BOOKBLOG: I Swapped My Brother On The Internet

I Swapped My Brother on the Internet: a funny tale about the ups and downs of brothers!

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“Everyone has dreamed of being able to get rid of their brother or sister at one time or another – but for Jonny, the dream is about to become a reality with SiblingSwap.com! What could be better? Finding the perfect brother isn’t easy, though, as Jonny discovers when Sibling Swap sends him a series of increasingly bizarre replacements for his brother Ted, including:
A merboy
A brother raised by meerkats
The ghost of Henry the Eight!
Suddenly old Ted isn’t looking so bad. But can Jonny ever get him back?”

I picked up this book during the Christmas holidays and it was a proper chuckle! Funnily enough it’s dedicated to Paul (the author’s brother) and my own brother is called Paul, so we had a little giggle about me swapping him for someone! 

Imagine that! Being able to swap your brother on the internet. BLISS. I don’t know if I would swap mine though. He’s far away enough as it is!

All Jonny has to do is put in on the website the kinds of things he likes, the kind of brother he wants and VOILA, he will get a new brother. His actual brother, Ted, is a bit mean to him. Ted laughs at Jonny. Jonny has had enough. He wants a brother he can play with, a brother he can have fun with, someone who wil appreciate what a good brother he is. Ted applies to SiblingSwap.com and what unfurls is a comical list of brothers! 

All Jonny has to do when he wants a new brother is request a swap and TADA the new brother arrives the next day. At first, this is brilliant. Jonny thinks he is on to a winner, but when he realises all of his “new brothers” are a bit weird, bizarre or NOT quite Ted, he starts to have second thoughts.

This book made me laugh out loud in places and I can imagine it will go down VERY well with the kids at school, especially those who have brothers! I loved the inclusion of Henry the Eighth, that was very unexpected. I sure wouldn’t like Henry VIII as my brother!

I am very pleased to be involved in the book blog for this funny book! Go check out the other bloggers on the tour! Their posts are brilliant!

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Author Information

Jo Simmons began her working life as a journalist. Her first fiction series for children, Pip Street, was inspired by her own kids’ love of funny fiction, and two Super Loud Sambooks followed. In addition to children’s fiction, she co-wrote a humorous parenting book, Can I Give Them Back Now?: The Aargh To Zzzzzz Of Parenting, published by Square Peg. Jo lives in Brighton with her husband, two boys and a scruffy formerly Romanian street dog. I Swapped My Brother on the Internet is her first book for Bloomsbury.

Twitter: Go follow her!

Illustrator Information

Nathan Reed has been a professional illustrator since graduating from Falmouth College of Arts in 2000. He has illustrated Christopher Edge’s How to Write Your Best Story Ever and the Elen Caldecott’s Marsh Road Mysteries Series. His most recent picture book is Samson the Mighty Flea by Angela McAllister. He was shortlisted for the Serco Prize for Illustration in 2014. When he’s not illustrating he can be found with his two boys and a football on Peckham Rye Common.

Twitter: Go give Nathan a follow!

Website: Check out Nathan’s amazing website too!

BOOKBLOG: Emma Carroll

Sky Chasers: an incredibly fun adventure with a chunk of Science and History thrown in!

dssbxltw0aacwna(I took Sky Chasers with me on a VERY chilly day in the park. I feel Magpie and Pierre would approve)

“An encounter with a boy dangling from the sky changes pickpocket Magpie’s life forever. Like her, the boy dreams of flying over the rooftops of Paris. His family, the Montgolfiers, are desperate to be first to discover the secret of flight. Together with Pierre, Magpie is soon caught up in a world of inflatable bloomers, spies and a trio of unruly animals in a race to be the first to fly a hot air balloon – in front of the King and Queen of France.”

Sky Chasers opens with the most incredible, pacey 2 chapters that I couldn’t wait to read on. In the first 2 chapters you are introduced to the brilliant Magpie, a young woman who is stealing to keep herself and her pet cockrel alive. She’s asked to steal a box from a very fancy house. There’s a mysterious woman who hires her to steal this box. Unfortunately for Magpie, she doesn’t manage to steal the thing that she’s been hired for, and the mysterious woman is not happy. She threatens Magpie. She says she will keep an eye on Magpie. And man, from that I WAS HOOKED.

This amazing book tells the story of the Montgolfier family and their race to beat the British to be the first to achieve flight. You meet the young Pierre and his father at the beginning of the book, innocently attempting to fly something and Magpie (our brilliant, charismatic thief) stumbles upon them and has to save the day. What ensues is a brilliant mix of friendship, kindness, science and a some special guests from history!

Through reading this you’ll have these questions answered:

  • How does Marie Antoinette end up with a lamb?
  • Why are there so many poultry in this book?
  • Why is Pierre’s uncle so mean?
  • What do ladies underwear and fire have to do with hot air balloons?
  • Why are there English spies in France?
  • How can Magpie be an incredible role model for young girls now?

Emma Carroll is a relatively new author to me (I know, I have no idea HOW either!) but I absolutely fell in love with Letters from the Lighthouse (based in WW2: review here) so when I found out she was writing another book, I had to get my hands on it. Now I need all of the Emma Carroll books as I’m totally gripped.

There’s an incredible sense of BEING in the book with the characters. I felt like I was in France with Magpie. It’s amazing when you feel like you’re in a story, or when you want to be friends with the characters in the story. I definitely wanted to be Magpie’s friend. She’s one of those excellent little gems you find in stories.

This book is just great. The kids at school are really loving it. There’s already a very long list of Year 5s and 6s who want to read this… so here’s hoping! I might have to get another copy of it for them to share! It’d be a great book to link in some history of 18th Century France, or some Science linked to Forces, but I mean. READ IT BECAUSE IT’S BRILLIANT… 

I must take a moment here to appreciate the incredible cover, designed by one of my favourite illustrators David Litchfield (of The Bear and the Piano fame!). I think it encapsulates the book so brilliantly. It is definitely one I would pick up! It has total shelf appeal! There’s also some incredible pages throughout the book with the “One for sorrow, two for joy” magpie poem which I thought was a brilliant addition. 

The idea for Sky Chasers came from an original idea by Neal Jackson (winner of The Big Idea Competition) based on the true story of the first hot air balloon flight over Paris!

Thank you so much to the incredible people over at Chicken House for sending me a copy of this book. You guys are brilliant!

If you could go back to any period of time in history, when would it be?
Do you have a favourite book based in history to recommend to me?
Have you read Sky Chasers? Do you love Magpie as much as I do?

Let me know in the comments, or on twitter! I would love to talk about this amazing book with you!

S x

 

 

BOOKBLOG: Marie Lu

Batman Nightwalker – a book which builds slowly, but packs a punch!

“Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy.”

Batman: Nightwalker is part of the DC Icons collection: a collection of books published by Penguin Random House, using DC heroes reimagined and written by some incredible authors. There has already been Wonder Woman, written by the incredible Leigh Bardugo, and later this year Catwoman is being released, written by Sarah J. Maas. Batman: Nightwalker is the second of the series to be released. I loved Wonder Woman, so I had high hopes for Batman. Thank you so much to the publishers for sending me a copy to read!

Initially this book was quite slow to build, but once you’re in the action YOU’RE IN THE ACTION. On reflection, I really liked the build up. I’m glad I persevered with it because it made it worthwhile in the end. I’m not a massive Batman fan, I don’t know that much about Batman, but I felt like there were some great tidbits of information that Batman fans would love. 

As well as meeting Bruce (the man, the bat, himself) you are introduced to creepy Madeleine. A baddie by every other name. She’s part of a group of villains named the Nightwalkers, who are currently playing Robin Hood, but a murderous Robin Hood. They’re killing rich people, hacking into their bank accounts and then stealing their money, all in the name of “doing what’s right”. She’s EVIL. She’s creepy. She was an absolute gem of a character. I really liked her as a character (not a person, she’s a BAD person). She added a whole level of intrigue to this story. I want more about her!

I really liked the relationships between the characters in this story. Bruce and Alfred’s relationship: the father-son, boss-employee, friends dynamic. I really liked it. Team Alfred so much. Their warmth compared to the coldness of the Bruce-Madeliene relationship was interesting. Bruce-Madeleine was an interesting dynamic. He wanted to know more about her. She was an enigma to him. She uses him to get what she wants. (I wasn’t a fan of the old romance in this book… gotta admit!) 

My goodreads review:
“Action packed, creepy and intense baddies and just the perfect pace. Slow to build and then BAM. I really enjoyed this book, and for a casual Batman fan like me, it was pretty good – not too much I didn’t understand!”

Have you read Batman?
If you could have your favourite author write a book based on your favourite superhero/supervillain… what would the combination be?

Let me know your thoughts! I’m going to go contemplate my author/hero combination now. I’ll let you all know later!

S x

January bullet journal

Hello there!

Today I am sharing my January set up in my bullet journal. I would share the end of December but you don’t wanna see the massive chunk in the middle unfinished. I’ve come to realise that doing my bullet journal at the end of a day is excellent for my brain as I have to reflect about the good over the day and not go to bed on a negative. So I’ve pledged to ensure that the same time I take my tablets before I go to bed, I do my bullet journal. Let’s see how that goes! 

So January…

This was a spread idea I stole from that good old trusty Kelly’s Rambles. I’m yet to add anything to my “future log” yet, but the idea is to put birthdays/essay hand ins/half terms/events on so that I have an awareness of when things are coming! I’ve done the whole year. 

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Another new addition to my bujo this year is my Books of 2018 page. I’m hoping to fill these shelves (not all of them, that would be ridiculous) with all the different books I read and colour code them according to the month I read them! (I had read 2 books already by the time I took these photos, there’s more on there now!)

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My next double spread is a bookish one! The first page is about #read365 (if you’re not sure what this is check out my book challenge blog post which tells you all about it! Also check out the hashtag on twitter!). The other side is my staple book post page. I hadn’t received any at the time of taking these pictures, hence the emptiness!

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Next up is my monthly mood tracker and gratitidue pages. I love to find something new and interesting for my mood tracker, and when I saw this idea on the internet I thought it was lovely! I’ve gone for a different array of emotions again this month… who knows when I’ll finally get round to coming up with my definitive list. I like my little tea cup. The other side is my happy page – I come up with something that has made me smile, or made me feel good, that day and write it down. It’s an excellent reflective thing, especially if you’ve had a shitty day. I always make myself find something.

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The final spread in my journal for now is my weekly one! As you can see I took this picture as I was in the middle of doing. A box a day, then one for the weekend, where I fill in whats going on on those days/what I need to remember. I’ve added a People to Thank box, as people are quite often lovely to me and I need to remember to say thank you to them. I’m not sure what I’m going to use the box at the bottom for… we’ll see! 

What do you track weekly?
What are your staple bujo pages?
Do you have a dotted, squared, lined or plain journal?

I’d love to talk about bullet journals! Comment and we can talk! 

S x

BLOG TOUR: Shell

A while back, the amazing people over at Scholastic asked me if I wanted a proof copy of a book that I had heard nothing about. I happily said yes, and then I was asked if I wanted to be part of the blog tour. Again, I happily accepted!

Everyone, it is my pleasure to introduce you to ‘Shell’ by Paula Rawsthorne

Shell: thrilling, gripping and a little bit freaky!

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“What if you thought you had died, only to wake up in someone else’s body? When Lucy, a teen diagnosed with terminal cancer wakes up cancer-free, it should be a dream come true. But faced with a life she didn’t choose and trapped in a new body, Lucy must face the biggest question of all . . . How far would you go to save the one you love?”

Imagine that, just for a minute, you thought you died, but lo and behold, no. You’re alive. The jubilation at being alive, but then realising you are in fact in someone else’s body, living in their body, with your memories and your thoughts. When I heard this… I was taken aback and reading this book I was thrilled, but I was also a little bit freaked out! 

Initially, besides being freaked out by the thought of being me in someone else’s body, I found Lucy a little bit hard to like (I think she’s difficult and hard to reach at times) BUT she completely comes through as a likeable character. She’s flawed, which makes her a lot more relatable, and I definitely grew to like her a lot more throughout the book. You realise some of the decisions she makes, some of the things she does could have justifiable reasons behind them. Knowing Lucy’s story definitely justifies some of her behaviour.

There’s some quite challenging themes in this book – life, death, memory, friendship, family, our willingness to do things for those we love – and I found that was one of the things that kept me coming back to this book. It challenged my own thoughts and feelings towards the characters, the story and also, made me think what would I do? (I would not like to be in Lucy’s place, or her parents’ place!) There’s a lot of struggle through this book – not from me, but from the characters. I definitely found myself pretty emotionally invested by the end, it was a lot. 

Building on the challenging themes, there are some interesting twists and turns… I’m RUBBISH at seeing twists and turns, so when they came along I was SMACKED in the face with them! I don’t do surprises well, but the brilliant story line, along with some great pace, plus characters I rooted for by the end, I was game for all of the twists and turns. They definitely kept me on my toes! It’s pretty grim and dark at times this book… but don’t let this put you off reading it. It’s gripping in its darkness. 

Also, can we just take a moment to appreciate that cover? HOW FREAKY IS THAT EYE MAN?

2018 marks the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and this book is an ode to that story! Definitely an interesting spin on the original idea. Now that I’ve read Shell, I am definitely interested in reading Frankenstein! Happy birthday! 

Have you read Shell?
How do you think you’d cope in someone else’s body?
Whose life would you like to live for a day?

Check out the rest of this blog tour! There are some amazing other reviews (worded much better than mine!) and some interesting posts! 

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Paula Rawsthorne is the award-winning author of Blood Tracks and The Truth about Celia Frost. She first found success when she won the BBC National ‘Get Writing’ competition with her prize-winning story read on Radio 4. She has also been a winner of SCBWI’s ‘Undiscovered Voices. She is passionate about enthusing teenagers to get reading and is a writer in residence in a secondary school for the national literacy charity ‘First Story’. SHELL is her third novel for young adults.

S4S – 2017 books I didn’t enjoy

HELLO THERE. 

So #SixforSunday does 2018. I hope you all didn’t fall out with me at last week’s responses… I know I am a terrible human. I just have different bookish moods ha.

Today we are thinking about:

2017 books I didn’t enjoy

NOW. I am not here to put any hate out there. I’m just here to mention books I didn’t enjoy. A bit of a healthy conversation as I normally only talk about the ones I love. So please lets have a good conversation about these, but don’t be angry yeah? It takes all kinds to make this bookish world turn.

  1. Freshers – Lucy Ivison and Tom Ellen
    I just didn’t GET it?
  2. Because You Love To Hate Me – various
    I don’t even know where to start. There’s only one bit of this that I actually now thinking back actually like.
  3. I Have No Secrets – Penny Joelson
    I didn’t NOT like this, it just made me MAD.
  4. Caraval – Stephanie Garber
    I have spoken about this book LOTS.
  5. We Come Apart – Sara Crossan and Brian Conaghan
    Whilst beautiful, the layout made it hard for me to read.
  6. The Monstrous Child – Frances Hardinge
    I finished this just feeling a bit underwhelmed?

DON’T SHOUT AT ME OK. 

Remember to share your six books from 2017 that you didn’t enjoy using the hastag #SixforSunday on twitter! Link me to your posts too. I would love to see them!

S x

COVER REVEAL: Truth Sister

Today is a very exciting FIRST for me here! 

Today is my very first COVER REVEAL.

 

The lovely people over at Impress Books asked if I would reveal the cover (which has also been revealed on their twitter account, go give them a follow @ImpressBooks) to a new and exciting YA book they are publishing in July! 

Without further ado:

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I love the mathematical, geometric, science-y feel to it!

A bit of info about Truth Sister:

“The year is 2149. The Women’s Republic of Anglia seeks to harness forgotten technologies from the time when men ruled the world. But when Clara Perdue stumbles on information that the Republic has tried to keep hidden, she begins to realise that the society she has been taught to believe in – and trained to defend – is not all that it seems. A secret from Clara’s past puts herself, her family, and her friends in danger, and Clara must choose between subservience and rebellion.

In a world where knowledge is power, what you know can save your life. Or it can get you killed.”

Described as The Power meets Only Ever Yours, this sharp, dystopian young adult novel raises  all sorts of questions about climate change and what we could be faced with in years to come.

I’m not going to lie… it was that final line that ABSOLUTELY had me sold. I can not wait to read this book. 

Thank you so much Impress Books for allowing me to host this cover reveal! #TruthSister out in July!

S x

BLOG TOUR: The Extinction Trials

Today, I get to share quite an exciting mood board I created for the blog tor of the amazing The Extinction Trials by S.M.Wilson

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“Betrayal. Sacrifice. Survival.
Welcome to the Extinction Trials.

In Stormchaser and Lincoln’s ruined world, the only way to survive is to risk everything. To face a contest more dangerous than anyone can imagine. And they will do anything to win.

But in a land full of monsters – human and reptilian – they can’t afford to trust anyone. Perhaps not even each other…”

My full review of this incredible book will be up in a few weeks time, but today I get to share my moodboard and talk you through my choices. If you haven’t read this book yet then you absolutely need to. It is exceptional. If you don’t believe me, go check out some of the other stop on the blog tour and see what they’ve got up to!

Extinction Trials: mood board

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I think my moodboard captures this book, or at least my imagining of the book, really well. I tried to capture scenery most prominently as this was the thing that stood out most for me. The amazing scenery and the characters of this book make this an interesting and deepening book – their relationships with each other, and their emotions towards each other complicate everything!. From climbing treacherous cliffs to prove bravery and ability, to wide open land with the threat of dinosaurs, to actual threat of dinosaurs, I’ve tried to capture the essence of this book in my mood board. I could’ve gone on with this mood board for pictures and pictures, but I definitely am happy with the finished result. 

I’d love to know what you would include in your mood board! Let me know in the comments. This book is brilliant and I implore all of you to read it! 

If you have already read it and would love to know more about the second book, check out #SundayYA this Sunday as Susan is the guest of honour talking about book 1 and revealing the cover and title of book 2. 

If that’s still not enough, if you sign up to Usborne’s YA newsletter you can get a sneak peek at the first chapter of book 2. I know I can’t wait! Sign up here

Thank you so much Usborne (especially Stevie) for letting me join this amazing blog tour! Check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour and join us on Sunday for #SundayYA Extinction Trials!

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S x

BOOKBLOG: Abi Elphinstone

Sky Song: a heart-warming, magical adventure in the heart of the Arctic.

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Once an adventure digs its claws in, there is not an awful lot you can do about it. Especially when magic is involved . . .’
In the snowy kingdom of Erkenwald, whales glide between icebergs, wolves hunt on the tundra and polar bears roam the glaciers. But the people of this land aren’t so easy to find. Because Erkenwald is ruled by a cruel Ice Queen and you must stay hidden or risk becoming another of her prisoners. Join Eska, a girl who breaks free from a cursed music box, and Flint, a boy whose inventions could change the fate of Erkenwald forever, as they journey together in search of an ancient, almost forgotten, song with the power to force the Ice Queen back. This is a story about an eagle huntress, an inventor and an organ made of icicles. But it is also a story about belonging, even at the very edges of our world . . .”

I was very lucky to be sent a signed proof of this book from the publishers and when I realised what it was I QUICKLY consumed it.

It’s magical.
It’s brilliant.
It is story telling at its very finest.
It’s exceptional.
It’s beautiful.
It knocked my socks off with how good it was. 
(I don’t have enough sentences to tell you how good it is!)

Sky Song tells the story of Eska and Flint, a pair of children who are brought together as part of an exceptional adventure to save their own lives, the lives of people from the evil Ice Queen. Eska is a brave and bold young lady, who ends up captured in a music box where she refuses to give in to the queen, and Flint is the inventive young man who, by accident, comes along and changes the course of Eska’s life forever. I really loved them individually and as friends they are just gorgeous. Their friendship was part of the beauty of this book. Abi writes friendships incredibly and this book just shows that. They also adventure with Blu, Flint’s little sister, an adorable character! A massive shout out to the animal characters in this book.

Abi’s world building in this ice-cold land is absolutely incredible. I felt like I was there. It’s a book you can get lost in. You will be in that land. You’ll feel part of the adventure with them. You’ll not be able to put it down. Whether it’s the freezing cold mountains, the incredible Ice Queen’s castle, Eska’s music box prison or the open lands of Erkenwald, you’ll be there. 

Throw all of this incredible scenery with magic, peril and friendship, with legends and tales intertwined you have the most exceptional tale. I can not recommend this book enough. I just adored it. I can’t wait to give it to the kids at school to explore and discover this incredible themselves. It will be a total hit.

IT HAS SPRAYED EDGES TOO GUYS. *heart eyes*

A massive congratulations to Abi for having Sky Song as Waterstones Book of the Month for January too! That’s amazing!

My goodreads review:
“This is a story filled with snow, magic, adventure, friendship, finding yourself, your clan and a whole load of hope and courage. I just adored this. Abi has an incredible way of ensuring you get lost in her world, but always feel looked after. I just adored it. 

Plus the acknowledgements had me BAWLING.”
(the acknowledgements are INCREDIBLE. I cried SO HARD)

Have you read Sky Song?
Would you manage in an arctic adventure?
If you had to have an animal companion, which animal would you choose?

Talk to me! Comment or tweet me! 

S x

2018 Reading Challenges

Welcome to 2018! 

How fast did 2017 go? Where did those months go? I tell you where they went, they disappeared with all of the amazing books that we read! 

So in 2017 I managed to read 112 books (not counting picture books). That’s a lot of books, I know. I didn’t think I’d read that many, but hey… well done me! Well done you if you managed to even pick up 1 book and read it. 

Now that we’re in 2018, I need to set out some of the reading challenges that I will be taking part in, I say that like I’m taking part in lots… I’m not. However, I am going to read a lot. I hope. I will. 

I’ve pledged to join in with my lovely friend Rachel’s #read365. #read365 was something Rachel started for herself, but lots of us twitter people have jumped on her bandwagon and have decided to join her. #read365 is all about talking about what you’re reading, and reading every single day. I’m pledging to read, and talk about what I’m reading, every single day in 2018. There’s a load of us on twitter joining in and already it’s such a lovely group to be part of! 

I’ve also pledged to read books by British authors. I’ve joined the British Books Challenge for 2018. This challenge is all about reading books written by British authors and celebrating them! (I was so bad at keeping up with this challenge, BUT I did read a lot of British authors last year… so that’s ok yeah?)

My Goodreads total I have kept at 52. I think one book a week is the right amount. Yeah it doesn’t sound like a challenge but this year is going to be a big one for me. I’m going to be finishing qualifying, hopefully getting my own classroom and starting my class teacher journey. Who knows how much time I’m going to have to read? I will always make time, #read365 will ensure that. So 52 it is. I’m hoping I’ll smash it like I did in 2017… we shall see!

And there we go. So far those are the challenges I’m setting myself! I want to of course keep reading MG and YA books. That’s what you’ll find on my TBR and my read pile! Check out my twitter and my instagram@eenalol – for updates and pictures of what I’m reading! 

What are your reading challenges this year?
Do you set yourself a target number of books?
Are there any reading challenges you’re involved in that you think I should know about?

Talk to me! 

S x