#DesertIslandBooks – Peadar O Guilin

Good morning everyone! 

Today’s #DesertIslandBooks contender is the brilliant author of one of my favourite books of recent times! Who is it? I hear you bellow! Well it is none other than the brilliant Peadar O Guilin. If you haven’t read The Call yet, then my word get on it. My review for the incredible 1st book in the duology (is that a word?) can be found here: BOOKBLOG: Peadar Ó Guilín) Go check him out on twitter, you’ll find him at @TheCallYA.

DIB rules

“I, Claudius” by Robert Graves.
The ultimate underdog story. Claudius is probably the unconscious inspiration behind several of my own protagonists. The supporting characters are amazing too, especially the terrifying, yet hilarious, Caligula and his grandmother, Livia, the calm poisoner. It’s intrigue all the way until everybody is dead!

“Silver Metal Lover” by Tanith Lee.
I don’t enjoy romance stories very much, and the idea of reading about a girl falling in love with a robot would put any book right to bottom of my TBR. But Tanith Lee’s work is always so rich and intense and in this book, she turned a dodgy premise into a work of genius.

“The Fifth Season” by N.K. Jemisin
I laugh sometimes when I see authors on the internet talk about how dark their work is. Everybody and their dog seems to think this of themselves. None of them has read “The Fifth Season” as far as I can tell. This is world-building at its best and most horrible.

“Black Juice” by Margo Lanagan
I don’t understand everything that happens in a Margo Lanagan short-story. I only know that each and every one of them flicks buttons in my soul and changes me.

“Story of your Life and Others” by Ted Chiang
This is one of the best collections of Science Fiction short stories I have ever read. The title story was the basis for the hit movie “Arrival”, but Ted Chiang’s version is far more effective in my opinion. The other tales are wonderful too.

“The Unfortunate Fursey” by Mervyn Wall
I’ll need a few laughs on my desert island, so for this, I’ll pick Mervyn Wall’s forgotten work of comic insanity, “The Unfortunate Fursey”. A simple medieval monk crosses an Ireland full of Monty Python characters and supernatural creatures. This has to be read to be believed. But only if you can find a rare, precious copy.

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” by David Bowie — no extra tracks, please!
If I can only take one album it has to be Ziggy Stardust. The whole thing is arranged to tell a story, or rather, to suggest a story that we listeners have to put together ourselves. It’s full of cracking songs, some of which will be famous until the heat death of the universe. But for me, a YA writer with a penchant for dystopia and the post-apocalypse, “Five Years” is the best of all. The lyrics of this song explore the reactions of people on the day everybody learns the Earth is to be destroyed in five years time.

Ombar Chocolate bars. Vegan. Tasty. Expensive.

The things I would save? 

The Call and the song Five Years

(Controversial! Didn’t choose The Call, BUT I will let you off Peadar as it is an incredible book!)

Thank you so much Peadar for being involved! 

S x

You can’t stop the beat…

Things that have made me smile recently

The Hairspray soundtrack. Hot showers on a cold day. My kids. Teaching. Learning. Reading. Author friends. Gorgeous morning skies. Snuggling up in a warm bed. Kind words. Book post. The NHS. Tablets that make me better. Getting better. Understanding friends. New friends. Books. Finding a book so magical, you feel like a kid again. Starbucks. Biscuits. Bagels. Minty sweets. Having a job I love. Supportive colleagues. Twitter friends. Cat pictures. Sleep. Festiveness. Michael Buble. Bublemas. Buying Christmas presents. Fairy lights. Chasing my dreams. Pyjamas on the radiator. Dancing twiglets. Blogging. Texts. Letters in the post. Books. Always books. 

Down the TBR hole…

I have seen this meme on my friend Kelly’s blog (check our her most recent Down the TBR hole post here: clicky) and was most curious as to getting started! I had no idea what it was all about, just that it involved your TBR. After checking Lia’s post about the meme (I was a bit clearer!) so thank you Lia for creating and explaining!

It works like this:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if youre feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Now it must be noted that my Goodreads isn’t the most reliable tell of my TBR pile (the books in my bedroom are probably a lot more reliable), as I went through a phase of not using Goodreads. But let’s see!

How To Be A Woman – Catlin Moran


Apparently this was the first book I ever added as a TBR book on Goodreads. I still haven’t read it, but I do want to. I will KEEP it for now.

Guilty Wives – James Patterson and David Ellis


I am a massive James Patterson fan (despite not having read much by him recently), but this doesn’t hit a chord anymore so I will REMOVE it.

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants – Ann Brashares


I see people talking about this all the time and feel it’s one I might enjoy, so like the Caitlin Moran book it can stay for now: I will KEEP it.

It’s a Funny Kind of Story – Ned Vizzini


I remember adding this around the time I was reading Perks of Being a Wallflower (maybe!). It’s still one I want to read, so I will KEEP it.

My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One Night Stands – Chelsea Handler


I have NO recollection of adding this! I do like some of Chelsea Handler’s work, but I think this is one I will REMOVE.

Seriously… I’m Kidding – Ellen Degeneres


I love Ellen Degeneres. I think she’s one of the best humans in the world. I need to get my hands on this, so it will be a book I KEEP.

Boy: Takes of Childhood – Roald Dahl


I know, I know. I can’t quite believe I ahven’t read this either! I am pretty sure I own a copy of this, and will get round to reading it eventually, so it will be a KEEP.

Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang – Chelsea Handler


Clearly Goodreads Me likes Chelsea Handler. However, like the other one I think I will REMOVE this. 

The Catcher in the Rye – J.D.Salinger


This is a book a lot of people talk about, and I just have not got round to buying or reading yet. I do think it is one I will read however, so I will KEEP this for now!

A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess


Again, this is another kind of classic that I haven’t yet got round to, but I fully intend on one day! For this reason it is a KEEP book. 

That was fun! I kept 7 books and got rid of 3

Which books would you have kept?
Which would you have got rid of?
Have you ever tried to clear out your TBR list?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments, or on twitter!

 S x

Some weeks are better than others…

Monday brings a reflection of the week gone and my word, what a week last week was.

If you didn’t already know, we had Ofsted in. I don’t have much to say about the experience, except it was stressful, frustrating, exhausting and tough. I did lots of teaching (as a student, I’m slightly different to the rest of the staff in terms of observations) and a lot of helping people out. I have very mixed feelings on Ofsted, but those thoughts are for another blog post in the future. There were some positives from the inspection, and some areas to think about. The one thing that is sticking out to me the most however is the absolutely incredible spirit of the brilliant people I work with. The amount of enthusiasm, effort and sheer joy we have every day for our school, our kids… it’s incredible. Find people you love working with, and it will make even the hardest of weeks bearable.

Besides Ofsted, there’s not been much going on. I went on a behaviour training day at a local primary school, situated in one of the most deprived parts of Newcastle. It’s always interesting to go somewhere else and see how they work there, so to see somewhere with similar issues to my own school was brilliant. I took away a lot of ideas and things to think about from the day – for me the best kind of day.

Yet again I’m poorly. This is week 3 of being poorly. It’s exhausting and just frustrating. I want to be better again, but I guess that’s not happening. I’m just hoping that it will all be OK soon!

I want to take a little minute to say thank you to anyone who took time this week to check in how I was. A massive thanks to Mr Johnson for asking me every day, it means a lot. I’m not great at looking after myself and finding ways to swich off, so to have people telling me to do so and checking how I am makes a difference.

So yeah, last week was hard for a multitude of reasons… Christmas in primary schools is lovely though. 

Thanks for sticking with me!

S x

S4S – Books with a number!


Sunday again. Another Sunday closer to Christmas! AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!

Today is another #SixforSunday post! Thank you so much to the people who have been joining in with my silly little Sunday posts! I am currently devising the list for 2018! Hope you all continue to join in! Today we have:

Books with numbers in their titles

  1. Station Eleven (the gorgeous Sara Barnard keeps telling me to read this… I will, I will)
  2. 1984 (A book we read at GCSE; a book I still love now!)
  3. Catch 22 (another book I keep meaning to read… I will one day!)
  4. The 5 People you Meet in Heaven (I love Mitch Albom books so much. This book is gorgeous)
  5. Six of Crows (I know I know, YA people will just scowl at me for not reading this yet, I will get round to it! I own it!)
  6. Half Upon A Time (one of the teachers let me borrow their copy, so I best get round to it!)

So there are my 6, some read, some I need to read!

Share yours with me, use the hastag #SixforSunday. I will check them out!

S x


Desert Island Books – Susan Wilson

Good morning gang! 

Today we have another brilliant author taking part in #DesertIslandBooks! Today Susan M Wilson, author of the hotly anticipated ‘The Extinction Trials’ has agreed to be castaway! I bet she would rather be castaway than featured in her own book… it’s pretty intense!! If you’re interested, go check it out on Amazon. I suggest you buy it… it’s going to be a HIT! Go follow Susan, @susanwilsonbook!

DIB rules

Steph, I found this very hard which is why it took so long!

6 books
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen
The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jo Jo Moyes
Across the Universe by Beth Revis
The Girl with all the Gifts by M R Carey (YESSSSSSS)
My book choices would probably change every day.  Day job is nursing and the premise behind The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox reminds me so much of the some of the elderly patients in a mental health ward I came across 25 years ago.  Some of them had been in hospital most of their lives and staff didn’t really know why they were there.  The Last Town on Earth is an epidemic style book that appeals to my public health nursing head.  Jurassic Park has always fascinated me and I continually wonder What If…..?  I’m a real sci-fi freak so Across the Universe struck close to the heart. 
Snackchocolate, always chocolate.  I am a chocolate addict.
Tea or coffee – always coffee.  My favourite is a skinny latte with sugar free caramel. (I’m sure I can arrange that!!)
My music choices reveal my age!
Queen – Under Pressure.  
Lionel Richie – Dancing on the Ceiling
Simple Minds – Alive and Kicking
Wham – Last Christmas
Luther Vandross – Never Too Much
Justin Timberlake – Can’t Stop the Feeling
Sam Smith – I’m not the only one
Tears for Fears – Everybody Wants to Rule the World
Spandau Ballet – True
Michael Jackson – Man in the Mirror
George Michael – Faith
The Script – The Man who can’t be moved
Soft Cell – Tainted Love
George Michael and Aretha Franklin – Knew you were waiting
Human League – Don’t you want me?
The one book I’d be left with is Jurassic Park because Michael Crichton is just the master, and Simple Minds Alive and Kicking.  Seems fitting for a desert island!
Thank you so much Susan for agreeing to be castaway! Thanks for joining in #DesertIslandBooks! I hope you manage to stay alive and kicking!
S x

Desert Island Books – charlotteswhere

Today I am sending my friend Charlotte off to #DesertIslandBooks! I have only read 1 of her book choices, so there’s a whole load of books for me to add to my list! You should go follow Charlotte over on Twitter (@charlotteswhere). Check out her choices below!

DIB rules

6 books:
1. Northern Lights by Philip Pullman 
2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte 
3. Sandman Omnibus by Neil Gaiman
4. Auschwitz and After by Charlotte Delbo
5. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
6. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Snack: chocolate covered hobnobs

Drink: unlimited coffee

Music album: MeatLoaf – Bat Out of Hell 2

When the Desert police come I will cry. 

I’d keep Northern Lights for my book and Everything Louder than Everything Else for my song. 

Thank you so much Charlotte for agreeing to be castaway, I hope your coffee and your book kept you company once the police had been!

S x

Letters to… my people

I haven’t written a letter to, in my ‘Letters To’ series, in a while, so I thought now would be a great time. Today’s letter is to my clan, my friends, my people… you probably ARE one of those people if you’re reading this… so to you:

Hello lovely person reading this letter,

Today I am writing a letter to you, yes you. You’ve probably come to read today’s blog post because you follow me, because you’ve said something kind to me, because you’re one of my friends, because you support me: for whatever reason you’re here today, this letter is for you.

A year and a half ago, I started this little blog of mine and I never imagined that it would be the blog it is today. Blogging was something I did for me, because I’d done it for work and because I thought it would just be a great opportunity to get my thoughts into the world. Never did I imagine that I would get from blogging everything that I have. From blogging I have the best bunch of friends I have ever had in my life: you are all supportive, incredible, inspiring, hilarious and lovely. You listen to me rant on about whatever it is, you put up with my ridiculousness, you support me on the days I’m feeling a bit rubbish. My blog, and my love of blogging, wouldn’t be what it is now if it weren’t for you. Thank you for the support – however you’ve supported me, it means the world.

It’s also so weird to think that a year and a half ago I didn’t know many of you. In fact some of the most important people in my life, I didn’t know a year ago.Fast friends are the best friends. Whoever said that online friends aren’t real friends, hasn’t met MY friends. I think you are all incredible. I’m very lucky to have both teacher friends and bookish friends, who have been with me through a pretty stressful year and a half. I know it’s not going to get easier, but I also know that each of you will be here for me. That means the world. It makes me a bit choked up. All of you wonderful people amaze me. If I’ve met you, I probably miss you. If I haven’t met you, it makes me sad to have not met you and we need to change that soon ok?

I don’t want to name everyone, because I will undoubtably miss someone out and I would be here forever, but know this.. if you’ve supported me, been nice to me, challenged me, made me laugh, you’re part of my clan. For me, I need to surround myself with people who support me and cheer me on for all of the MANY MANY times that I don’t support myself and cheer myself on, and you have done that. Yes you. Whether you realise it or not.

So thank you. Each and every one of you. Whether you realise I’m talking to you or not. I probably am. You’re all wonderful. I owe you a drink, the next time (or the first time) we meet.

S x



BOOKBLOG: Holly Bourne

It Only Happens In The Movies: heart-breaking and moving.


“Audrey is over romance. Since her parents’ relationship imploded her mother’s been catatonic, so she takes a cinema job to get out of the house. But there she meets wannabe film-maker Harry. Nobody expects Audrey and Harry to fall in love as hard and fast as they do. But that doesn’t mean things are easy. Because real love isn’t like the movies…

The greatest love story ever told doesn’t feature kissing in the snow or racing to airports. It features pain and confusion and hope and wonder and a ban on cheesy clichés. Oh, and zombies… YA star Holly Bourne tackles real love in this hugely funny and poignant novel”

When I heard that Holly Bourne was writing a new book, I knew I needed it straight away. When I heard Holly Bourne was going to be doing an event in Newcastle (which I sneakily found out at YALC, a few weeks before it was announced!) I knew I needed to be at it, regardless. It isn’t often that events come to Newcastle, so I was THERE. If you’re interested in my blog post about the event, you’ll find it here: Events!

But onto the book. The main event. I managed to NOT buy the book before the event, despite everyone shouting about it, I was good and MY GOSH was it worth the wait. It is just incredible. It broke my heart in so many places, that even now a few weeks later I am still putting my heart back together. In ‘Movies’ (let’s call it Movies, cause it’s much shorter), you meet Audrey: a teenager, trying to get through life, despite everything falling apart around her. Her mam is struggling a lot with the separation from her husband; Audrey gets a new job (where yes, of course, there is a handsome young man for her to fall for) and she’s trying to deal with the stress of exams and the future. She split up with her ex and there’s reminders of him everywhere, she gave up things when they split up that she regrets. She’s just trying to keep everything together, when it just seems to be falling apart.

She gets a job at a cinema and things in her life outside of home perk up from there. She gets to meet some amazing friends. Does a bit of acting. Learns how to make guacamole. Confronts some sexism. Kisses a boy. Pulls apart some romantic comedies. Fights against stereotypes (there is an amazing monologue from Audrey in the sampler that I needed the book for). While all these things seem to be going well, her mam is falling apart. Her mam is REALLY struggling. She’s not coping, at all. She seems to have good days. She has really bad days. Audrey needs to often balance looking after herself, with looking after her mum. 

I just have so many feelings about this book that I will never get them down in a way that does this book justice. Audrey is brave and bold. She’s brilliant. Keeping herself together while everything with her mam is falling apart must be the hardest thing ever. My heart broke for mam. My heart broke for Audrey. I cried for a good 20 minutes after finishing this book. WHAT DID YOU DO TO ME BOURNE?!

The thing that stands out for me about this book is that it deals with very real problems, without shying away from them. Mam’s struggles. Audrey’s worries about her past relationship. The relationship between Audrey and her mam. Audrey’s brother. The feminism shouting. I just adored it. 

Go on. Read this. You won’t be disappointed. 

Have you read It Only Happens In The Movies?
Do you have any favourite romantic films?

I am a fan of a romantic film, so go on, shout some at me. I (totally don’t) need more in my life. Leave me a comment, or catch me on twitter (@eenalol)

S x

Desert Island Books: readable_life


We are coming to the end of the #DesertIslandBooks entries sadly! There are still a few to come, and if you still have one to send in, please do! Keep your eyes peeled in the new year, I have another tag idea brewing at the minute! If you might be interested then let me know! 

But for now, I welcome my lovely friend Layla to share her #DesertIslandBooks choices! You’ll find her @readable_life on twitter! Go follow her, she’s lovely!

DIB rules

Thank you to the amazing Steph for sharing such a cool idea! I’ve decided to take the plunge and torture myself with cutting down my favourite books from many to six. SIX. Goodness, that’s not very many at all… So let’s get to it, shall we?

Six Books

  • Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  • Harry Potter and the Order of The Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
  • Nimona by Noelle Stephenson
  • Who Let The Gods Out by Maz Evans
  • Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
  • The Lord Of The Rings three-in-one by J.R.R. Tolkien (Is that technically cheating? Oh…)
  • The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien


This is the hardest question. One the one hand, it’s an unlimited supply of a snack that I love. On the other hand, am I going to get bored of this snack? Is there fruit already available on the island so I don’t have to pick satsumas? I hope theres citrus fruit available… I suppose I’d choose french fries! I know, super unhealthy, but they are so GOOD.

Tea or Coffee?

Surprisingly enough, I don’t really drink much of either. ‘Madness!’ I hear you cry. ‘An outrage!’ ‘She can’t be British without tea flowing through her veins!’ Well…I just don’t really drink much! If I had to choose, it would be a healthy supply of chai tea lattes, please!

Music Playlist

  • To All Of You by Syd Matters
  • Meet Me In The Hallway by Harry Styles
  • Closer To The Edge by 30 Seconds To Mars
  • The Kill by 30 Seconds To Mars
  • What We Lost In The Fire by Troy Baker
  • Empire State Of Mind by Alicia Keys/Jay Z
  • Over and Over by Nelly/Tim Mcgraw
  • Changes by 2Pac/Talent
  • 19-2000 by The Gorillaz
  • Asterisk by Orange Range
  • The Sky by Hajime Wakai
  • I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday by Wizzard
  • Nate’s Theme by Greg Edmonson
  • Confessions by Masashi Hamauzu
  • Crystallize by Lindsey Stirling

Final Choices

Uh oh. The Desert Island Police are here, desperate for good music to listen to and good books to read. Out of the kindness of my heart, I hand over the majority of my possessions. But that leaves only two things left to keep…

  • Harry Potter and the Order of The Phoenix by J.K. Rowling. I’m sorry other books, I really am. OoTP is the one book that I’ve read so many times it’s falling to pieces. Time and time again, I know I can return to this period of Hogwarts and have all of that magic come straight back to me immediately.
  • Crystallize by Lindsey Stirling. This was actually a lot harder than the books. Unlike the books, where I know I’ll enjoy them any time, you have to really be in a certain mood to listen to some songs. Crystallize was one piece of music that I always seemed to go back to, through college, university, and even now. It’s a brilliant piece of music, and has a great blend of dubstep and electronic violin, perfect for any mood.

Thank you so much Layla for agreeing to be castaway! I LOVE that you have a Christmas song on that list… now I might need to put a Christmas song on my list!

S x