be up at 5am and that there was some SERIOUS train anxiety going around coming home… I did get home at the time I was expecting, do not fear!) 

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I did a blog post a few weeks ago about all of the panels, and it was even better than I thought it could possibly be! It was a jam packed day of my favourite authors, some brilliant blogger friends and just a lush environment of book love!

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When we got to Preston, we got to the venue (a change from the venue last year and a massively better venue!) and were promptly given a stamp and told to go and have a root around. We went straight to the first panel, which saw Will Hill and M.A Bennett talking all things thriller books! That was a great panel to hear Will and M.A talk about their books and what they think makes a good thriller book. Exciting news when they both filled us in on the fact that there will be 5 S.T.A.G.S books and Will told us the synopis for his new bookdrug cartel, Mexican city and a missing family member. I’m looking forward to this massively!

If you haven’t read After The Fire, then PLEASE DO. It is incredible. I have prompty added STAGS to my TBR list!

Next up was one of the panels that I was most excited for: Feminism in Fantasy featuring some of my absolute favourites. Melinda Salisbruy (duh!) was chairing the panel featuring (the absolutely gorgeous) Laure Eve, (always brilliant) Samantha Shannon and debut author Rose Edwards. What ensued was an incredible talk all about feminism in fantasy, the different ways it is shaped and some great moments. A particular highlight was when someone asked the old “strong female character” question – many laughs were had around the room (for those who aren’t sure about this, check out Samantha Shannon’s twitter… she has THOUGHTS about this trope!) Promptly after this panel, I had to go and say hi to Mel (as usual, she had one of the longest signing queues!) 

I would whole heartedly reading anything by Mel, The Graces and The Curses by Laure Eve and, if you’re looking for something pretty epic, The Priory of the Orange Tree will keep you busy for a while! I’ve added The Harm Tree by Rose to my TBR too!

After the signing, it was time for a little spot of lunch. A massive change from the last time I was at NYA Lit Fest was that the university cafeteria was open, so we were able to have some food! I had the curry and it was delicious. Once I’d finished my lunch, I managed to sneak into the Inclusivity panel with the brilliant Aimee Felone – of Knights Of fame – talking to a fantastic mix of authors about all things diversity and inclusivity. It was fascinating listening to Non Pratt, Mel Darbon, Bali Rai and A.J.Hartley talking about their books and the issues their books deal with.

I would definitely recommend picking up Non’s books – they’re just so brilliant. After this panel, I’ve added a few books on my “to borrow” list from the library!

The second last panel of the day was brilliantly name Shame-less in YA. The gorgeous (and very pregnant) Katherine Webber was chatting with Laura Steven, Tamsin Winter and Melvin Burgess about all things shame. Shame is such a complex emotion, so it’s brilliant that it’s discussed in books in different and interesting stories in YA. I really enjoyed listening to the different interpretations of shame in their books. It was so insightful listening to the different authors talk about how their characters deal with shame and what it means to be “shamed”. One of my favourite takeaways from this panel was that (as Katherine Webber rightly said) we need two different words: one for shame the innocent feel and one for the shame that the guilty SHOULD feel. 

Again, I would COMPLETELY recommend both of Katie’s YA books (Wing Jones and Only Love Can Bread Your Heart) and you DEFINITELY need to get on The Exact Opposite of Okay and A Girl Called Shameless by Laura Steven. 

The final panel of the day came about and I was not ready for how emotional it would make me feel. Lisa Williamson was chatting with Sara Barnard, Alice Broadway, Akemi Dawn Bowman and Alexandra Sheppard about mental health in YA. I loved that there was representation for fantasy books, contemporary books and funny books on this one panel – so often we think of only contemporary books talking about mental health. This panel was just exceptional: talking about authors mental health, the importance of normalising the talk about mental health and the representation for everyone in books. I definitely did a little cry during this panel.

I’d recommend ALL OF THE BOOKS from these authors. I could be here a while listing them… so go and treat yourself. There’s something from all of these authors for everything! 

After this panel, there was one last signing and then we trotted off to the train station to catch out (very delayed) train home!

A massive massive congraulations to the organisers for this event. It was run so brilliantly and I was SO SO HAPPY to see so many of my favourite authors and some of my favourite bookish people in the same building! I can’t wait to see what the next NYA Lit Fest will look like! Bring it on!

Did you attend NYA Lit Fest?
What’s your dream panel to listen to?
If you could organise a bookish event, what would it be?

Talk to me! (Well done for getting though all 1000 words of this! You deserve a star!)

S x

S4S – Fave bookish couples

Good afternoon! 

Sorry for my radio silence this week – it was a MAD weekend last weekend and I just never did manage to catch my tail. Don’t worry… this week I have a whole host of blog posts coming to you! 

However, today we are here to celebrate another week of #SixforSunday! I’m loving this month of finding my favourite bookish things! This week we are celebrating:

Favourite bookish couples

Now, I’m going to TRY and be unspoilery, but TO BE HONEST the statute for spoilers may have ran out on most of them! 

  1. Jin and Amani
    These 2 are my everything. The Rebel of the Sands trilogy is just one of those sheer delights in the world and I think everyone should go and read it. JIN THO.
  2. Sorrow and [spoiler redacted]
    I don’t know that this would be a spoiler, but Song of Sorrow has only been out a little while, so I won’t spoil it. But if you’ve read it… YOU KNOW. Oh you know. (If you haven’t and WANT to know, hit me up and I am HAPPY to talk about it!)
  3. Simon and Blue
    Let’s be real, I couldn’t NOT choose these two. I just ADORE them. As I read Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda, I just wanted more. I want a book of just Simon and Blue goodness though. So if someone could make that happen, I’d be grateful. Or if someone could point me in the direction of Simon/Blue fanfic that they love… I’d be on board for that thanks.
  4. Rhys and Steffi
    Fans of Sara Barnard will know that she writes the BEST. I love that Sara writes HEALTHY relationships and her boys are genuinely good eggs. I don’t think you can beat Rhys though. (Connor comes a close second… I’ll give him that!) A Quiet Kind of Thunder is INCREDIBLE, so if you haven’t read it, then get on it!
  5. Inej and Kaz
    Do we technically know these two are a thing? NO BUT I SHIP IT. They quite clearly love each other an incredible amount. And I love it OK? If you’ve not read Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom, then please get on it ASAP.
  6. August and Beck
    I think I’ve decided that CGDrews can do no wrong in my eyes (even though her writing KILLS ME). In A Thousand Perfect Notes my HEART was living for August and Beck. I just love a good like “she brings light into my life” kind of moment. In fact, August and Beck are 2 of my favourite book characters of ever. 

Shout out to many many many other bookish couples. I LOVE a good ship. Like, seriously love a ship. I am a PROPER romantic at heart!

Don’t forget to share your #SixforSunday posts with me and use the hashtag on twitter! 

See you next week for An Ode To: Your Favourite Genre

S x 

BLOG TOUR: Proud

This year sees the release of one of my most hotly anticipated books, another brilliant anthology from the wonderful publishers Stripes. This year it’s an anthology to celebrate all things pride… and I’m not going to lie, reading it made me VERY proud.

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Today, I have the absolute honour of hosting one of the authors from the anthology, Michael Lee Richardson, as he talks about his top 5 queer teams. You’re in for an absolutely brilliant blog post, so get yourself a cup of tea and a biscuit! 

‘The Other Team’

Tales of the City author Armistead Maupin talks about biological families and logical families, the idea that we have the families we’re born into, and the families we make of our friends. For me, being queer is as much about our friendships and the people we choose to surround ourselves with as it is our romantic and sexual relationships. 

Queer friendship is one of the themes I wanted to work into ‘The Other Team’, the story I wrote for Juno Dawson’s Proud anthology.

With that in mind, when I was asked to write something for the #ProudBook blog tour, I wanted to focus on my favourite queer teams and my favourite queer teammates – so, without further ado:

Michael Lee Richardson’s Top 5 Queer Teams!

The Crystal Gems

I’m a huge fan of Steven Universe – at this point, figuring out which Crystal Gem someone is most like is basically its own form of zodiac sign – and I love the dynamic between the Crystal Gems: Garnet, Amethyst, Pearl and Steven. The fact that they compliment each other, celebrate each other’s differences, and make room for each others quirks and eccentricities is pretty inspiring, as is the fact that they know how to have a good argument and still be there for each other at the end of the day. In the real world, the fact that the Crewniverse – the team behind Steven Universe – is full of queers is also pretty inspiring!

The Fab Five

When I heard Netflix were remaking Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, I was skeptical – the series had its place in the early 2000s, but it felt like we had moved on by 2017. Relaunching the show as Queer Eye – not all the makeovers are with ‘straight guys’ – was a good starting point, but the team Netflix put together was the key to the show’s success. Jonathan Van Ness is my favourite, obviously (when I wrote Alistair from ‘The Other Team’ flicking his ‘hair’ off his shoulders, I was definitely thinking of Van Ness!), but I love them all, and they all bring something unique to the team – not just in their skills, but in their personalities and personas, and it’s nice to see a diverse bunch of queer men working together (especially when it’s for the benefit of other queers).

House of LaBeija

Nothing speaks to the idea of logical families better than houses, part of the drag and ballroom customs which started in Harlem in New York and have become a staple of queer scenes all over the world. From the language – shade, reading, fierce, realness – to the fashion to the dance, ballroom’s influence on queer and mainstream culture can’t be underestimated. I’m particularly fond of the House of LaBeija – Crystal LaBeija, the founder of the House of LaBeija, is often credited as having started ‘house’ culture, and her successor Pepper LaBeija makes a star turn in the legendary drag documentary Paris is Burning.

Babysitter’s Club

Okay, so they’re not canonically queer – but one of the things Proud has made me revisit is the idea that, before LGBTQI+ YA was a going concern, we had to ‘queer’ our YA for ourselves, and there’s no way you could tell 11 year old me the every single one of these girls (and Logan Bruno, boy babysitter) wasn’t queer! The ‘theory’ checks out, too – Ann M Martin, author of The Babysitter’s Club, is queer, and came out publicly after the series was finished. 

Helen and Kate Richardson-Walsh

Slightly cheating, this one, as I said being queer teammates was more about friendships than romantic relationships – and Helen and Kate are both! Helen and Kate Richardson-Walsh met playing for the England and Great Britain hockey teams – they married in 2013, three years before becoming the first same-sex couple to win an Olympic medal when Team GB won Gold in the women’s field hockey tournament in 2016.

For me, any blog post that celebrates Team GB, The Fab 5 and drag queens in the same blog post is an ABSOLUTE winner. A massive massive thank you to Michael for taking the time to write a blog post for me! I LOVE it so much. 

My review of Proud is coming in the next week or so, so make sure to keep an eye out for it. I promise you this much though… it is EXCEPTIONAL and I can’t wait to shout about it from the rooftops!! 

Why don’t you go celebrate some other brilliant #Proudbook content by checking out the rest of the stops on the blog tour? I have absolutely loved how this blog tour is celebrating all things pride related. 

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A massive thank you to the people of Stripes for sending me an early copy of the book and for inviting me on the blog tour. It’s been an absolute honour to shout about this book everywhere! I can’t wait for it to be released into the wild so everyone can enjoy its majesty! 

S x 

 

BLOG TOUR: Dinosaur Department Store

Today is my stop on The Dinosaur Department Store blog tour and I am delighted to share with you my review! 

The Dinosaur Department Store Cover

The Dinosaur Department Store: a brilliantly illustrated picture book with a gorgeous nod to looking after animals! 

“Eliza Jane was an unusual child. Some called her wilful, some called her wild! Our feisty heroine Eliza Jane isn’t your average child. Instead of a cute, fluffy bunny, she has her heart firmly set on a prehistoric pet. Join Eliza Jane and her parents on a marvellous magical tour of their local dinosaur department store. From huge, stomping sauropods stretching their necks to a pair of loved-up Ankylosaurs called Maud and Frank, there are plenty of amazing dinosaurs for Eliza Jane to choose from. But this wild child is hatching a fantastic plan of her own.”

The Dinosaur Department Store tells the story of brilliant Eliza Jane who doesn’t want a fluffy bunny for her birthday. Oh no, she wants a dinosaur… obviously! Her parents take her to the perfect place for her to shop for a dinosaur… but when she gets there, she realises that what she really wants is the dinosaurs to all be free!

I LOVE that Eliza has parents of different races – which was something that one of my children noticed when I read it to them. This created a lovely talking point for some of the children in the class I read it to. I think it’s SO important to introduce children early to different families, so a massive thumbs up from me for this!

It’s such a brilliant thing to see a girl in a book who loves dinosaurs too! She’s a very determined young girl, who most definitely loves dinosaurs… which I KNOW will go down well with lots of parents of girls who love dinosaurs! Girls can love them too! This again created conversation about who can play with what toys!

I absolutely adore the bright and vibrant illustrations in this book. My eyes were constantly caught on the pages looking at all of the detail. Each page gives you something else to look at and search for. A particular shout out to the back page for its BRILLIANT pronunication guide (it certainly helped me to practice saying the names… being the dinosaur novice I am!)

Massive thank you to the publishers for sending me this gorgeous picture book – I think it’ll go down so well for so many reasons! So many brilliant things to talk about and look at in this book! This book went down SO well with the group of children I read it to! I can’t wait to read it to more children to see what their reactions will be.

Why don’t you check out the rest of the blog tour to see what some other amazing bloggers thought of this book?

DINO QUOTE CARD

S x 

Song of Sorrow mood board

Well hello! Happy Wednesday. How are we all?

Today is a very exciting day. Today is the day before the official release of ‘Song of Sorrow’ by one of my absolute faves – Melinda Salisbury. I have, of course, read the book already (thank you Scholastic, you guys are my faves) and needed to share my thoughts and feelings with you all (you’ll see that tomorrow in my MASSIVE REVIEW). Today however I’m sharing my mood board. 

Now, for those of you who have read Song of Sorrow, I’d like to think you can find the symbolism in my pictures before you read my spiel, however if you haven’t read it yet, don’t worry. My mood board and description are SPOILER-LESS (which, let me tell you, is VERY tricky for me because all I want to do is go OMGOMGOMGOMG SPOILERSPOILERSPOILER). 

I had a whole load of fun doing this and hope you guys like it!

Song moodboard

Let’s start with the abandoned corridor – this for me depicts one of the more unexpected settings of the book. It’s eerie, it’s spooky, it’s somewhat inviting though. It’s intrigue, it’s curious, it’s ‘what’s down the hall?’. Sorrow finds herself somewhere she’s never been before and as soon as I saw this picture, for me, this could’ve been where she was. 

The poison bottle – obviously this is a Mel book, so there’s SOME kind of poison going on. For me reading Song, there’s both literal and figurative poisoning going on. There’s poisonous people, poisonous thoughts, poisonous actions. It’s a bit of a thread. I loved this picture and thought it was spot on.

The girl looking out of the window could be Sorrow or it could be Irris – I didn’t really know. Sorrow makes some BIG decisions in this book and there’s a feeling of loneliness at times too. I saw this picture and it screamed ‘contemplation, loneliness, betrayal’ – pretty perfect for Song of Sorrow tbh.

The butterflies flying from the jar are beautifully symbolic of freedom. Whether that’s freedom from physical restraints or freedom from thoughts. Sometimes you’ve got to make a MASSIVE jump to free yourself: from yourself, from your past, from other people, from expectations on your shoulders. Sorrow is the butterfly and the jar is the life she’s been living for her whole life.

Man, those creepy hands and thorns. Now this is quite a literal depiction of a scene from the book BUT it could also be reaching out for help. I can’t go into too much detail here because SPOILERS. This was the perfect “saw this and thought of you” picture.

The holding hands represent again another MASSIVE SPOILER, but they also represent strength. Sorrow needs to find a lot of strength in this book (because she’s living her life, she needs it surrounded by bloody Vespus) and she finds it through some familiar faces. We all need those people who will stand by us and hold out hands (both physically and figuratively) because let’s be honest, we all need help in life. 

The last picture (the quote from Mandela) might be one of my favourite quotes that I didn’t know existed. It’s one I’m all about in my own life, but it’s also one I think Sorrow so brilliantly lives. She’s terrified (and rightly so) and makes choices out of fear, until she maybe doesn’t anymore. 

(All of these pictures I found on Pinterest! All rights and all that jazz to the people they belong to!)

I hope you enjoyed my mood board, and let me know if you read Song of Sorrow…. I am ALWAYS here to talk Mel!

S x 

 

March bujo

Well hello there friends! 

Today, I have the joy of sharing with you my March set up in my bujo… I am RIDICULOUSLY in love with my monthly page (so much so that I’ve shared it on most of my social media haha!). Thank you for all your lovely comments about my February bujo post – you are all too kind! My bujo is very much something I look forward to doing at the end of a night. A tiny bit of colouring in, a big chunk of thinking about how the day has gone! 

Stop rambling Steph, and let’s get on with it:

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March’s bujo colour scheme is blue and grey. I actually saw this idea months ago on a good old google search and it stuck in my head. I thought this colour scheme was fitting of the scene. I love the little paper planes!

My first 2 pages are a quote page and my gratitude page. I’m all about a quote now it seems! I had a few quote pages in February, and this has continued into March! I’m a big fan of the importance of kindness so decided this quote was the one to go with. The other page is my gratitude page. As usual, I choose one thing that I’m grateful for/one things that made me smile on that day and add it to my page. These are my favourite pages to look back on because I’m just reminded of all the positive things that happen in a month! 

My next 2 pages are my bookish pages: book post and reading page. The first page (on the left) is the page for my book post. I loved my postbox last month (and so did a lot of you!) but this month I decided to go back to a minimalistic approach. The other page is for my “books I’ve read this month”. I’ve strayed away from a book shelf type format and I’m just going to write any books I read in clouds (to match my front page!) 

Something new I’m trying this month is a habit tracker (left page). I’ve never had a habit tracker before, and I don’t honestly know if it’s going to stay, but I thought it would be an interesting thing to try for a month. I’ve decided to track going to the gym, daily reading, daily water intake, blogging, 8 hours of sleep and 10k steps. If I do the thing, I get to colour in the box. As you can see so far I’d managed to sleep for 8 hours but had not yet attended the gym… let’s hope by the time March finishes, I’ll have SOME of the gym ones coloured in! On the right of the double spread, I have my trusty mood tracker. I’ve gone for a Tetris style of tracker and using varying shades of blue. I can’t wait to see what it looks like finished to be honest. I’m also tracking far fewer moods than I have in the past – I’ve gone for excited, happy, meh, tired and sad

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The last double spread we have so far is my weekly spread. I’ve gone for a different style from last month… I’m all about experimenting until I find the one I love the most. I enjoy using my weekly spread because it helps me to plot what’s happening in a week. My trusty mood graph is firmly in my bujo – I find it REALLY helpful for tracking moods and when I’m at my lowest (generally night time!) I have already needed to adapt it to add a “life” box, for all those life things I need to do that aren’t work or blogging related! (I’ll be honest, the fact the days don’t have capital letters makes me sad… but it’s for stylistic reasons! Also, if I’d been wise, I would’ve taken this picture before I wrote in it… but never mind!)

And that’s it for now! I hope you enjoyed my blue and grey themed March bujo. 

Do you have a bujo?
What’s your favourite thing about being a bujo-er?
Which of my pages do you like most?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments, or tweet me! 

S x 

February in books

Hello there!

It is March already, HOW DID THAT HAPPEN? Genuinely though… February WHIZZED past. 

Today I’m here to share with you the books I read in February!

In February, I:

Had half term and it was brilliant
Started Priory of the Orange Tree and am still reading it!
Received lots of incredible book post (thank you publishers!)
Experienced lots of unexpected sunshine! 
Spent time with my goddaughters having a reading date
Shared lots of brilliant books with my kids
Had some bloody brilliant lessons
Read 14 books

So, what did I actually read in February? 

I read a whole host of books, with reviews for a load of them coming in the next few weeks – so watch out for those! Check out the reviews that are already live if it takes your fancy!

Let’s start with MG for a change!

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Everdark – Abi Elphinstone (World Book Day 2019 book!)*
Swimming Against the Storm – Jess Butterworth*
The Star Spun Web – Sinead O’Hart
Owen and the Solder – Lisa Thompson*
Asha and the Spirit Bird – Jasbinder Bilan*

And now some YA?!

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The Boy Who Steals Houses – C.G. Drews*
The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali – Sabina Khan*
The Quiet at the End of the World – Lauren James
A Girl Called Shameless – Laura Steven
The Extinction Trials: Rebel – S.M. Wilson*
Song of Sorrow – Melinda Salisbury*
The Cold is in Her Bones – Peternelle van Arsdale*
Devoted – Jennifer Mathieu*
The Disconnect – Keren David*

(any books with a * were proofs or finished copies sent to me by the publisher)

How am I doing for my book challenges?

Goodreads challenge: 25/52 (lol I’m almost half way already!)
#52books challenge (just kids books): 6/52

How did you do with your reading in February? 
What was your favourite read of February? 
What would you recommend me from your 2019 reading list?

Talk to me in the comments. I don’t need more books… but will HAPPILY take more recommendations! 

S x 

S4S – An ode to… my favourite author

HOLA. 

Tis I, your friend, #SixforSunday, again! Welcome back to my home. Here we start a new month and a new theme for #SixforSunday in March. In March, we are celebrating the things we love most about the bookish things in our lives. March’s theme is titled “An ode to…” so this is a brilliant time to celebrate everything you love about your fave author/illustrator/bookish couples/genre and debut authors/novels. I am very excited for this month, because I am ALL FOR having a good shout about things I love most. 

Today’s #SixforSunday prompt is:

An ode to… my favourite author

I love MANY authors. Like, this post could have been dedicated to many many humans that I love most. In fact, I could do a MONTH of this post (that wouldn’t be very interesting for you lot to read…) and still not have dedicated my life to enough authors. 

However, being very on brand… I am dedicating my ode to Queen Mel. (I KNOW RIGHT SHOCKER!!) 

To Mel, thank you for:

  1. Being brilliant and badass (you never fail to just be BRILLIANT)
  2. Writing incredible females (Sorrow is just wonderful and I am ever so thankful for you bringing Twylla into my life… we all know how much I love Twylla)
  3. Bringin Luvian Fen into existence (if you’ve read Song of Sorrow, you’ll know why I needed to make this a thing. I love Luvian Fen so so so so much)
  4. Being HILARIOUS (if you’re not following Mel on twitter, then you most definitely should be…)
  5. Always having an ear for me (whether it’s to let me livetweet you as I read your books, to offer me a shoulder to cry on, or a place to rant…)
  6. Showing me I’m brilliant (thank you for the times you’ve done this, particularly when you told me to embrace my crown)

I have WAY MORE THAN 6 things to write in my ode… but there’s 6 of the most important ones! I could keep going and turn this into a letter… but I decided to keep it short and sweet.

Share your ode on your blog and share the author love – use the hashtag #SixforSunday, cause I want authors to know how much we love them! 

See you next week for An ode to… my favourite illustrator! I can’t wait to see what people’s choices are!

S x 

 

BOOK BLOG: Lisa Thompson

Owen and the Soldier: a brilliant tale about the importance of feeling heard 

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Owen and his mum are struggling. It’s just the two of them now and they’re finding it difficult to ask for the help they need.
When Owen discovers a crumbling stone soldier in a memorial garden in the local park, it feels like he finally has someone he can talk to. But the town council can’t see how important the soldier is and they want to remove him. Owen’s so scared that he’ll be left on his own again, but can he find the courage he needs to save the soldier before it’s too late?”

The brilliant publishers of Barrington Stoke had heard how much of a Lisa Thompson fan I was, so asked if I wanted a proof of her newest book… I OBVIOUSLY SAID YES. Lisa is one of my auto-buy authors… she’s just brilliant. 

So… Owen and the Soldier. This book tells the story of Owen, a young boy who is struggling a bit with everything that’s going on in his life. His mum is poorly, he’s not having the best time at school – he’s just not having a wonderful time and he feels really lonely. The one person who always makes Owen feel better, who always listens to him, is a stone statue of a soldier in the local park. Owen visits the soldier every day to talk to him. One day however, it is revealed that there are plans to move Owen’s soldier from the park… and Owen needs to find his voice to help do something about this. 

I REALLY REALLY loved this book. It made me cry, a lot (I know, I know, you’re all shocked that I cried at a book). I think Owen is one of those brilliant characters who come along in MG books. He’s also another character that Lisa does so brilliantly: boys who are going through things. It’s something that I think we need more of in MG books. Here, you have a young boy who is struggling and trying to be strong because he’s the “man” of the house, when in reality his silence is him screaming out for help. A brave decision is made and he eventually gets the help that him and his mam so desperately need. 

I also love the fact that despite the fact he doesn’t WANT to be heard, he ends up doing something which MAKES people listen. He finds something he is very passionate about and it helps him find his voice. Making a stand for something and fighting against his fears to talk about why it’s important to remember those who have gone turns things around for Owen. 

This book has since been read by a few of my Y5s and they just adored it:

“This is a short book but it has such a big meaning. You’ve gotta stand up for something if you want something to change.”

“I loved Owen because he was scared of something at the beginning, but then he changed and it made everything better. We all need to be a bit brave sometimes”

“I loved that this book was a brilliant story in such a short story. You don’t need loads of pages to tell an important story. All stories are important because everyone deserves to be heard – just like Owen”

My goodreads review is SHORT, but says it all:

Really bloody enjoyed this. Owen is a BRILLIANT MC and this story is proper touching. Man, I’m definitely not in bed crying… NOPE.

A massive massive thank you to the publishers for sending me a review copy! I can’t wait for the finished copies, because I ADORE that cover so much and I think this is a story that children should read. 

S x