Best of 2018: YA edition

It’s time! It is the end of 2018 and here comes my “best of the year” series!

For books to be considered in the “best of 2018” series, I had to have read them in 2018. So this discounts some of my favourite 2018 releases…

Today’s best of series takes on:

2018 best ya header

Hello, my name is Steph and I love YA books. I am VERY sad because due to my own rules there are a few books which SHOULD be on this list but can’t be. Let’s just take a moment to appreciate State of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury, The Exact of Opposite by Laura Steven and Goodbye Perfect by Sara Barnard. These books WERE released in 2018, but I read them in 2017 so could not be considered for the list. Sad sad times. BUT BLOODY BRILLIANT BOOKS.

Anyway… let’s get on with the list!

2018 best ya(there’s a lot of orangey red tones on this list!)

Fierce Fragile Hearts: Sara Barnard

Oh Sara. This follow up to Beautiful Broken Things turned me into a broken thing with a fragile heart. I loved everything about this book and I am yet to put my throughts into a cohesive bunch to write a review. Watch out for this in 2019 please kids.

Scythe: Neal Shusterman

GUYS. GUYS. THIS BOOK. I BLOODY loved this book. It had EVERYTHING I wanted in it. It was menacing, brilliant and clever. Just exceptional.

More Happy Than Not: Adam Silvera

THIS BROKE MY HEART. I loved little Aaron and have been in his shoes. Every now and again, I remember this book and it makes me SO SAD. But it’s SO worth a read. Go on.

Show Stopper: Hayley Barker

So it seems 2018 was the year I loved circus books. Show Stopper (and its sequel Show Stealer) was just EVERYTHING. There was danger, a horrible horrible villain and a brilliant cast of characters on the side of good. I devoured this duology in no time and would recommend you all do it too!

Floored: the Floored 7

Of course this book was going to make my list. I BLOODY LOVED IT. Such a clever idea. Such a brilliant story. I can’t wait to reread this book some time. If you wanna read a book by some of the most talented humans in the world, get your hands on this.

Six of Crows: Leigh Bardugo

Another book I’ve slept on for a while, but as soon as I started reading… that was it. SoC is JUST EXCEPTIONAL. Kaz Brekker is everything. There are no other words. I need more of Brekker in my life and you definitely need him in your life if you don’t know of him. Danger, wit and friendship.

Clean: Juno Dawson

This book made me swear on the tube it’s THAT good. It’s gritty and dark. Lexi is one of those characters who stick with you. I read this book months ago and she’s still there in my head.

Spark: Alice Broadway

If there’s one thing I love about a book, it’s when there’s a folklore woven beautifully into it and Alice GETS IT RIGHT EVERY TIME. Spark (and Ink, its predecessor) are just exceptional pieces of storytelling (GIMME THE 3RD ONE PLZ SCHOLASTIC)

A Thousand Perfect Notes: C.G.Drews

We ALL KNEW there’d be a book on this list that absolutely made me cry like a baby and here we have it. This book broke me in pieces. It’s SO horrific, but so light. I can’t describe how incredible this book is. It just is. Please go and treat yourself to it.

Hero at the Fall: Alwyn Hamilton

HOW SAD I AM THIS SERIES IS OVER. But this book was the most satisfying end it could’ve had. I was STUNNED at one point. It made me cry, it made me happy, it shocked me. Jin ❤

THERE WERE SO SO SO MANY MORE that could have been on the list. YA in 2018 seemed to be on another level. I can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store, 2018 has set the bar PRETTY high. 

A massive thank you to all of the brilliant publishers who have sent me books this year. You guys are amazing. I love reading your books and then shouting about them all over the internet. It makes me so happy. 

S x 

Best of 2018: MG edition

It’s time! It is the end of 2018 and here comes my “best of the year” series! 

For books to be considered in the “best of 2018” series, I had to have read them in 2018. So this discounts some of my favourite 2018 releases…

Today’s best of series takes on:

2018 best mg header

Just like yesterday, they aren’t in any real order. I’ll link to any reviews I’ve posted but I’ll give a short review!

Pages and Co – Tilly and the Book Wanderers: Anna James

Story telling at it’s absolute finest. Absolutely brilliant. I want to be a kid again to fall in love with this over and over. 

Beyond the Odyssey: Maz Evans

Love Greek Gods? Love having your heart ripped out? Love laughing? You’ve got yourself a winner here!

The Storm Keeper’s Island: Catherine Doyle

I fell in love with this very quickly. I love the idea of the magic in this book. Just lush.

Rooftoppers: Katherine Rundell

I don’t know how I hadn’t read this book before this year, but my GOD it is exceptional. I just devoured it. With a romantic setting like Paris and characters like this, you can’t go wrong!

The Wild Robot: Peter Brown

I LOVE Roz with all of my heart. This book is a WONDERFUL mix of Science, frienship, charm and wit. 

The Truth Pixie: Matt Haig

Guys. This book though. It made me WEEP. It’s so incredibly important. PLEASE get this read if you can.

The Nowhere Emporium: Ross Mackenzie

This is another one I’m not sure how I slept on it so long, but when I read it, it changed the game. I did a WHOLE 4 weeks of work on this book. The kids loved it just as much as me. I love this book.

The Way Past Winter: Kiran Milwood Hargrave

Oh man. This book is like the perfect wintry book. This book is one of those brilliant ones that deals with kindness – to yourself, each other and to the world. I absolutely loved the world that this book was written in. 

Royal Rabbits of London series: Simon Sebag Montefiore and Santa Montefiore

I ADORE this series. It’s so much fun. Rabbits are the ones who are secretly on the lookout for the queen? Secret service rabbits with rats as their enemies? This is one of the many brilliant series to come from 2018.

Sam Wu is NOT afraid of Ghosts: Katie and Kevin Tsang

Brillaintly funny with exceptional illustrations from Nathan Reed! I adore these books in that laugh out loud way. Like Royal Rabbits, the Sam Wu series is another brilliant one to come from 2018.

THERE WERE SO SO SO MANY MORE that could have been on the list. I read SO many incredible MG books in 2018. I can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store, 2018 has set the bar PRETTY high. 

A massive thank you to all of the brilliant publishers who have sent me books this year. You guys are amazing. I love reading your books and then passing them on to my kids! 

S x 

S4S – 2018 in books

HELLO AND WELCOME TO THE SECOND LAST #SIXFORSUNDAY OF THE YEAR. 

I’m so incredibly thrilled it’s Sunday again because I love a good #SixforSunday post! 

Today’s prompt is:

2018 in books

What did I mean by this? WHO KNOWS! I’m going to go with some facts about the books I read in 2018 (so far away!). I’m stealing some of these facts from Goodreads. Thanks boo.

  1. The longest book I read was Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. 
  2. The shortest book I read was Shona, Word Detective by John Agard
  3. The author I read the most of was Harriet Whitehorn. I adored the Violet series and we all know I loved Company of Eight.
  4. I read (so far…) 154 books.
  5. I’ve read 40,706 pages this year (so far..).
  6. I read loads of picture books that I didn’t count to my total.

And there you go. #SixforSunday does 2018 a week too early! These numbers will hopefully change by next week. I have 2 weeks off school and I am EXCITED TO READ ALL OF THE BOOKS (no, I’ve still not read THUG. Soz)

See you next week for the final #SixforSunday of 2018! AHHHH. 

S x 

 

Christmas Cracker Tag

Hello there! It’s Friday again… it’s FINALLY ALMOST THE CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS. There’ll be a “first term wrap up” post coming… but today just a bit of fun. I’m taking on the Christmas Cracker Tag, which I first saw on my friend Cora’s blog. Check out her post here.

christmas cracker tag

Lets get on!

Pick A Book With A Wintry Cover

Image result for sky song abi elphinstone

Sky Song by Abi Elphinstone: you don’t get much more wintry than actual ice and the Northern Lights. This book is BRILLIANT too. Would recommend!

Pick A Book You’re Likely To Buy As A Present

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The Truth Pixie by Matt Haig: there is something incredibly special about this book. I definitely think everyone needs to read this book.

Pick A Festive Themed Book

Image result for the night i met father christmas

The Night I Met Father Christmas by Ben Miller: I finished this last weekend and it is SO BRILLIANT. It’s like the most brilliant version of a Christmas story ever. I wish I’d read it before now, cause I’d love to share it with the kids I teach.

Pick A Book You Can Curl Up With By The Fireplace

Image result for a quiet kind of thunder

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard: for me sitting by the fireplace is dedicated to romance and loveliness. This book is one that’s stuck with me. I will need to find time to reread it. I just adore Steffi and Rhys.

Pick A Book You Want To Read Over The Festive Period

Image result for dry neal shusterman book

Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman: the absolute angels of Walker sent me a copy of this last week… in perfect time for my Christmas holidays!

Pick A Book That’s So Good It Gives You Chills

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A Darkness of Dragons by S.A.Patrick: I recently finished this and man, I just loved it! As a massive MG fan, it’s really great to come across a book that ticks so many boxes!

Pick A Book Going On Your Christmas Wishlist

Image result for six of crows collector's edition

Six of Crows Collector’s Edition by Leigh Bardugo: I’ve not actually told Santa this is on my list… so I might have to treat myself post Christmas!

Let me know your thoughts!

S x

BLOG TOUR: Rosie Loves Jack

Happy Wednesday!

Today I’m here as part of the blog tour for the brilliant Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon.

They can’t send you away. What will we do? We need us. I stop your angry, Jack. And you make me strong. You make me Rosie.

Rosie loves Jack. Jack loves Rosie. So when they’re separated, Rosie will do anything to find the boy who makes the sun shine in her head. 
Even run away from home.
Even struggle across London and travel to Brighton, though the trains are cancelled and the snow is falling. Even though people might think a girl like Rosie could never survive on her own. 
See the world through new eyes in this one-in-a-million story.

This is a blog tour like no other… today, in the spirit of the book, I’m going to share with you some people that I’d quite happily write to every day and why I think it’s important that we don’t let the art of letter writing die!

Dear everyone I love,

I think letter writing is a brilliant thing, that unfortunately is getting lost. It’s getting lost in our need for immediacy. I get it. I know that letter writing isn’t a thing that is necessary in the world of emails, text messages and WhatsApps – we get the answers we need today much faster. However, as much as it might not be necessary, it is JOYOUS. Tell me there’s something more exciting than receiving a letter in the post. Tell me there’s something more lovely than knowing someone’s taken some time to write you a letter.

I love receiving a letter. It makes me so happy. I’m not talking about bills and pension statements: I’m talking about letters from friends. Even the people I know the best in the world. I love receiving letters from them. One of my best friends and I go through phases where we write letters to each other and it makes me so happy. The sending and receiving of letters. I sent all of my children a postcard in the Summer holidays and the joy it brought them, and their parents, was such a testament to the power of letters for me.

Now I know I can’t write letters to everyone I know, every day of my life. If there was one person I had to write to every day, I would choose my brother or my best friend Kelly. Both of these people have a MASSIVE impact in my everyday life. Neither of them live particularly close to me – Kiruna (Sweden) and Cardiff… both FAR AWAY.

However, I’ll write to anyone who is willing to write back. There’s something very personal and therapeutic about writing a letter. I love that Rosie Loves Jack explores letters.

So hello, yes, you reading this – write someone a letter. If you don’t think you have anyone who would like to receive a letter, then send it to me. I’ll happily respond. It’s a lovely thing to do!

You’re all brilliant,

S x

Massive thank you to the brilliant humans of Usborne for asking me on the blog tour! It was a lot of fun getting to ramble on about writing letters and my love of it!

BOOK BLOG: S.A. Patrick

A Darkness of Dragons: a brilliant adventure!

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“After playing a forbidden spell-song to save a village from rats, 12-year-old piper Patch Brightwater is thrown in jail. But there he meets Wren – a noble girl under a rat-shaped curse – and together they befriend Barver, a fearsome dracogriff, and set off on a grand adventure filled with sorcerers, dragons, bandits…and one very deadly enemy.
From the depths of the Tiviscan dungeons to the highest peak of Gemspar Mountain, this stunning book reminds us of the soaring joy of adventure, the captivating danger of magic, and of the delight of finding friends in unexpected places.”

The brilliant humans of Usborne sent me a copy of A Darkness of Dragons a while back, but I’ve been in a bit of a state of reader’s block (as I explained in my November wrap up post). I’ve just been unable to read/do anything bookish of late… blame it on tiredness/SAD/general life. I read the first five chapters of this before said reader’s block started. Then, on Saturday, I picked this back up and within the space of a few hours I had CONSUMED the whole thing – that’s how good it is! 

This book is based in the world of the Pied Piper of Hamelin (which for me made my heart SO SO HAPPY – I love when books are based around traditional tales. If someone could write a book like this based on Rumplestiltskin, that would be incredible! I am a massive Rumplestiltskin fan!). Obviously, the Pied Piper is a terrible man and in this world, pipers are well loved and respected people. I loved the world of the pipers – the thought that music and magic were very much intertwined was a sheer delight to read. This was one of those books that once I was there, I was immersed in the world. I was walking through the forest with Patch and co. It’s an incredible world to be part of too… although I don’t know that I’d survive ha!

As well as this book being an incredible adventure, a young man, his dragon friend, his rat friend and an adventure to save their world, it features some absolutely incredible characters. Patch (the main character) is an incredibly brave and somewhat stubborn protagonist that I think kids will absolutely adore. Throw in Wren, a brilliant young girl who has been hexed into being a rat, and an incredibly sarcastic and dry dracogriff in the mix and you have this excellent bunch of characters who I just wanted more from. (I can’t wait for book 2 because I am a SUCKER for sequels!)

There’s some brilliant themes of friendship in this story. Unexpected friendships particularly. I loved the friendship that grew between Patch and Wren in particular. It showed that friends are there to support and guide each other through everything. These friends don’t have it easy, but they stick through the thick and the thin with each other! I mean, how many friends would stick by you when you’re thrown into one of the worst prisons imaginable?!

I think this book is going to go down a STORM at school. I can’t wait to hand it to some of the readers in my class. 

Have you read A Darkness of Dragons?
Can you think of a story you’d love to see revived?
Would you like a dragon friend?

Talk to me! Send me a dragon… please… someone?! Massive thanks to Usborne for sending me a copy!

S x 

Six For Sunday 2019!

Well hello friends! 

Today I have some exciting #SixforSunday things to share with you! I just wanna take a minute to thank each and everyone of you for joining in, reading or sharing any of the #SixforSunday posts that have been posted this year! #SixforSunday was something I started one Sunday and I had no idea anyone else would join in! I absolutely love doing #SixforSunday, it’s one of my babies. 

Thing 1: There is a #SixforSunday logo in the making that I will share with you all when it is ready! 

Thing 2: Below are the prompts for the first 6 months of 2019. As ever, you needn’t do the prompt that is suggested… just remember to use the hashtag #SixforSunday

#SixforSunday 2019… take 1

January – bookish beginnings

6th: New year, new books
13th: Bookish wishes
20th: Bookish loves
27th: Bookish hates

February – Celebrating LGBT books!

3rd: Favourite LGBT books 
10th:  Favourite LGBT characters
17th: Characters I’d love to go on a date with
24th: LGBT books I still need to read

March – An ode to…

3rd: Favourite author
10th: Favourite illustrator
17th: Bookish couples
24th: Favourite genre
31st: Debut books and authors

April – Kids lit represent

7th: Children’s books I love
14th: Books from my childhood
21st: 2018 kids lit must reads 
28th: 2019 kids lit must reads

May – The ever growing TBR pile

5th: 2018 books still unread
12th: 2018 books I want to reread
19th: 2019 books I want to read
26th: 2019 books I’m excited for

June – Bookish wishes

2nd: Books I want to be written
9th: Characters who deserve another/their own book
16th: Baddies who deserve their own story
23rd: Couples who need a sequel
30th: Characters I want to be friends with

And there we have it! Keep your eyes peeled for more exciting developments in the #SixforSunday world! 

See you on Sunday!

S x 

 

 

S4S – Bookish highlights

Hello there! Here we are for #SixforSunday again! 

(Sorry I’m late today… I don’t know where my draft of this post went!)

Today we’re here to talk:

Bookish highlights

I’m going to use this prompt to count down 6 books that surprised me and blew my socks off this year!

  1. Show Stopper and Show Stealer by Hayley Barker
    I BLOODY adored these two books. I knew I would enjoy them, but I wasn’t expecting to love them just as much as I did (I almost used a swear word there… that’s how much I loved them!)
  2. Scythe by Neal Shusterman
    This is one that I’d seen EVERYONE talking about… which always makes me suspicious… but my word, guys, THIS BOOK.
  3. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
    I hadn’t read an Adam Silvera book before, but guys… this book broke my heart SO MUCH. I have such vivid memories of sitting in Waterstones Piccadilly crying my heart out. 
  4. Outside by Sarah Ann Juckes 
    This isn’t out til next year but I won a proof at YALC. I just can’t with this book. It’s so heartbreaking, but so so brilliant. It made me go WTF at a few points, but it’s such an incredible story. Please PLEASE get this read next year when it comes out.
  5. The Secret Deep by Lindsay Galvin
    THIS BOOK MAN. I read this book MONTHS ago and it’s still one of those books that I want everyone to read. I just adored it. I think it matters so much cause it hit a chord with me too. 
  6. The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw
    I knew nothing about this book when I read it, but I ADORED IT. It’s dark and twisted and delicious. Go read it man, you won’t regret it!

And there we have it! Six books which surprised me this year! Thanks for popping by for this week’s #SixforSunday.

See you next week!

S x 

Christmas Songs book tag

christmas songs

Halo, halo, halo! 

It’s Friday… that means it’s TAG DAY. (I should start posting tags on a Thursday cause alliteration is my jam… but old habits die hard, maybe in the new year!) 

Today I’m taking on the Christmas Songs Book Tag. I saw this while browsing the interwebs for different tags and thought it was the perfect FESTIVE tag to be involved it. Plus, I bloody love a Christmas song! If you fancy joining in the fun, feel free! I don’t remember where I saw this first!

“You’re a Mean One, Mr Grinch” – Name a Villainous Character You Couldn’t Help But Love.

I’ve gone with Kaz Brekker for this one. I don’t know that he’s VILLAINOUS to be honest, but he’s not a good man… but my gosh, I adore him.

“All I Want For Christmas Is You” – Which Book Do You Most Hope To See Under Your Christmas Tree.

Song of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury. It’s not out til next year, but my word. I am SO READY for this book. (Hello Mel, or Scholastic, I love you guys).

“Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer” – Name a Character That Overcomes Major Obstacles and Learns To Believe in Themselves.

Steffi from A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard. I think this book is one of the greatest things to exist. I love everything about it. 

“Santa Claus is Coming to Town”:
a) Which character do you think would be on the top of the naughty list? 

b) Which character do you think would be at the top of the nice list?

Top of the nice list for me would be Rhys from A Quiet Kind of Thunder.
Top of the naughty list for me is Scythe Goddard from Scythe. He is a TERRIBLE man.

“Frosty the Snowman”: Which book just melts your heart.

All of them?! I cry at EVERYTHING. However, Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda made me so happy. I ship Simon and Blue so so much.

“Feliz Navidad”: Choose a book that takes place in a country other than your own.

Jack of Hearts and Other Parts by L.C. Rosen. Set in America, but I’m not sure why this was the first one to pop into my head since a lot of the books I read aren’t even set in the UK. 

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”: Which holiday themed book do you use to spread the Christmas joy?

I’ll Be Home for Christmas. This is an anthology that I read last Christmas that I just ADORED. I don’t read many Christmas books, but this one is MAGNIFICENT.

“Sleigh Ride”: Which fictional character would you choose to spend the holidays with (doesn’t have to be a love interest!)?

Hahaha! I went down the “not love interest” route, and decided on Tilly from Pages and Co by Anna James because I’d like to spend my Christmas holidays reading and book wandering please!

“Baby It’s Cold Outside”: Which book that you didn’t like would you sacrifice to a fire to warm yourself up in the cold?

Either Caraval or Freshers. I don’t hate either of them, but I didn’t particularly enjoy them either. 

“Do You Hear What I Hear?”: Which book do you think everyone should read?

The Truth Pixie by Matt Haig. It’s just exceptional. It will 100% be in my ‘Best Books of the Year’ list. Please, all of you, go and buy it, get it from the library: something. Read it. You won’t regret it.

And there you have it! My take on the Christmas songs book tag!

Are you surprised by any of my answers?
Would you agree or disagree with any of them?
Are you brave enough to take on the tag?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments! 

S x 

 

When life throws you lemons…

find the things you’re most grateful for. 

My little Christmas tree in my classroom. My kids loving doing the Advent calendar. My kids making me smile EVERY DAY. Laughing at the Christmas play (despite the fact I’ve seen it a fair amount of times). Being able to brush myself off. My cousins. My goddaughters. Books. Hot chocolate. Good news. A free slice of banana bread. Having tea with one of my favourite people. Quilliams. Being a Geordie. My brother and his sheer ridiculousness. Nachos, cake and tea. My family. Watching my best friend be brilliant and brave. Book post. Cats. People of twitter being lovely. Blogging. Finding that one song that you need to make you feel better. Little Mix. Cosy scarves. Hilarious Christmas presents. Looking forward to the future. Leaving work after a tiring day, knowing that I’m doing the thing I want to do forever. Being told I’m doing a good job. Overhearing my kids say how much they love coming to school. Singing the songs for the school play in the classroom. Walking into my classroom every single day. The sun. Reading to my kids. Seeing my class and their excitement when I bring in the book they won’t shut up about. Being proud of my kids. Working with some of the best, most supportive people in the world. Reading that book you’ve been waiting months for. New pillows. Books. Always books.