The Lover Book Tag

Hello!

Massive welcome to my Thursday Tag! This week I’m taking on something a little different. My wonderful friend Andrew did this tag, which was created by the wonderful Vicky over at Vicky’s Reads, and he has challenged me to take it on. So here I am taking on… (if you’d like to see Andrew’s answers, check out his post here on Vicky’s blog!)

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Before I get started on this mammoth tag, there are just a few rules if you want to take part in this tag!

  1. Give credit to the creator (that would be ME!)
  2. Tag 5 friends
  3. HAVE FUN!

Now… I’m not the biggest Taylow Swift fan, but she has some banging songs… so let’s get on with this!

I Forgot That You Existed
A book on your TBR that you’d completely forgotten about

So so many! Nothing really springs to my mind, but having had a look, The Matilda Effect is on that list! It sounds like a book right up my street, so I’m not sure why I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet (because you forgot about it Steph, duh!)

Cruel Summer
A Perfect Summer Read

I hate this question so much. I’m not great with “summer reads” or even winter reads. I just wanna read all the books all the time. I even in my notes haven’t answered this question…

Lover
Your Favourite Book/Series

It would be criminal of me not to say The Sin Eater’s Daughter because that series truly is one of the best series I’ve ever read. I miss Twylla so much. As a MASSIVE series reader (I’d rather get invested in series than only read standalones), I have SO SO MANY series that could go on this list. As for MG books, you can not get any better than Who Let The Gods Out? series by Maz Evans. They’re just bloody brilliant.

The Man
An Amazing Female Character

A character I’ve fallen massively for this year is Emily from No Big Deal. Emily is me at 17. I read that book very much with a “omg this is me” kind of thing. It’s weird being seen and heard in a book, so I massively appreciated coming across Emily. If you’ve not read No Big Deal yet, please do. It’s such an incredibly important message and it’s proper good. (Plus Bethany Rutter is a BABE)

The Archer
A book from your childhood because you never grew up

This is another one I could’ve had many many answers for because I have ALWAYS been a reader. I don’t know anything but how to be a reader. I loved Matilda, Charlotte’s Web, The Secret Garden, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe as a kid. I think I’d love to relive these stories again and again.

I Think He Knows
A book everyone knows you love!

Lol, I think this is OBVIOUSLY going to be Mel or Maz. Any of the Mel books, any of the Maz books. I love them both.

Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince
A book that makes you so sad, you could paint the town blue

Again… there’s so so so many. However, I can not get this question and not mention Countless by Karen Gregory. I read this book maybe a year and a half ago and still now thinking about it makes me emotional.

Paper Rings
Your favourite OTP

Man. Another thing I love reading for. If you give me a series I love and a ship I can truly ship, you’ve got a series I would die for. Sorrow/Luvian, Kaz/Inej and Amani/Jin are my faves.

Cornelia Street
A book that lived up to the hype

Had I not had everyone shouting at me about Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom, I never would have read it… and let me tell you that was WORTH EVERY BLOODY SECOND and every second after. Just an amazing duology.

Death by a Thousand Cuts
A book that saying goodbye to is death by a thousand cuts, so you just have to re-read it again

My series loving heart has found a few series REALLY BLOODY hard to say goodbye to. Saying goodbye to WLTGO was a THING. Saying goodbye to Amani and Jin broke my heart, but I really think that saying goodbye to Twylla will always be one of the hardest things. I would LOVE an update on how she’s doing. I love her so.

London Boy
A book based in London

I’ve not got round to reading them, but I own the A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy, which is set in numerous Londons!

Soon You’ll Get Better
A book that brightens up your sky

God, there’s so much MG that just makes my heart so happy. I have to give a massive shout out to Anna James and her Pages and Co series though. I’m part way through book 2 and I just think it is one of the most beautiful and wonderful things in the world.

False God
A book that you could reread over again because it still does it for you, babe 

I’m not a massive rereader (as people who are long time readers of this blog will know), but I have reread Matilda numerous times. I just worry that the second time I read it I won’t love it as much as I did the first time!

You Need to Calm Down
An LGBTQ+ book you’d GLAADly recommend

Lol, this prompt is so clever. Good work friends. Simon vs The Homosapiens Agenda is the first thing that jumps to my head for this… it’s an obvious choice, but it’s lush. I saw the film before I read the book, but that didn’t spoil it for me at all!

Afterglow
It’s Not the Book, It’s Me (A book that wasn’t for you)

Freshers. I just couldn’t get away with it. It made me more mad than anything. I don’t talk about it often. Loads of people loved it, but I just… yeah.

ME!
A Character You Relate To

I’ve already mentioned one character I relate to massively, Emily from No Big Deal. But I’d also like to give a shout out to Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron. It was so lovely to read about a similar situation that I had experienced… a character who had to live a “secret” relationship.

It’s Nice to Have a Friend
A Character You’d Love to be Friends With

LOL. This is going to be another predictable answer if you know me. But Izzy O’Neill is my gal. I wanna be her, I wanna be her girlfriend, I wanna be her friend so much.

Daylight
A book that you weren’t sure of at first but turned out to be amazing!

The Smoke Thieves. It’s slow initially, but it’s really good. I read the second one earlier this year and I really enjoyed it!

Bonus: Favourite Taylor Swift Album

I don’t really have one? Im not a big enough fan to have a favourite album. Sorry to the TSwift fans out there!

And there you go! Phew… what a mammoth task that was!

I’m not going to tag anyone, but if you wish to have a go, please do!

S x

September in books

Hello there everyone!

How are we doing? Happy October to you all!

Now, I’ll be honest with you, I’m not a massive fan of this time of year because I do NOT like the dark mornings and dark nights. Plus, I am NOT a fan of Halloween. So you know… if we could just skip October and go to Christmas time, that would be LUSH! 

I’m here today to share the books I got reading in September! I was very surprised that I managed to read as many as I did… although I am VERY sad I didn’t read any YA. I’m hoping October will change that!

In September, I:

Got back to school
Was tired every single day
Studied The Day The Crayons Quit with my class (and loved it)
Mourned the loss of the sunshine and the light mornings
Discovered my love for illustrated chapter books 
Got to introduce my new class to some brilliant authors
Read 9 books

I only read MG books, so I guess that’s where we’re starting (and ending!)

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I had an awful lot of fun with these stories in September. Meeting new characters and new settings, being reacquainted with some favourites and discovering some wonderful new authors! This is a gorgeous mix of books which would cater to new readers and established readers. 

The Battle For Perfect Review
Reviews of illustrated chapter books

Reviews for Amelia Fang and International Yeti collective to come next week: watch this space!

And that’s it. Fingers crossed I read more YA in October, but I’m very much enjoying reading whatever it is that I want! 

HOW AM I DOING FOR MY BOOK CHALLENGES?

GOODREADS CHALLENGE: 114/52
#52BOOKS CHALLENGE (JUST KIDS BOOKS): 59/52

This was short and sweet, but thanks for stopping by! Talk to me in the comments!

How did you do with your reading in September? 
What were your stand out books from last month?
What are you still dying to read from this year?

What would you recommend me from your 2019 reading list?

S x 

A-Z of me! (part 1)

Hello one and all!

After the success of my A-Z of Back to Schools posts (see part 1 and part 2), someone suggested an A-Z of me post! I thought this was a great idea. For new followers, long time followers and everyone in the middle, I’m going to try to give you the A-Z of me. See this as an insight into me!

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A – Auntie Spot

Ha. An interesting one to start with, but quite a big part of my life! My goddaughers, Ruby and Poppy, and my godson, Joey, call me Auntie Spot and they’re the absolute lights of my life. I feel so bloody lucky that I have them in my life. My cousin Kate (their mam) is one of the best people in my life, so any time I get to spend with them is just the best.

B – Books, books, books

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I guess this one is quite predictable. I am SURROUNDED by books. I wouldn’t have my life any other way though. I think books are important and necessary in the world. If my blog didn’t give that away, then I might need to rethink this whole blogging thing, ha! I’ll not rabbit on too much about this one!

C – Colouring in

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One of the things I do when I’m most stressed/anxious/sad/whatever is colour in. I find it’s great for just switching my brain off and it’s just really relaxing. I’m not a fan of colouring in pictures, more a fan of colouring in patterns. If they’re geometric, that’s even better. A good set of felt tip pens, Youtube and a colouring book is what I need when I’m at my most stressed!

D – Dreams

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There’s so many things I’m doing now that I never even dreamt that I could do. I chair events; I talk about books every day; People read what I have to say; I get to teach in my very own classroom. Some of these things were just pipe dreams a few years ago, some of these things weren’t even dreams because I didn’t know they were possible. I’m a firm believer in following in your dreams. If you want something bad enough, you’ll get it… you’ve just got to work for it.

E – Emotional

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If you know me in the real world, you’ll know that I’m very in touch with my emotions. I’m not afraid to cry. I’m not afraid to be happy. I’m not afraid to express myself. I feel every emotion quite deeply. I love hard. I fall hard. I cry hard.

F – Finishing books

This might seem like a strange one, but this is something I am quite stubborn with. If I start a book, I am DETERMINED to finish it. I always think that books can redeem themselves, so I worry if I give up on a book that it’s not going to get the chance to redeem itself. I think there’s like 3 books in the past 3 years that I have DNF’d. I just don’t believe in DNF’ing books! I also think that just because you’re not enjoying a book at a certain point in your life, doesn’t mean you’ll never enjoy it. I’ve found myself reading a few chapters of a book and then just putting it down with the idea that I will come back to it.

G – Geordie extraordinaire!

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Being a Geordie is a BIG part of my identity. I’m awfully proud to be a Geordie. I’m often told that I don’t SOUND like a Geordie because everyone has this stereotypical impression that we go round saying, “whey aye man” and things all the time. We do say them… just not all the time. I love being from the North East… I just wish it weren’t so far away from EVERYTHING ELSE. All the best things come from the north: Ant and Dec, Geordie Gifts, the Great North Run and me!

H – Holidays

Now… I am A BIG FAN of a holiday. I love my time at work, but man I’ ready for a rest when it comes to holiday time. More so than just being off work, I love GOING on holiday. I haven’t been on holiday for a while, but my gosh, give me the sunshine, an unlimited supply of drinks and a massive pile of books and there you have my perfect idea of a holiday. I’m not a big sightseeing kind of holiday gal, but I’ll do a day or two!

I – Inspirational quotes

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It might seem cheesy to some people, but I love a quote. I think it’s nice to know that you aren’t alone; that you’re not the only person who has ever gone through the thing that you’re going through. They crop up occasionally on my Instagram feed and it’s really reminiscent to look through and think “Woah, yeah that’s how I felt at that time, but I don’t feel like that any more”. They’re not for everyone, and some people really hate them, but I love them!

J – Journeys

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Life’s full of journeys. However, I mean literal journeys here. I love going places. Discovering new places is a great joy in life. More than that, I love the ACTUAL journey. Give me a train/car/bus journey of more than 10 mins and I’m a happy happy gal. Journeys are where I do the biggest chunk of my reading and I love that!

K – Kids

Yes, I want my own kids. Yes, I feel like a bit of a failure because I haven’t got my own kids yet. I also know that I have 30 kids every day (well 5 of 7) who rely on me. Whenever anyone asks me if I have kids yet (eyeroll, you should never ask someone that question), I always say I have 30. Now THAT gets some interesting reactions! I’d love to be blessed with my own kids one day because being a mam is one of the things I’d love most in life… but for now, my 30 kids at school keep me on my toes enough!

L – Laughter

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Something people comment about me most often is my laugh. Ask anyone who has met me, my laugh is one of the most notable things about me. I’ve been told it’s one of the best sounds on the planet. I have a big laugh and I love it.

M – “Miss”

Being a teacher is a massive part of my identity. It’s probably too big of a part sometimes, but when you’ve chased a dream for as long as I had, you’re allowed to. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher since I can ever remember. It was something I’ve wanted since I was about 6 or 7. I didn’t have the traditional route into teaching. I didn’t do my GCSEs, then my A Levels, then go to uni, then qualify. I did my GCSEs, did my A Levels, wasn’t ready for uni and worked full time in a shoe shop (which I adored). The time came though that my dream needed to be chased, so I became a TA in my school. A few years later, my dream was shouting at me. I didn’t go to uni til I was 25. I was determined to qualify before I was 30 and I did. I made it with 6 months to spare. Hearing those 30 kids say “Miss” every day might be irritating (trust me), but it reminds me that I’ve made it. I’ve got a lot to learn, but I’m doing it now.

And there you go! The A-Z of Me (part 1). Part 2 will come next Monday! I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about me!

Have any of these things surprised you?
Have you learned anything about me?
Is there anything you’d like to learn more about?

Let me know in the comments!

S x

S4S – Books I read at school

Hello #SixforSunday crew!

How are you all doing today?

What is going on in your worlds? It’s a cold and wet day here in Newcastle! The perfect day for snuggling up with a book and not facing the world. A perfect day for thinking about books in lots of capacities! The perfect day for today’s #SixforSunday prompt:

Books you read at school

Now I could cheat here becuase I read books at school EVERYDAY (being my job and all), but I’ll play fair and go for books that I genuinely remember reading myself! I don’t know what it says about me, or my education, but I struggled to recall more than a few… I had to do some serious thinking to recall the rest… hence all of the plays mentioned!

  1. Goodnight Mister Tom
    I remember reading this VIVIDLY. We did a whole thing around WW2 and there are some really vivid memories I have around this time. I’ve not read this book since school (not all the way through anyway), but I think I’d love to revisit this sometime!
  2. Nineteen Eighty Four
    Our GCSE literature book was Nineteen Eighty Four and guys, I absolutely adored it. I just thought it was fascinating. I don’t know anyone else who studied it for GCSE, so it feels lovely to have done it! 
  3. Charlotte’s Web
    I remember that we used this book and rewrote the story from the perspective of one of the other characters. I don’t remember which character I chose, or what I wrote though!
  4. Othello
    If I remember correctly, we studied a different Shakespeare play every year, but Othello was one of the ones that I loved the most. 
  5. Macbeth
    I think we were in Year 8 when we studied Macbeth. I remember having an exam and the question was about Lady Macbeth’s demise and another question about who was to blame for the death of Banquo. 
  6. A Midsummer Night’s Dream
    I remember studying this and making loads and loads of notes about it and then we didn’t even have a question that I wanted to answer on the exam.

My memory clearly isn’t very good! We did a lot of poetry in secondary school too, but I don’t recall anything well enough to name it ha!

Thanks for stopping by! Remember to tag me, or if you’re joining in to use the hashtag #SixforSunday so I can see your post!

WHILE YOU’RE HERE… I HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT THE FUTURE OF #SIXFORSUNDAY.

Now, I’d love to start a twitter chat using the #SixforSunday prompts. I used to join in Sunday YA and I absolutely loved it, so I’d love to do something with #SixforSunday. It’d be a really cool opportunity to talk to authors and fellow bloggers (and joiner in’ers of S4S) about the prompts that week. It would probably happen on a Sunday late afternoon/early evening (6pm UK time) and there’d be questions based around the prompts, or even based on specific books.

WOULD THIS BE SOMETHING YOU’D BE INTERESTED IN?

I’d love to know if you have any other ideas about how we can keep #SixforSunday evolving and make it even better than it is now! I really respect your opinions and would love to know your thoughts!

See you next week for the start of our October journey: Autumn feels!

S x

Why do you read so many children’s books?

Hello friends!

You’ve clicked on a blog post with a question as the title, so I guess you want to know my reasons behind the question. Well, settle in for a little lesson in Why Steph reads Children’s Books and Some Recommendations.

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Well… this all stems from the fact that I read this book by Katherine Rundell recently, and it made me think. It made me wonder why more people DON’T read children’s books. Let’s be honest, they’re BLOODY MARVELLOUS. If you’re reading this blog post, or if you’re a frequent reader of my blog, you know that I think this about kids books. They’re a big part of my life and not just because I’m a teacher and a blogger. I’d read kids books even if I weren’t those things. If you’ve not read the book below, please go out and purchase it for yourself – it’s a short essay about why you should be reading children’s books… even if you’re an adult.

So why do I read children’s books? Here’s 9 reasons, with some recommendations to get you started!

They are really fast paced

Adult books can be SO SO SO SLOW. You get half way through and nothing has happened. If you read a children’s book, within the first few pages something has happened and you’re RIGHT into the action.

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They’re INTERESTING

Kids books are filled with stories which are interesting. They’ll open your world up to experiences you’ve never had before. They’ll show you places you’ve never been. You’ll meet characters you’ve never met before. They keep moving and keep evolving as you go.

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They have BEAUTIFUL covers

We all love a good bit of shelf appeal and some of the most gorgeous covers in the world are in the children’s book industry. Adult books can be very boring, but step into the children’s section and you’ll get some gorgeous covers which will make you swoon.

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They’ll make you think

I love reading a children’s book that brings up some interesting talking points. There’s a whole host of things that children’s books can make you think about. Books create a wonderful platform to open conversations about being kind to the world, kind to each other and kind to yourself.

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They’re really bloody well-written

Theyre wonderfully formed stories. They’re complex. They’re stories within stories. So gorgeously sculpted that there’s a true artform to it.

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They teach empathy beautifully

You’ll live life through the eyes of people you’ve never had the experience of before. You’ll meet characters and have your eyes opened to how the world is lived through their eyes. You’ll fall in love with voices and personalities that you might not experience not reading kids books.

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They are gorgeously rich in language

Pick up any children’s book and you’re instantly reading books which are so rich in vocabulary and language that you’ll come across words you may never have come across before.

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There’s such a WIDE range of stories and formats out there

Whether you want something in this world, in a fantastical world, a murder mystery or a magic book. If you’re after a graphic novel, or an illustrated chapter book, you’ll find books of all types for all kinds of readers in the world of chapter books.

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You’ll be seen

Children’s books have A LONG WAY to go in with this, but there is some wonderful representation out there in children’s books. Characters of all races, sexualities and religions are being written about and that’s important. The more books we read about characters of different backgrounds, the more publishers will realise there’s a NEED and a WANT for books like this.

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There are so many other recommendations I have for these different things, but I had to restrict myself. If you want to know more about any of these books, or want more recommendations, please just let me know and I would LOVE to chat with you! Also, most of these books are chapter books, but if you want picture book recommendations, I can do that!

And there you go… the reasons I think eveyrone should be reading children books!Not an exhaustive list of reasons or recommendations, but just some of my favourites!

Do you read children’s books?
Why do YOU think people should read children’s books?
What’s the best children’s book you’ve read recently?

Let’s get this conversation started and get it going so more people branch out and read children’s books… I think they’re just mint.

S x

 

Back to School Book Tag

THURSDAY TAG DAY IS UPON US ONCE MORE.

I’m taking on the Back to School Book Tag today. I KNOW I KNOW. I’m late. Please forgive me. I saw this on my friend Amy’s blog recently and thought I needed to take that on… so here we go!

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English – Name your favourite author’s (or book’s) writing style

I don’t wish to be predictable in this here tag (lol, lbr, I’m predictable af), but I can’t beat Melinda Salisbury’s writing style. It’s just gorgeous. She is the QUEEN of worldbuilding in my eyes. PLUS… she gave the world the god that is Luvian Fen, so who am I to complain?

Maths – A book that made you frustrated

This again might be one that you might all guess that I’d say, but Caraval. EVERYONE was like “It’s going to be the next Night Circus” (and I LOVED that book) and then it just wasn’t. I’ve put off reading the rest of the series because book 1 frustrated me so much… I just wanted more!

Science – A book that made you think

This was a hard one because I think there’s a lot of books that I read which make me think. However, I’m punting for They Both Die At The End and Scythe because of their dealing with the issues of death. I read both of those books and they left me thinking “What would I do in those situations?” Knowing I was going to die, what would I do with my time? Who would I spend it with? That’s one of those eternal thinking points for me from these books and I don’t think I have an answer for myself yet!

Social studies/History – Your favourite book from a different time period

I am a MASSIVE fan of a book from World War 2. You don’t get many YA books (well, that I know of) from that time period, but there’s a good chunk of MG books out there from that time period and I am ALL ABOUT THEM. Shout outs to Hitler’s Canary and Letters From the Lighthouse though – loved both of these!

Art – Your favourite book with pictures

ALL OF THE PICTURE BOOKS. Gotta love a David Litchfield illustration, or, of course, an Oliver Jeffers illustration.

Drama – A book you would love to turn into a movie

SO MANY and yet SO FEW at the same time. I don’t want what I know and think about a book RUINED because it is poorly made into a film. However, I would love The Sin Eater’s Daughter trilogy to be made into a series of films. I bloody love Twylla.

Music – name a character you think (or know) would have the same musical taste as you

This is another one that’s hard because I don’t really know. However, I think Emily from No Big Deal might be the one I go for. She’s got a very diverse music style and I like to think that I do too. So maybe her?

Lunch – A food you would love to try

All of the yummy food that’s mentioned in the Sam Wu books. I ALWAYS read them and want to try the foods straight away.

Bus ride home – A book or author that is relaxing

LOL. I don’t know that I read books that are relaxing. However, I’d go with something that I can get lost in and instantly Kiran Milwood Hargrave and Sophie Anderson’s books jump into my mind. PLEASE. Oh, and Alice Broadway. A story I can get lost in is relaxation to me.

Extra credit – A book someone else told you to read and you ended up enjoying

I think if everyone hadn’t shouted about and made me read Six of Crows, I wouldn’t have known how much I bloody love Kaz Brekker and his crew… so thanks everyone!

And there we go! If you’d like to have a go at this, please do!

Speak to you tomorrow!

S x

 

BOOK BLOG: Helena Duggan

The Battle For Perfect: a creepily perfect ending!

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“Things have quietened down in the town that used to be Perfect. But stories reach Violet and Boy of five missing scientists. And then they discover something odd in the forest outside Town – a mirror maze hiding a huge castle. Creeping inside, they overhear a terrible plan – a zombie army is about march on Town. Can Violet and Boy save their friends?”

Anyone who has read my blog in the past will know that I am a MASSIVE fan of the A Place Called Perfect series by Helena Duggan. I raced through book 1, devoured book 2 and then when it came to book 3… I was SO NOT READY TO SAY GOODBYE that I savoured every moment. 

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For those who don’t know the series, it follows a young girl called Violet, who lives in a town called Perfect. There’s been a lot of goings on in Perfect, from brothers who try and take over, to child snatchers and all sorts. It’s Violet’s job to try and save the day. With the help of her friend Boy, she manages each and every time to save the day. These books are a wonderful mix of creepy, adventure-filled and filled with gorgeous description. 

I’d waited a long time for book 3 to come out. Once I’d read book 2, I was ready for book 3. In Battle for Perfect, we get the next installment in the series. Violet and Boy need to face off against some of their biggest, and meanest, and closest, villains. With zombies galore and some wonderful science on show, it’s up to Violet and Boy to try and save the town from once again being taken over by scheming wrong-doers. 

One of the things I love most about these books is that they’re just a little bit on the creepy side. They’re not so creepy that they give you nightmares, but they’re just on that balance between spine tingling and normal. I read this book with a slight fear in me. The whole series has been the same, like it could be really bloody scary, but it’s just the right amount of creepy. I mean eye plants??? 

Another of the things that I love so much about this series is Violet. She’s bloody wonderful. She’s a great main character to read. She’s bold, brave and a little bit scared. In Battle for Perfect, she shows that she just wants to be the best friend she can be with Boy, but she doubts things that she should be doing. I think it was lovely to see, once again, that it’s Violet and her friends that are coming to save the day again. Perfect wouldn’t be the place it is if it weren’t for Violet! In Battle for Perfect, you get some lovely reappearances from some familiar faces. Violet has her very own crew of super sleuths who are on hand to help save the day. I mean, I would need a MASSIVE band of super sleuths to try and take down an army of zombies. (I’d be rubbish at it to be honest…)

This book, like the previous 2, was the perfect mix of being fast paced, some wonderful characters and being back in the world that I love (despite the fact it creeps me out). I’m so sad that it’s now over, but it was a complete and utter ride! Shout out here to Karl James Mountford for the cover illustrations and the illustrations inside… they’re definitely a series of books that are BEAUTIFUL to look at! 

On another note… my kids are LOVING book 1 in this series and I already have a waiting list for the two copies of the book we have! I’m loving seeing them all getting lost in Violet and Boy’s world! 

My Goodreads review:

Bloody brilliant. It was a brilliant way to say goodbye to this series. Jam packed with science, zombies, the characters and the world we know and love! I’m gutted this series is over, but their ending seems more than closure.

And just like that, it’s all over. I hope you enjoyed this review!

Can you recommend me some scary/creepy books?
Have you read the Perfect series?

Talk to me, I’d love to know your thoughts!

S x 

A-Z of Back to School (part 2)

Hello everyone!

Last week, I posted the first half of my A-Z of Back to School post and this week it’s time for the end of that post! I had such a lovely reception to last week’s post, so I hope you all enjoy this one just as much. (I’m well aware we are WELL into the swing of things, but I really wanted to share these!)

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Here we go…

N – Noticing change

Now, this could be anything from how much taller your class from last year seem to be, to changes around school. There’s always a lot of things that change over the SUmmer (it’s 6 weeks – you’d expect some things to change!)

O – Overpreparing and not needing it

I don’t know if this is just me, or if it’s everyone. I always overprepare for that first week. I have so many activities ready to go, but then I end up not needing them. I think it’s hard to pitch things at first, so there’s always too much to do and that’s OK. I have an activity that I’m still waiting to do 3 weeks on (it’s not an essential activity, just something a little fun).

P – Picture books aren’t just for EYFS

One of the things I love doing the most is using picture books to inspire writing. As a Year 5 teacher, this may be looked upon with scorn, but there’s a fair few of my writing units based on picture books. I use them not just for writing, but for inspiration for everything. I think people can forget that within picture books there are some amazing stories. I think picture books should have a place in every classroom up and down the land, no matter how old the class are!

Q – Quick toilet breaks

Man… going to the toilet whenever you please is such a luxury that Summer Holiday Me doesn’t realise. Those first few weeks back are all about retraining your bladder to only go to the toilet at break time/lunch time and after school. It’s a real thing.

R – Reading a whole new bunch of books

Another lovely thing about getting into a new year and a new class is that their tastes might be entirely different to the class you just had. My new class love a scary story, whereas my class last year weren’t that keen on them (or at least never expressed that they were). I’m loving finding new books and new authors that I’ve never really delved into before.

S – Stationery

WELL YES. Do I need to explain this one? I love a bit of stationery and a new year is the PERFECT excuse to have to get some new stationery. I think teachers fall into 2 categories with stationery: obsessed or non-plussed. I am definitely the former. Even as a child, there was nothing more exciting than going to Stationery Box and Woolworths (man, I miss those places) and getting my pens, pencils, rubbers and stuff for the year ahead. Stationery, like books, is just one of my loves!

T – Turning the alarm back on

BOOOOO. This is always the worst. You’ve had 6 weeks of not having to get up via an alarm (or however long you’ve had without an alarm) and now here we are, alarm time again. It’s not fun at first getting up to the sound of your alarm… *weep*

U – Using my favourite stories again

I can’t wait to get to use my favourite stories again. I’ve just done a unit of writing with The Day the Crayons Quit; we’re moving on to doing Journey by Aaron Becker next. I bloody love being a teacher and using books. It’s something I could rabbit on about for words and words.

V – Venturing into the unknown

This year I have more responsibility than I have done in previous years and that’s a new thing for me. I don’t really know what to expect. It’s my first year as a qualified teacher when we are expecting Ofsted, which is again something I’ve never experienced before. These things are all TERRIFYING and thrilling… most of the time.

W – Working differently

I think as every year passes there’s things that I’ll start doing differently. For all I’ve worked in school for 10 years now, I’ve only been a qualified teacher for 1. I passed my NQT year this Summer and I’m an RQT this year. I think with a new bunch of kids, a new bunch of responsibilities and a new outlook on teaching (and its politics), I’ve got a few things I’m changing.

X – EXtra responsibility

Lol, I’ve mentioned this 3 times in succession now! So, I’m PE lead, MFL lead, Library lead and one of school’s Maths Mastery lead teachers. That’s a lot to have on my plate, but you know what? I’m someone who loves a bit of responsibility. I love a challenge. Don’t get me wrong, there’s days I’ve felt a bit overwhelmed and worried that I’m not going to do a good enough job, but I know that I’ll put my heart and soul into these roles. If I’m not the right person for the job, then I’m sure I’ll find that out too!

Y – Yes, Miss!

It’s those lightbulb moments that make this all a bit more bearable on the days when it’s just a challenge. I love watching a child who DOESN’T understand something just click and when they do get it, there’s the inevitable “YESSS” moment. That’s always a lush lush touch.

Z – Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Getting back into work is EXHAUSTING. I love my job; I work with an incredible bunch of people; my kids are wonderful, but my lord is it exhausting. Going from living life at your own pace to having to be FULL ON is a lot. So yes, I’m tired. I’m always tired ha! (I imagine you’re either exhausted or have had enough of hearing about being back to school now, so congrats for getting through this post ha!)

And there we go! My whole A-Z of being back at school. I really enjoyed doing this! I hope you enjoyed reading this!

Let me know if there’s anything else you’d like to know the A-Z of… I might make this into a series!

See you tomorrow!

S x

S4S – Characters I’d love to be friends with…

Hello friends!

Happy Sunday to you all! How are you on this grey, chilly Sunday in Newcastle?

We’re here for another #SixforSunday post I guess! Today we’re talking about something which I love thinking about:

Chracters I’d love to be friends with

Now, let me get this straight, I was one of those people at school that had a wide range of people who were nice to me. I had a close knit group of friends, but everyone else just got on with me. I was a teacher’s pet, I studied hard, I always put my hand up in lessons. No one hated me, no one particularly loved me… I just got on with everyone. The characters I’d love to be friends with are not necessarily ones who would choose to be friends with me, ha!

  1. Izzy O’Neill – The Exact Opposite of Okay/A Girl Called Shameless
    I say this every time I can. I love Izzy: she’s cool, witty and brave. She’d make me laugh an AWFUL lot.
  2. Emily – No Big Deal
    I’d love to be Emily’s friend because I think teenage me could have learned a lot from Emily. She’s not afraid to stand up for herself and be who she is… teenage me was not always that!
  3. Sorrow – State of Sorrow/Song of Sorrow
    I think she’s one of those brilliantly clever young women in the world and that’s the kind of young women teenage me would’ve loved to be around. Also, she seems like she could do with a hug occasionally… and I give good hugs. I’d like to just be her friend so I could be around Luvian also though.
  4. Leora – Ink/Spark/Scar
    I love that Leora is afraid but always brave. I love that she stands up for what she knows is right, even if it means things happen to her that aren’t great. Plus she lives in a wonderful world.
  5. Storm – The Extinction Trials
    I would NOT survive being sent to a dinosaur land, but I would love to be a friend to Storm and maybe get to give it a go! She’s brave and bold… 2 things I’m not always!
  6. Helen – Oh My Gods
    I mean who WOULDN’T want to be friends with someone who has the Greek gods in their family?!

And there you go: 6 fictional characters I would LOVE to be friends with (well, teenage me. It might be weird if adult me was friends with these brilliant young girls!)

While you’re here… I have a question about the future of #SixforSunday.

Now, I’d love to start a twitter chat using the #SixforSunday prompts. I used to join in Sunday YA and I absolutely loved it, so I’d love to do something with #SixforSunday. It’d be a really cool opportunity to talk to authors and fellow bloggers (and joiner in’ers of S4S) about the prompts that week. It would probably happen on a Sunday late afternoon/early evening (6pm UK time) and there’d be questions based around the prompts, or even based on specific books.

Would this be something you’d be interested in? 

I’d love to know if you have any other ideas about how we can keep #SixforSunday evolving and make it even better than it is now! I really respect your opinions and would love to know your thoughts!

S x

BLOG TOUR: The Deathless Girls

Hello one and all! 

Today, I come to you with a post for the blog tour of The Deathless Girls by Kiran Milwood Hargrave. As long time readers of this blog will know, I am a massive fan of Kiran’s children’s books, so when I heard she was wrting her first YA book I was ABSOLUTELY BLOODY DELIGHTED. Fast forward to an email the publishers sent me about being on the blog tour, I was over the moon. I am here today with a review which does Kiran’s sheer wonder no justice!

The Deathless Girls: delicious, fierce and dark. 

(forgive my shoddy camera work, I wanted to show you all the gorgeous gold foiling!)

“Seventeen-year-old Lil and her twin sister Kizzy are brutally snatched one night, taken far from the travelling community they so love. Their abductor is the cruel Boyar Valcar who sells them to a castle kitchen where they are forced to work as slaves. Lil befriends fellow slave Mira, a girl she’s inexplicably drawn to, and the pair comfort each other, drawing strength from their friendship to help cope with the awful situation they have been put into. She learns of the mythical Dragon – a creature which is rumoured to accept young girls as gifts.”

The Deathless Girls is one of those lovely stories that comes along telling an untold story. Telling the story of Dracula from a different perspective, The Deathless Girls tells the story of twins Kizzy and Lil, who are travellers awaiting their time. Their time of divining that will allow them to learn all about what is to come for them: their time to learn their fate. Everything seems to go a bit awry and tragedy really does come after the twins. When they’re kidnapped and taken by Boyar Valcar, they’re made to work in his castle and he lords over them. This all changes when they start hearing whispers about the so-called Dragon: a mysterious man who takes girls as his gifts. What will become of our girls? 

Now, let me preface this review with a thing: I’ve NEVER read Dracula. It’s one of my mam’s favourite stories, but it is one I have never got around to. Don’t let this put you off because reading this I didn’t need to know much about the story of Dracula. You could read this as a fan of Dracula, or, like me, not know that much about it at all (except for there’s a vampire).

One of the things I loved most about this book was that despite the sheer darkness that seeps through the pages, it’s a story about female friendship, hope, love and loyalty. The sisters go through a lot and they never give up. They meet some incredible characters along the way who help them to see they’re brave and fierce. I wanted to be friends with a lot of the women in this story. A girl can never have too many good friends. The sisters go through a journey of discovery through the book, like we all do. We all learn about ourselves and its that journey that makes this book really gorgeous. It’s dangerous and it’s dark, while at the same time being light and hope. It’s learning and it’s trying to forget. It’s standing out while trying to hide. 

One of the things I love most about Kiran’s books is the incredible way in which she builds a world. Reading Kiran’s books is like stepping into a world you never dreamt you’d visit. It’s stepping into beautifully crafted words and an almost lyrical narrative that you get lost in. You might be sitting in a Starbucks, or on a bus, or wherever you are but you’re transported through the magic of words and intention into the world of the castle, of the forest. It’s a world to get hooked on before you even realise you’re hooked. It’s so rich and detailed. It’s so beautifully done that you want to be there (I mean without the scary vampire thanks).

I think what stood out to me about this book was the lack of Dracula himself. The women in the story are the important characters and that in itself shows how wonderful this book is. Books which celebrate women and our strength, determination, compassion and love for one another need to be shared. You go into this book for what you think is vampires and what you get out of it is a story about how badass women are… even when fear and uncertainty takes away that dogged determinedness. 

A gripping tale about the fierceness of love, sisterhood and fear. Haunting, dark and fierce!

My Goodreads review:

Man, Kiran continues to just write belter after belter. This is brilliant. A telling of the life of the sisters in Dracula. A gripping tale about the fierceness of love, sisterhood and fear. Haunting, dark and fierce! As someone who knows very little about Dracula, I was worried I’d get lost, but I didn’t at all. Whether you’re a Dracula fan or not, this is WELL worth a read!

The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave is out now, published by Hachette Children’s Group, priced £12.99 in hardback.

Kiran Millwood Hargrave author image

KIRAN MILLWOOD HARGRAVE is an award-winning poet, playwrightand bestselling novelist. Her debut novel for children, The Girl of Ink and Stars, won the Waterstones Book Prize and the Children’s Book of the Year at the British Book Awards. Her work has been long and short-listed for several other major prizes, including the Costa Award and the CILIP Carnegie Award. The Deathless Girls is her first novel for Young Adults. Kiran Millwood Hargrave is a graduate of both Oxford and Cambridge universities and lives by the river in Oxford with her husband and cat. (Shout out to Luna, the best cat around)

A massive massive thank you to Hachette for sending me a review copy of the book and for inviting me on the blog tour. This book needs to be read by everyone – Dracula fans and non-Dracula fans alike! 

Have you read The Deathless Girls?
Are you also dying over that cover?
Is there anyone’s story you’d like to hear?

Why don’t you go check out the rest of the blog tour?

Blog Tour_twitter

S x