The Words That Fly Between Us blog tour

Hello comrades! 

How are we all on this wonderful Tuesday morning? 

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

The Words That Fly Between Us

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

S x 

A Pocketful of Stars review

A Pocketful of Stars: magical, mysterious and memorable.

(proof cover – see finished cover at the bottom)

When I next open my eyes, I’m back… in front of the house again. It’s night time. The stars wave hello, like they’ve been expecting me. The door of the house, Mum’s house, is wide open, like it expects me too. This time, I go inside…

Safiya and her mum have never seen eye to eye. Her mum doesn’t understand Safiya’s love of gaming and Safiya doesn’t think they have anything in common. As Safiya struggles to fit in at school she wonders if her mum wishes she was more like her confident best friend Elle. But then her mum falls into a coma and, when Safiya waits by her bedside, she finds herself in a strange alternative world that looks a bit like one of her games. And there’s a rebellious teenage girl, with a secret, who looks suspiciously familiar…”

I’d like to preface this review by saying that this book has been one of my most anticipated books of 2019 and that my giddy… it BROKE ME. SO MUCH. 

OKAY. Let’s go. I’m sorry if my thoughts are all jumbled in this review… just bear with me. 

A Pocketful of Stars tells the wonderful story of Safiya, a young girl who is forever battling against her mam and her mam’s opinions on Saf’s hobbies. Saf is a gamer and her mam doesn’t necessarily see that as a “wise” way to spend time. Saf lives with her dad most of the time, but she sees her mam on a weekend. When something happens to Saf’s mam, Saf has to battle to try to save her mam: someone she has more in common than she realises. 

Picking up A Pocketful of Stars was like being transported to this incredibly magic and mystical world. A world where magic is possible; where you can fight for something you need and want desperately; one where that fight matters. There’s a real life setting and there’s this incredible setting of this alternative world. The setting descriptions immerse you entirely in whichever setting Saf is in. Aisha has a GORGEOUS writing style. I didn’t want to stop reading (I was GUTTED when I finished the book… because I needed more!) When Saf learns and understands the link between the two, the magic really kicks off. You see the world through a desperate young lady trying to fix something that may be unfixable.

Saf is a brilliant main character. I loved the fact she was a gamer – it’s so important that we show that girls can be gamers. She’s flawed, brave, clever, resourceful, proud, honest and scared. She makes mistakes. She says things she regrets. She’s warm and kind. She doesn’t pretend to be something she’s not. I think a lot of kids (and adults) are going to like Saf. There’s going to be girls who see a bit of themselves in Saf – and we all know that seeing yourself in a character is so important. She’s proud of who she is, and as you go through the story she becomes more proud of where she’s come from. Learning about her family, in particular her mother, shows Saf that she’s more similar to her mother than she thought. 

I loved that this book dealt with a family dynamic in a way which is kind of flipped on the head. Usually, you see that children live with mam and go and visit dad. Here, however, you have Saf lives with her dad and goes and visits mam. It might seem like a small detail, but for me, I really liked it. Family is a massively important theme in this book – both the family you have now and the family that came before you. There’s a lot of discovery in this book. Saf learns about herself, her parents and her extended family throughout this book: in more ways than one. 

This book is BRILLIANT for kids 9+. Teenagers will love this too. It’s a bit more grown up than typical 9-11 books. I think (and this is a total compliment) this is one of those books that we discover privately. It gives me slight A Monster Calls vibes – another book I PROPER adore. 

This book is like a deliciously written scavanger hunt. We all love going on an adventure and this book scratches that itch satisfyingly so. You go on a scavenger hunt in a very unconventional way with Saf. I don’t want to spoil too much because it’s one of the things that was just incredible about this book – but the magic of this book (we all know I love a bit of magic in my life) just made my heart complete. The way in which Saf tries to go about saving her mam made my heart just leap with joy.

Along with joy however, there was a LOT of tears. I need to warn you guys of that.

Not that we judge books by their covers (ahem) but LOOK AT THAT MAN. It is just incredible. There’s going to be some real shelf appeal with this. I adore it.

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My Goodreads review:

God. This book. BROKE MY SOUL. Guys, it’s bloody brilliant. It’s full of hope, magic, wonder, intrigue and love. There’s so much love in this book: between friends, with family and for yourself and your own strength. I loved Saf’s story and I can’t wait for you all to discover it.

OK, I’m going to lie down now and have another little cry about this book. Because it’s brilliant. pocketful of stars

Have you read A Pocketful of Stars?
How do you feel about a scavenger hunt?
DO YOU LOVE THAT COVER THO?

Talk to me! A massive thank you to the humans of Egmont for sending me a proof copy of A Pocketful of Stars. Year 5 are going to DIE.

S x 

S4S -2019 Must Reads

Hello!

It is Sunday again. Where did this week go?! I hope you all had a lovely Easter weekend and haven’t worked too hard this week! 

Welcome back to another #SixforSunday! This is our final month of #SixforSunday does kids lit… but let’s be honest, I will always be an advocate for kids lit, so nothing is going to change here! 

Today we are celebrating:

2019 Must Reads

Now I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve read A LOT of incredible kids lit so far this year. You guys need to get on it. Kids lit is smashing the game at the minute and I am loving that so much.

2019 must reads

Against all Gods – Maz Evans
Mates… my heart was not ready for this. I am SO sad the Gods series is over, but this was the PERFECT ending. 

Wildspark – Vashti Hardy
This book is just PERFECT. I love SO MUCH about it. Vashti is an amazing story teller and I can’t wait to see this just explode online.

Rumblestar – Abi Elphinstone
Abi Elphinstone can do NO wrong in my eyes. Rumblestar was perfect amounts funny, adventure filled and gripping. I can’t wait to see where this series goes next.

Ghost – Jason Reynolds
This book keeps creeping back up on me and I’m so glad people are reading it now because I ADORED it. Coach is one of my favourite characters of ever.

The Girl Who Speaks Bear – Sophie ANderson 
I KNOW I KNOW. This book isn’t out til September, but guys, it is EXCEPTIONAL. How Sophie weaves stories and worlds together in such an icnredible way is BEYOND me. You need to keep your eye out for this when it comes out.

A Pocketful of Stars – Aisha Bushby
This is a debut novel from Aisha and it is just wonderful. It BROKE MY SOUL. It’s brilliant… SO BRILLIANT.

And there we have my 2019 must reads… SO FAR. There are SO MANY MORE. SO MANY MANY MORE. Those were the first 6 that came to my mind. (In fact, here’s 6 more…)

2019 must reads 2

Please share your 2019 must reads with me! Remember to use the hashtag #SixforSunday so I can share your post on Twitter! 

Come back next week for May’s prompts where we are celebrating our TBR piles (haha!)

S x

 

BOOK BLOG: Sarah Roberts

Somebody Swallowed Stanley: a beautiful story to teach children about the importance of looking after our oceans!

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“Say hello to Stanley! He’s swimming around in the sea, but he’s no ordinary jellyfish. Most jellyfish have dangly-gangly tentacles, but Stanley has two handles. Other jellyfish have a magical pearly glow, but Stanley has colourful stripes. Lots of hungry fish in the sea are looking for lunch, and all of them have a taste for Stanley. But plastic bags don’t belong in the sea – or in other creatures’ tummies…”

I’m gutted that I’ve only just found this book now because I’ve done my plastic pollution topic in my class this year! But next year… next year! 

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Somebody Swallowed Stanley is a brilliant picture book telling about the tale of Stanley – a jellyfish unlike other jellyfish, because he is a plastic bag – and what happens to him when creatures of the sea try to eat him. Some manage to spit him back out, but one of the creatures isn’t so lucky, until a brilliant young man comes along and saves the day. 

There’s some incredible messages in this book about the importance of being kind to the environment and recycling. Stanley is recycled at the end of the book to be a kite and this would be a great thing to get children thinking about what we can do with our plastics once we’re finished with them, so that they don’t end up in the sea!

One of the lovely things about this book is the riddle type verses that describe the animals which eat Stanley. This would be a great thing to use with children to get them to come up with their own riddles about animals under the sea! This could be an activity you do with children from as young as KS1 all the way to Upper KS2. 

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I love this book and it will be a firm fave that I bring out every year when we talk about plastic pollution. I don’t think picture books should be reserved for only EYFS and KS1 – my Year 5s this year have LOVED being read picture books! 

What are your favourite picture books to use around this issue?
What activities do you do to raise awareness of plastic pollution?
Are you any good at writing riddles?

Talk to me. I wanna know what activities and stories you use to teach kids about the importance of lookinga fter our world!

S x 

 

BOOK BLOG: Boy Oh Boy

I am FOREVER looking for inviting non-fiction books to get kids engaging with non-fiction. Recently, there’s been a whole host of absolutely brilliant non-fiction published by a range of publishers, but Quarto are absoluely killing the game! 

There’s been a whole load of these books published about brilliant women (and we can never have too much of that), but when I saw there was this book about inspiring men, from all kinds of fields, I knew I needed it in my life! The brilliant humans of Quarto were kind enough to send me a copy too, so thanks guys!

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“Meet 30 positive male role models from throughout history. From activists like Mahatma Gandhi and Frederick Douglass to creative innovators like Prince and David Hockney, these men have fought conventional stereotypes to prove that modern-day masculinity can be defined freely.

Instead of a single model of how a boy can grow into a man, this book offers 30 stories of people whose lives demonstrate that there are endless possibilities – that boys and men can do and be so much more than what we think of when we say things like ‘boys will be boys.”

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In this book, you get to discover a whole host of men ranging from inspirational change-makers, teachers, peacemakers, artists, scientists, ballet dancers and more who have defied expectations, cared about others, stood up for what’s right and done things that people sometimes aren’t brave enough to do.

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One of my favourite things about this book is just that… it’s the VAST ARRAY of people who are covered in this book. It’s not just scientists, it’s not just atheletes, it’s not just this or that… it’s a whole host of things. It’s boys seeing that they can be whatever they want to be: they don’t have to be the things that society chooses for them. Just look at this contents page of names and you’ll see some familiar names, some names you know of and some names you know nothing of. Books like this are great for introducing kids to new faces. 

As soon as I saw there was a ballet dancer, I did a PROPER cheer. I think boys need to know that there’s no boundaries in their lives. Everything they want to do, they can do. Boys can sometimes be a little afraid of choosing careers they see as “girly” because of a fear that they’ll be judged, so seeing that made me feel SO BLOODY HAPPY.

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I think another thing about this book that just made my heart jump with joy is that it is gorgeous and interesting to look at. It’s got a very 60s/70s feel about it – bright colours, beautiful illustrations – and this will be something that gets kids to pick it up. There’s brilliant chunks of text to consume – it’s not going to be intimidating for kids.

Another thing I love about this book is these quotes that run through. These quotes come from the men in question and I think these quotes would make excellent talking points with children: talk about their meaning, how they apply to today’s society… anything that gets kids talking about being kind and fair in today’s world works for me!

I could keep going. I think books like this, not just this one, are much needed in the world. I’m currently plotting how we can use this book as inspiration for our own biography unit in Year 5… I’ll get back to you on that one once I’m sorted!

Have you got a favourite person from history?
What’s your favourite quote from history?
Who do you think we should talk about more?

Talk to me! I’d love to hear your thoughts!

S x 

Ollie’s Magic Bunny Blog Tour

Happy Tuesday!

Today I have the utter joy of hosting author Nicola Killen and we’re getting a tour around her studio. I’m really nebby so I absolutely adored reading this post when it dropped into my inbox! 

Ollie blog tour

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Hello and welcome to my studio tour!  This is the place where I worked on the story and illustrations for Ollie’s Magic Bunny.  

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I share a space with two other artists – it’s a converted garage on the side of a photographer’s studio.  The door to the studio is very grey and boring so it’s hard to imagine what’s inside!

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Tada! Here’s my workspace. I’m quite embarassed to be showing you round when it’s SO messy.  I’m always untidy, but when I’m in the middle of working on a new book (like I am now), it gets even worse!  As you can probably see, I’ve got two desks: one for sitting at my computer, and one for standing at when I draw and paint.

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On my computer desk I have an iMac, and I use a wacom tablet with it.  I also have a very comfy chair and most importantly, there’s a heater next to my desk!  As it used to be a garage, the studio can get very cold at times. I always have lots of lists of things to do on my desk – I like to be able to tick things off!  

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I usually stand up when I’m painting or drawing.  I have a drawing board in the middle of the desk, which is hidden by my lightbox at the moment.  There’s an A3 scanner tucked underneath this desk, as well as sketches, boxes of books and some portfolios too.  I used to have lots more postcards and pictures up on the wall, but they keep falling down and it’s very hard to reach to put them back up!  You may also have noticed my Studio Stegasaurus which lives on this desk – it roars when you squeeze it. I’ve had the anglepoise lamp since I was at school so it’s lasted a long time!

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This is all the brushes, dip pens and inks which I’m using for the book I’m working on.  

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Then, squeezed into the corner, is my bookcase.  It’s got lots of my books in it, as well as reference, sketchbooks, paperwork and some of my childhood favourites too!

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I’m not sure I should show you this photo! When I opened the cupboard, I was worried that everything was going to fall out . . . It’s chock full of materials, inks and paper. Tidying it is on my lists of things to do!

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That’s all of my space, but we also share an area just inside the door where there’s a big plan chest with a very useful cutting mat on top.  I store a lot of my artwork and paper in the drawers here. I’m preparing some Ollie’s Magic Bunny themed activities today so have been using the cutting mat – but I will need to clear it up later in case anyone else wants to use it!

Thank you for letting me show you around my studio space – I hope you’ve enjoyed having a look around and sorry about the mess!

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I hope you guys enjoyed that as much as I did! It’s fascinating to see where people work and their process! I’d love to snoop in everyone’s workspaces! Check out my review of Ollie’s Magic Bunny here: BOOK BLOG: Nicola Killen

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour! 

S x 

There’s nothing quite like a good cup of tea…

If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you will know that I am a massive fan of treating myself to a breakfast ever now and again.

In Newcastle, we are spoiled for choice of places to go… but I will ALWAYS go back to the same place. And I recommend that you guys start going too:

Quilliam Brothers Teahouse

img_5374(Look at that cute little tea cup man, and my own pot of tea!)

For those of you who have no idea what Quilliam’s is, it’s a teahouse in the centre of Newcastle and it’s just majestic. When you go in you are handed a menu, but it’s no ordinary menu… it’s a tea menu. There are tens of choices you can choose from (I literally have only breakfast tea, or lately I’ve been having a vanilla black tea which is delicious) and there are teas for ALL tastes. The first time I went I had NO idea what I was doing/wanted, and the staff were MORE THAN HAPPY to recommend and help me make a decision. You get a cute little Quilliams tea cup and your own pot of tea (for someone who was a newbie like me, this was a PROPER revelation… not only was I able to choose from 10s of teas, but I got my own pot of tea!)

Now, I mostly go to Quilliams for breakfast (those of you who follow me on Instagram will see that mostly!) and, as the pictures above show, the breakfast is something that is well worth grabbing. You can get a whole host of different breakfasts: eggs, pancakes, granola, sandwiches, full English. There’s options for those who are gluten free and dairy free too! Just ask the people who work there and they’ll be happy to help. I always get the Eggs Claremont (poached eggs on toast with sausages) without hollandaise sauce. I would recommend this 100%. Everything that comes out looks and smells delicious… I’m just a stick with what you know kind of gal ha! 

Quilliams doesn’t just do breakfast though… 

There’s a MASSIVE range of cakes and treats you can get as snacks! Pictured above is the mini egg brownie, chocolate banana bread and orange cake (gluten free). Recently some friends and I went and we all have pretty different tastes in life, but we all managed to find something to eat AND ENJOY. We all had some food, some cake and some tea. It was a majestic day. The other picture shows the nachos they do on a night time and man… they’re just DELICIOUS. 

If you’re in Newcastle, or ever in the North East, I would completely recommend visiting Quilliams. It’s one of my favourite places to eat and just have a little me time. The vibe is really chill and the staff are always more than happy to help! 

Check out their website here where you’ll find more information about their menu, where they are and other essential information! 

What’s your go to breakfast food?
Do you have one place you ALWAYS go for a little treat?
Can you recommend somewhere for me to go and try out in Newcastle?

I can’t wait to hear what you all think! This wasn’t quite books… but Quilliams is another love in my life! 

S x 

 

S4S – 2018 Must Reads

Helloooo!

It is Sunday again, which can only mean one thing: #SixforSunday!

Continuing on our mission to spread the love of kids lit this month, today we are looking back to last year and the myriad of increidble books that were released! Today’s #SixforSunday theme is:

2018 Must Read Books

So here we are, 6 books that I read in 2018 that I think are MUST READS for anyone. 

2018 must reads

Brightstorm – an incredible adventure over snowy lands, with wolves, inventions and wonderful characters.

Truth Pixie – mental health meets kids lit in this incredible story of the Truth Pixie. Matt Haig can do NO wrong in my eyes!

Pages and Co – you can’t get better than a book featuring other books. I loved Anna James’ debut novel of Tilly and her wonderful bookish life. 

Secret on the Night Train – a surprise in this category, but I adored it. It’s a brilliant book for 5-8s and I think we need more books like this!

The Storm Keeper’s Island – Catherine Doyle’s debut kids novel was magical and EVERYTHING you could need from a beautiful book. I can’t wait for the sequel!

The Lost Magician – this book was another bookish book. I adored every page of it!

Don’t forget to share your must reads from 2018 with me! Use the hashtag #SixforSunday! Let’s get the world talking about kids lit! Celebrate the books that came out last year that we love. 

See you next week for 2019 must reads!

S x 

Books I Want To Read tag

Hello everybody!

Today, I’m going to be doing the Books I Want to Read tag, which I found on my friend Amy’s blog. When I read it, I knew it was something that I’d like to tackle – it’s not often I think about my TBR!

The Rules

• Link back to the original tag
• Complete the questions with books you want to have read, but don’t want to read
• Tag some people at the end to do the tag next.

Question One: A book you feel you need to read because everyone talks about it

SO MANY THO. I’m not a big fan of hype, so if EVERYONE is talking about a book I am so much less likely to pick it up… until the hype dies out!

Question Two: A book that’s really long

Length is one of the reasons I don’t wanna often pick up books! Strange the Dreamer is one that does slightly intimidate me – it’s not in reality THAT long tho haha. It might need to be one that I buy on my kindle.

Question Three: A book you’ve had on your bookshelf or TBR list for far too long

I’m quite good with my books. If I’ve got them/bought them and not read them within like 6 months (haha) I generally just get rid of them. So A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy is probably the books I’ve had the longest that I’ve not got round to reading (Kelly, if you’re reading this, I promise I WILL get round to them!)

Question Four: A book that is ‘required reading’ (e.g. a school text or popular classic – something you feel obligated to read)

Well… my answer for this is THUG – it’s neither a school text OR a popular classic, but EVERYONE IN THE WORLD has read it apart from me. SO I should probably get on it… I’m just scared!

Question Five: A book that intimidates you

Priory of the Orange Tree. I started it and read quite a chunk for when I interviewed the brilliant Samantha Shannon, but then once the event was done my brain has just been like OMG I CAN’T PICK THAT THING BACK UP THANKS.

Question Six: A book you think may be slow

Genuinely no idea… I don’t think about books as being slow?!

Question Seven: A book that you need to be in the right mood for

Cuckoo Song. I’ve heard MANY things so I know that I’m going to have to be in the right mood to read it.

Question Eight: A book you’re unsure you’ll like

Legendary! I read Caraval and it just didn’t spark my love. I’ve been dubious about buying/getting the next ones because I just don’t want the disappointment of the first book to happen again!

Having now done this, I could’ve used the same 3 or 4 books for all of the questions haha!

I’m not going to tag anyone, but feel free to do this if you see fit!

S x

Half term reading

One of my favourite things about half term is:

HOW MUCH READING I GET DONE

Like seriously, a week of (avoiding doing a lot of work) reading is absolute bliss. I don’t hold back. I read a book, then pick up another, then another, until I inevitably can’t pick up another because I have to just get on with doing some of the work I’ve avoided. 

I thought today I’d share some quick reviews of the books I got through this half term! More than happy to share more thoughts if you wanna know more – just ask! 

Capture

These are in backwards order – The Climbers was the last book I finished during half term.

The Climbers – MG
Lonely Alma longs to explore the lush forest beyond her narrow town, but her uncle has told her it’s full of fearsome beasts. One night, she ventures into the trees and finds a frightened bear cub. The two become friends but the rest of the town is not so welcoming. Soon, Alma and Star Bear are forced to set off in search of a place to call home.

A lovely tale of friendship in all its guises! Beautifully illustrated page after page. Some lovely messages about being kind to animals and people alike. A good step up from picture books, but not chapter book length!

Boot – MG
When toy robot, Boot, wakes up at a scrapyard, it has no idea how it got there and why it isn’t with its owner, Beth. It only has two and a half glitchy memories, but it knows it was loved, which means something important to humans. Boot is scared but tries to be brave, which is hard when its screen keeps showing a wobbly, worried face. Luckily Boot meets Noke and Red – other ‘advanced’ robots who have learned to survive in secret. With new friends by its side, Boot is determined to find Beth and the gang set off on a dangerous adventure. Everything Boot thought it knew about the world is changing and things aren’t as simple as it remembers . . .

This is fun, friendship and finding yourself. I loved Boot and his bunch of merry robot friends! Imagine waking up one day with only 3 memories and a sense that you need to get home! Boot needs to find his way back to Beth and to himself. I chuckled a lot at this!

Viper – YA (full review to come)
Seventeen-year-old Marianne is fated to one day become the Viper, defender of the Twelve Isles. But the reigning Viper stands in her way. Corrupt and merciless, he prowls the seas in his warship, killing with impunity, leaving only pain and suffering in his wake. He’s the most dangerous man on the ocean . . . and he is Marianne’s father. She was born to protect the islands. But can she fight for them if it means losing her family, her home, the boy she loves – and perhaps even her life?

Pirate assassins? Magic? Brilliant main character? A dad who is TRULY the worst? Absolutely yes. I adored Bronn and Grace with all that I am. Marianne deserves like the rest of her life to just chill after what she’s been through, but she’s definitely going to have more adventures. I can’t wait for book 2. I really really enjoyed this.

The Girl Who Speaks Bear – MG (full review to come)
Found abandoned in a bear cave as a baby, 12-year-old Yanka has always felt out of place in her small village. When she wakes up to find that her legs have become bear legs, she sets off into the forest to discover who she is, on a journey that takes her from icy rivers to smouldering mountains, with an ever-growing group of misfits alongside her… Interwoven with traditional stories of bears, princesses and dragons, Yanka’s journey is a gorgeously lyrical adventure.

Storytelling at its very finest. Brilliant characters, beautiful worlds, exciting adventures and powerful messages. I just adored this. Yanka is a character that kids and adults will adore, and relate to! You can’t beat a bit of finding yourself and your people (or animals) with a good bit of story woven together. Just bloody brilliant.

Malamander – MG
Malamander is told from the perspective of Herbert Lemon, the Lost-and-Founder of the Grand Nautilus Hotel, who tries to unite objects that have been left at the hotel with their owners. Other characters in the story include Violet Palma, who is lost and needs to be found, and the eponymous Malamander, who controls people’s dreams.

A brilliant adventure set in a small (if not a little creepy) seaside town. I loved the friendships and the hints of magic and folk lore in this book. It’s a wonderful mix of science, fantasy, adventure and friendship: along with a few secrets and a mysterious fish. Bloody marvellous.

The Burning – YA (full review to come)
New school. Tick.
New town. Tick.
New surname. Tick.
Social media profiles? Erased.
There’s nothing to trace Anna back to her old life. Nothing to link her to the ‘incident’. At least that’s what she thinks … until the whispers start up again. As time begins to run out on her secrets, Anna finds herself irresistibly drawn to the tale of Maggie, a local girl accused of witchcraft centuries earlier. A girl whose story has terrifying parallels to Anna’s own…

This book is INTENSE. But in the BEST WAY POSSIBLE. It’s hard to read, it’s gritty, it’s history and now. It’s girls arguing, it’s online shaming, it’s history repeating. Betrayal, lies, secrets, fresh starts, friendship, honesty. Just bloody magnificent.

Starfell – MG 
Willow Moss, the youngest and least powerful sister in a family of witches, has a magical ability for finding lost things – like keys, or socks, or wooden teeth. Her magic might be useful, but it’s not exactly exciting . . . Until, that is, the most powerful witch in the whole of Starfell turns up at her door needing Willow’s help. A whole day – last Tuesday to be precise – has gone missing. And the repercussions could be devastating. Can Willow find the day to save the day?

A great story about accepting things about yourself you might not see as useful; learning the power of teamwork; the joy of magic and friendship. I really enjoyed this! Some gorgeous touches of characters, magic, names and places. This will go down well with my Y4s/5s!

The Truth About Keeping Secrets – YA
Sydney’s dad is the only psychiatrist for miles around their small Ohio town. He is also unexpectedly dead. Is Sydney crazy, or is it kind of weird that her dad-a guy whose entire job revolved around other peoples’ secrets-crashed alone, with no explanation? And why is June Copeland, homecoming queen and the town’s golden child, at his funeral? 
As the two girls grow closer in the wake of the accident, it’s clear that not everyone is happy about their new friendship. But what is picture perfect June still hiding? And does Sydney even want to know? 

This kept me guessing throughout. Really really good. Loved the characters and the storyline. There’s a lot of misleading in this which kept me on my toes.

The Middler – MG (Full review to come)
Eleven-year-old Maggie lives in Fennis Wick, enclosed and protected from the outside world by a boundary, beyond which the Quiet War rages and the dirty, dangerous wanderers roam. Her brother Jed is an eldest, revered and special. A hero. Her younger brother is Trig – everyone loves Trig. But Maggie’s just a middler; invisible and left behind. Then, one hot September day, she meets Una, a hungry wanderer girl in need of help, and everything Maggie has ever known gets turned on its head.

I adored every single minute of this – it is completely unputdownable! You will fall for Maggie 100%. I loved the adventure and the messages in this – stand up for what you believe in, work with your fear and be kind.

No Big Deal – YA (full review to come)
Meet Emily Daly, a stylish, cute, intelligent and hilarious seventeen-year-old about to start her last year at school. Emily is also fat. She likes herself and her body. When she meets Joe at a house party, he instantly becomes The Crush of Her Life. Everything changes. At first he seems perfect. But as they spend more time together, doubts start to creep in. With her mum trying new fad diets every week, and increasing pressure to change, Emily faces a constant battle to stay strong, be her true self and not change for anyone.

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

As you can see I had a VERY varied half term filled with EXCEPTIONAL books. I would recommend ALL of these! Some of them are out now, some of them were proofs the publishers very kindly sent me! 

What have you recently?
What’s the best book you’ve read recently?
Do you love to spend your time off reading? 

Talk to me, let me know your thoughts on any of these books if you’ve read them, or if you want to know anything else about any of them! 

S x