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 

Half year in review!

Hello there!

Since we’ve done half a year already, I thought I’d share with you my half year in review! Sharing my fave 5 books for MG and YA with you!

Tomorrow comes my MG books I’m excited for for the rest of the year and next week I share the YA version of that! So many books I’m excited for! 

Books read this year: 84

MG books read this year: 56

YA books read this year: 28

I didn’t realise just how many kids books I had read this year. But Summer is an excellent chance for me to catch up with some YA. YALC is coming, so I need to prepare my brain for much YA reading. There’s a whole host of YA books that I need to purchase and get reading over the summer, so I have no doubt that by the end of August those numbers will both have increased but YA more so.

I read so much MG because I’m always on the look out for new books for school – both for me to use for teaching, but also to add to the school library. 

When I was thinking about what to include in this blog post, I initially went with “top 3 MG and YA books of the year so far” and then when I looked at the sheer amount of books I’ve read so far, I had to change that to top 5. This is HARD guys. I generally LOVE all of the books – that’s just who I am. But here goes… (ask me again for my top 5 in about a week and it’ll probably be different. No regrets. I just love the books)

Let’s start with…

5 favourite MG books I’ve read this year

fave mg

5 favourite YA books I’ve read this year

fave ya

There are SO MANY other books I could’ve included (honourable mentions galore, if you wanna know them ask me! I can recommend SO MANY OTHER BOOKS) and whittling it down to JUST books I’ve read this year (not books necessarily that have been released this year) and only 5 was HARD. 

(If you’re wondering, I read Goodbye Perfect and State of Sorrow LAST year, otherwise they’d be on the YA list WITHOUT a doubt)

So there you go. If you have any questions about other books, these books, anything else first half of the year bookish related, please ask! I am always happy to answer questions!

What have been your fave 5 books of the year?
Are there any books on my top 5 that you’ve not read?

Talk to me! I wanna know your top 5s!

S x

BOOK BLOG: S M Wilson

Exile: new friends, old friends; new enemies, old enemies; same old dangerous dinosaurs. 

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

After surviving on Piloria once, Storm and Lincoln are the obvious candidates to return to the dinosaur continent to test the new virus that should clear the way for human settlement. But they have their own priorities – finding a cure for the plague that’s sweeping Earthasia, and keeping themselves alive.”

For those of you who have been living under a rock, The Extinction Trials is one of those brilliantly excellent series that comes along and kicks you in the face with its brilliance. Last year, the first book in the trilogy (I think?!) was released. The Extinction Trials was our first introduction to Stormchaser and her world – trying to rid their world of dinosaurs. If you’re interested in finding out more about The Extinction Trials, check out my review here BLOG TOUR: The Extinction Trials. It’s actually a little bit different that review – it’s an aesthetic/mood board that the book inspired. You should DEFINITELY read the book though

For those of you who have read book 1, welcome to my review of book 2. Yes, hello, I have read Exile and I LOVED IT OK. (I could stop this review there, but I’m sure you came for more than I LOVED IT OK. I love lots of books. That’s probably one of the things you’ve noticed about me. But anyway, less rambling, more reviewing).

So Exile leaves off not long after where The Extinction Trials finishes. Storm, Lincoln and the crew are back in their home land, away from the land of the dinosaurs. Safe. Ish. Life has carried on while they were away – Arta is still poorly, people are still starving, there are still more people than there is land. At the end of Extinction Trials, Storm makes a very brave decision which benefits those siblings who are left behind. She’s kind of bending the rules; she’s been brilliant. Things start to change for Storm. She ends up getting a new job, which obviously leads her to going back to Piloriaback to the dinosaurs. Back to the danger, the nightmare. But also back to the colour, the warmth, the dream. (I won’t spoil it for you as to HOW she comes about this situation… but I thought it was an INTERESTING turn of events that made sense! And YAY Lincoln gets to go back with her!)

So here we go again, ready to fight the battle again – dinosaurs, danger and DNA. It’s always dinosaurs and their DNA. It’s always dinosaurs and their death. 

I absolutely loved being back on Piloria with these characters again. I didn’t realise how much I missed these characters until I started reading again. It’s so wonderful when you read the second book in a trilogy and you remember what you loved about them so much. I very much have that about Storm and Lincoln. I remembered their stories. The things these kids have to go through for their government are astounding. I just think I don’t know what I would do. The assortment of dilemmas thrown at them through the book are eye-opening. Would you choose to kill dinosaurs? Would you do anything to save your sister? Would you rescue the families of the people you watched die? Would you go to a VERY dangerous island with your estranged father? (I know what I would do, and it would not be noble. I am much too duty bound)

I absolutely loved seeing Blaine again. He was one of the things I loved the most about book 1 so getting to see him again in this book made me so happy. (I clearly have something about that kind of character – the man left to survive on the island. The Explorer from The Explorer was one of my favourite things about that book too!) Adding new characters, new dynamics, new relationships to the mix meant there was another level of risk, danger and love in the mission this time. There’s daughters and fathers, old friends and new friends, enemies and friends. Add in new emotions and new people to a mission that some have already been on before and you’re bound to have some frought tempers.

Another thing I absolutely adored in this book (and in book 1) was that it was JUST THE RIGHT amount of peril. There were moments where I was like OMG NO. DONT DO THAT. SHUSH BE QUIET. THEY’LL HEAR YOU. (I know the characters can’t hear me, that doesn’t stop me though, shush now!) DINOSAURS ARE SCARY GUYS. I mean, I wouldn’t want to mess with a T-Rex. I don’t care who you are. The dinosaur scenes are intense. A lot intense. 

This book is BRILLIANT. I love a good bit of dystopian YA fiction (hello have you met me?) and Susan Wilson just keeps hitting the nail on the head with these books. If you’re looking for a brilliant, brave main character, some danger and beautiful writing, then you’ve come to the right series!

My Goodreads review is SO terrible, I really must work on these:
“SO GOOD. I missed these characters, this world. There’s some new friends and enemies in this book and the plot is woven deeper this time round. Just lush.”

Also, a massive massive cry happened when I saw this… THAT’S ME. I definitely did cry. Me and some of my favourites. Thank you so much to Susan. I will forever shout about these books because they’re WONDERFUL.

Anyway, yes. There you go. Sorry to keep you here so long. Have you bought the book yet? Are you tempted to? Well you should because it’s brilliant. I don’t lie to you guys ever. I wouldn’t. 

Are you tempted to buy The Extinction Trials?
Would you like to follow Storm and go to Piloria?
Do you have a favourite dinosaur?

Let me know in the comments or on twitter! I’m always free for a chat – @eenalol!

S x

 

2018 Reading Challenges

Welcome to 2018! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talk to me! 

S x

BLOG TOUR: The Fandom

Two blog posts in one day? Aren’t you guys lucky!! AND another GIVEAWAY. A MG and a YA giveaway in one day? OH I SPOIL YOU.

The Fandom: brilliant, clever and original!

Fandom

“Cosplay ready, Violet and her friends are at Comic-Con.

They can’t wait to meet the fandom of mega movie, The Gallows Dance. What they’re not expecting is to be catapulted by freak accident into their favourite world – for real. Fuelled by love, guilt and fear, can the friends put the plot back on track and get out? The fate of the story is in their hands…”

Imagine the scene… you’ve gone to a convention, seen your favourite movie star and then BAM THE CEILING COLLAPSES. You wake up and you’re not quite sure what’s going on. You’ve checked your little brother is OK, your friends are around you. Everything seems to be alrite, except you’re now INSIDE the story. You’re INSIDE the story you’ve been fangirling over for ages. You’re actually THERE. You’re in the world. It’s not fake. It’s real.

That’s what happens to Violet. She and her friends (and her little brother) end up inside their favourite world. What follows is an incredible story with a brilliant cast of characters. Ones I love and adore massively. 

I really, really, really loved this book. It properly hit me in the face with its brilliance. It’s a story within a story and Anna pulls it off brilliantly. I loved the way both stories unfurl in parallel and you see the story of The Gallows Dance (which btw I would totally read if someone wants to write it… Chicken House, get on it), alongside the story of Fandom. You see Rose’s story and Violet’s story pan out side by side. Violet following in Rose’s footsteps. There are some CREEPY bits in this book – the creepy pods? Hello. Made an impression though. It made a massive impression on me this book. It’s properly good. 

The characters are just brilliant. Violet and her merry bunch of friends made my heart very happy. I don’t want to give too much away about the characters because I want you to experience it how I did. There’s Katie though, Katie is EXCELLENT. You’ll probably love her and her swearing. A bit of swearing is always a plus. Made me chuckle indeed. 

The emotions are real with this book. I cried. I laughed. I rooted for people. I was freaked out. I was shocked. You’ll feel ALL of the emotions. I guarantee it. But you’ll LOVE it. I certainly did. 

Plus. Can we just talk about that cover? *swoon*

(Plus, Anna is a Geordie. YAY GEORDIES!)

Alrite, now time for the exciting bit… THE GIVEAWAY. 

Rules: Follow and RT the tweet about this post to be entered. Entries close 12th Jan, winner announced 13th Jan. Extra entry: comment and tell me which film you’d love to be thrown into!

While you’re here, check out the bloggers for the rest of the tour and make sure you go check them out! Some of my most favourite people are on this blog!

Fandom blog tour banner

S x

Letter to: 2018 me.

Hi Steph,

It’s January 1st. I’ve a cup of a tea and I’m writing this letter to you. I know you’re going to be a bit stressed this year and you’re going to have to make some hard choices. Think back to this time last year: you hadn’t written your dissertation yet; you were on the SCITT course but you hadn’t started; you were blogging but not sure what direction you wanted to take it; you knew you had dreams you wanted to follow, but were unsure how to follow them. Now I’m here January 1st 2018 to tell you that putting your mind to things will get them done.

I’ve not bothererd with resolutions because we both know if you were going to change it, you’re stubborn enough to change it then and there. I may not have resolutions, but I do have things for you to think about, for those times you’re having a rough day. 

Keep following your dreams: it’s going to be hard. You’re going to have rubbish lessons, you’re also going to have brilliant lessons. There’s going to be times you don’t want to write that stupid 6 page lesson plan, and you don’t want to do this or that… but all of these things will ensure you achieve your dreams. You’ve come this far and you know this is what you’re meant to do. Teaching is the one thing you’re destined for. You’re born for this. So keep going. Don’t give up because it’s hard; KEEP GOING because it’s hard. It’s hard because it’s new. It’s scary because it’s new. It won’t be new or hard or scary once you’ve done it a few times. Trust me. I’ve done new and scary and hard things in 2017. They’re OK. You’re OK.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes: you’re so scared of doing things wrong, or making a fool of yourself that you forget it’s OK to make mistakes. You’ve been told on more than one occasion that the kids aren’t afraid to make mistakes in your classroom, that they know it’s OK to ask questions and make errors and fix those errors, so be like them. Follow their example. Let the way they feel in your classroom be the way you feel in your life. 

Allow yourself time: whether that’s time to read because your head is so far in a textbook that you’ve forgotten what fiction is like; time to be sad because you’ve had a rubbish day or a rubbish lesson and you don’t know how to make it right; time to breathe because you’re frustrated and don’t know what the answer is. Whatever it is you need time for, allow yourself it. If it’s being happy then be happy. It’s so much easier to get lost in the bad things and the negative things… remember all those lovely things, all the positives. Don’t get bogged down in negative. It’s easier said than done, but try.

Keep blogging and reading: they’re your outlets. Blog because you want to. Blog because it makes you happy. Blog because you’ve found a place in the world where you can talk about whatever you want to talk about and people can choose to read or not. Read the books you want to read. Don’t read what others are reading if you don’t want to. Reading is your escape. It’s looking after your brain. Do what is good for looking after your brain. So what you read 112 books last year? If you only manage 5, that’s 5 more than 0. Blog about whatever you want. Those happy posts are good for the brain. Book reviews are excellent. Whatever it is you want to talk about, blog it. People will read or they won’t. It doesn’t really matter. 

Remember people are there to help: you’re stubborn and don’t ask for help. People will help. If it’s work things, ask the people you trust. If it’s blogging things, ask the people you trust to help. People will help. People are inherently good. They want to help. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. It’s great that you can do lots of these things, but doing EVERYTHING is only going to exhaust you. You’ve gotta let people help.

While we’re on the topic of other people, stop letting what other people (especially the ones who don’t know you or your story) say bother you: the people who love you and the people you trust may say things which hurt, but they’re probably only trying to help. 

Last thing… be kind. Always. Kindness costs nothing. Find time to be kind to yourself as well as others. You’re just as important as them. Kindness matters. 

xx

British Books Challenge

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This is me. The girl who failed MISERABLY at keeping up with the British Books Challenge 2017, signing up again for the British Books Challenge 2018.

I pledge to be better. I will make sure that I link my posts. 
I read British authors excellently last year… most of my books were British authors. I just sucked at linking them! 

For those of you who don’t know what British Books Challenge is, you should definitely check out Chelley’s blog post all about the challenge!

Some of the books I am most excited about reading in 2018: (I’m lucky enough to have read some of them already!)

2018 is going to be an amazing year for YA and MG books! I can feel it in my bones!

S x