“You know books… can I have some recommendations?”

The amount of times I’ve been asked for recommendations over the past few weeks is LUSH. Whether it’s from my kids for what to read next, for parents on what to buy their kids for Christmas or from my colleagues on what to read, it’s all lush to talk books.

Over the next 3 days I’m going to collate 3 different lists for books I’d recommend – be it to read or to buy someone for Christmas!

Today I’m tackling 7+ (ish) recommendations

Tomorrow will be 8+ish and then Wednesday will be YA recommendations! There are LOADS of recommendations out there, I just decided to collate my favourite 10 from the past year (or so)!

If you have a reader who is just starting to read chapter books, or likes the look of illustrated chapter books, these books are brilliant.

2018 recs

Violet and the… series by Harriet Whitehorn

Fabio – The World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective by Laura James

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

The Truth Pixie by Matt Haig

Amelia Fang series by Laura Ellen Anderson

Max – The Detective Cat series by Sarah Todd Taylor

The Wild Robot series by Peter Brown

The Twitches series by Hayley Scott

Sam Wu series by Katie and Kevin Tsang

Horace and Harriet series by Clare Elsom

There you have it! 10 of the best books for Y2+ I’ve read recently. I’d love to know your thoughts! Let me know!

Have you read any of these?
Do you have any recommendations that I could add?
Which of these would you like to pick up most?

Talk to me!

Remember to come back tomorrow for recommendations for books for those 8+ years!

S x

Wrap up time!

This could be wrap up because cold, or wrap up because it’s time for MINI REVIEWS! If you’re here looking for a scarf appreciation post, you’ll need to come back next week *wink*

So… what have I read recently?

Today I’m going to give a wrap up of some of the MG books I read last month! I am loving doing mini reviews at the minute! 

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A Chase in Time – Sally Nicholls

The old gilt-edged mirror has hung in Alex’s aunt’s house for as long as he can remember. Alex hardly notices it, until the day he and his sister are pulled through the mirror, back into 1912. It’s the same house, but a very different place to live, and the people they meet need their help. Soon they are caught up in an action-packed adventure, solving a crime, rescuing priceless jewels, and eating more cake than they have ever eaten before.

This is a brilliant tale of time travel, learning about the past and a bit of doing what’s right! With incredible characters and an engaging story, this book is going down a storm in the classroom! I really enjoyed this! The characters, the historical elements and the magical mirror give it a feel of a classic story. This would make a brilliant read aloud in the class. I am truly hoping there’s going to be a second book!

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Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters – Andrea Beaty

Rosie Revere is no stranger to flops and fails, kerfuffles and catastrophes. After all, engineering is all about perseverance! But this time, Rosie has a really important project to tackle—one that feels much bigger than herself. Rosie’s beloved Aunt Rose and her friends, the Raucous Riveters—a group of fun-loving gals who built airplanes during World War II—need help inventing something new. And Rosie is just the engineer for the job! After one flop . . . then another . . . and another . . . Rosie starts to lose hope. But thanks to some help from her fellow Questioneers Iggy Peck and Ada Twist, Rosie gets the job done. And, along with the Riveters, she rediscovers the meaning of home.

This book is just LUSH. Helping people and having fun is such a brilliant thing to read about! It also has incredible depictions of women and children in engineering, the importance of family and lovely messages about not giving up when something goes wrong. I really REALLY loved this. I think it’d be the perfect addition for any classroom or home library!

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Isadora Moon Makes Winter Magic – Harriet Muncaster

Isadora Moon is special because she’s different. Her mum is a fairy and her dad is a vampire and she’s a bit of both. Isadora loves playing in the snow, especially when her creations come to life! But snow magic can’t last forever. Will she be able to save her new friends before they melt away? 

As a big fan of Isadora Moon (and knowing that the kids at school are) I was very excited to get the chance to read this book! From the incredible cover, to the brilliant illustrations, this book is lots of fun. The short chapters and perfect for younger readers and the back is filled with fun snow-y things to do. The story is fun and the characters are all great. A perfect wintry tale!

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Max The Detective Cat: The Phantom Portrait – Sarah Todd Taylor

Max is ready to solve another case! The entire theatre company have travelled to Lord Fawley’s castle to put on a show for his daughter’s Halloween birthday ball! Rehearsals start well, but soon some ghostly goings-on and talk of a family curse have the actors in a panic. Never fear – Max the detective cat is on the case, and his whiskers are prickling with suspicion that these strange events have more to do with jewels than ghouls…

Having read the first book and falling greatly for Max, I was very excited to read this second book! Yet again Max comes along with the help of his brilliant friend Oscar to save the day. This book is a bit spookier than the first one, with ghostly goings on, missing diamonds and a creepy theatre. It’s perfect for children who are reading shorter chapter books! If you need a heroic cat, look no further than Max! 

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The Boy Who Lived With Dragons – Andy Shepherd

Having your own dragon is magical – but Tomas is also about to find out what living with a dragon is REALLY like. When the fire-breathing kicks in and you get singed every five seconds, it’s like having an unpredictable volcano in your pocket. Learning to train the dragons and keep them out of trouble at school and home will take all Tomas’s creativity and patience … What is more, the dragonfruit tree is starting to look droopy and unwell. Tomas and his friends have got to do all they can restore it to health and uncover its deepest mysteries, as well as trying to work out what big secret local bully Liam, ‘King of Trouble’, has got up his sleeve … One thing is for sure, life is never dull when you have a dragon in your pocket.

This is another one, where I’d read the first book, utterly adored it and it’s gone to school never to be seen again (because the kids are loving it!) Book 2 didn’t fail me either. This is a great sequel to the first book – I really enjoyed this. The young Steph in me loves these books. They’re brilliantly fun capers about the importance of friendship and being kind. With lovely messages about telling the truth and being kind, these books are spot on for Y3+. I also definitely want a dragon now.

Have you read any of these brilliant MG books?
Can you recommend anything similar for me?
Do you enjoy a wrap up?
What’s your true opinion on scarves?

Speak to me! Leave me a comment! Send me a dragon! Send a message through a magic mirror! 

S x

BOOK BLOG: Matt Haig

The Truth Pixie: poetic, charming and inspiring.

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“From number one bestselling author Matt Haig comes a hilarious and heartwarming story, brilliantly illustrated throughout by Chris Mould Wherever she is, whatever the day, She only has one kind of thing to say. Just as cats go miaow and cows go moo, The Truth Pixie can only say things that are true.”

Anyone who has been here for a while will know that I am a MASSSSSSIVE Matt Haig fan (he’s probably one of my most read authors). I’d heard whispers of a new kids book a few months ago and this made me so happy! The Truth Pixie just seems to have shot up on me and come in no time at all, but I am so glad it’s in my life! 

The Truth Pixie tells the story of a young pixie who was blessed/cursed with only being able to tell the truth. She has very few friends because no one wants to hear the truth. Her family don’t want to know her because of her truth-telling, so she lives alone and dreads going out into the wide world. One day, when shopping for groceries, she comes across a troll who changes everything for her. (He’s not a nice troll…)

img_3938(look at that spine man… swooooon)

I think my favourite thing about this book is that it delivers quite a few MASSIVE messages to kids in ways that they’re going to understand. If you’ve ever read one of Matt’s books, you’ll know they’re books that will restore your faith in humanity and this one delivers just that. It has some important messages about being yourself, being sad (and that being ok) and the truth being something that we should embrace. 

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I read The Truth Pixie aloud to myself laid in bed and it’s such a glorious one to read aloud. I might have to reread it a few times before I read it aloud to any kid though – it made me cry, quite a lot. It’s pages like these 2 above that just turn me into a bumbling mess. Adults and kids alike will love this book. It’s written in a beautifully rhyming style that made it so easy to read aloud. It’s going to be a firm favourite for me to use in the classroom – as a story, as a book with a message. The illustrations (by the incredibly talented Chris Mould) are just wonderful too. They add so much to the story. 

This book is a total victory. I will continue to champion Matt Haig books forever. This book is already on its third print run and it’s been out less than a week! 

My goodreads review:

Just incredible. I love the poetic, rhyming style of this book, the incredible illustrations and the absolute championing message of this book. I definitely cried when I read this (aloud to myself, so what of it?) because no one is too old to hear this advice, ever. Off to buy another copy for school.

(And yes, I have bought a second copy for school… one for me, one for school!)

Have you read The Truth Pixie?
Do you also love Matt Haig?
What’s your favourite book to read aloud?

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

 S x

BOOK BLOG: Peter G Bell

Today, I have the utter joy of hosting author Peter G Bell on my blog, talking about the story opening in The Train to Impossible Places. You’ll also get to hear about his wonderful main character, Suzy, and her rationalist beliefs and how these relate to the action of the story and the reader. Hope you enjoy!

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Reason Vs Weird

Most of us would love to discover that magic is real. Imagine if you came downstairs one night to find a trans-dimensional train, crewed by fantastical creatures, waiting to whisk you off to uncharted realms were anything was possible. You’d be thrilled, right?

   This is exactly what happens to Suzy, the main character of The Train To Impossible Places. And she is not thrilled at all.

   On the contrary, she feels positively offended. Because, as an eleven year old rationalist, she knows full well that magic can’t be real, and that trolls can’t exist. The laws of physics are sacrosanct. In short, the train shatters her understanding of the world. How she chooses to deal with that will determine both her fate, and the fate of everyone she meets on her adventure.

   I made Suzy a rationalist because I knew the train and its crew were going to be fairly anarchic and unpredictable, and I wanted a main character who would push back against that. In doing so, Suzy keeps the story grounded, even when she’s out of her depth (which is most of the time) and always asks the questions the reader needs answering.

   When it comes to science, the trolls’ rule of thumb is this: the laws of physics are all well and good, but as soon as they become inconvenient, a dash of magic is needed to help grease the wheels. This is fuzzics (like physics, only fuzzier), and it drives Suzy up the wall. Sometimes literally.

   I’m no sociologist, but I suspect many of our culture’s current problems stem from the conscious uncoupling of reason from the other human faculties; a nasty habit we picked up during the Enlightenment, and which has been indulged to a greater or lesser extent ever since. On the one hand, this culminates in people choosing to dismiss the valid spiritual, philosophical and emotional foundations of so much human experience. On the other, it leads to a suspicion of empirical knowledge, which opens the door to all manner of charlatans eager to present us with “alternative facts”. Neither condition is good for us.

   That’s why, in the midst of all the fantasy elements, I made sure never to undermine Suzy’s belief in science. It is never shown to be untrue – on the contrary, she uses Newton’s Laws of Motion to save herself from danger at one point – but she also discovers that science isn’t the neat and tidy solution to all life’s problems that she thought it was. She is never tempted to reject it, but she does have to expand her thinking beyond it and, to her credit, that’s exactly what she does.

   She makes room in herself for a broader perspective. And that’s what sees her through in the end.

You should definitely check out The Train to Impossible Places! It’s such a great story and the cover is JUST EXCEPTIONAL. 

Massive thanks to Peter for this blog post! I love getting an insight into authors and their characters – authors really do know their characters inside out! 

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Alex Bell

Explorers On Witch Mountain: bursting with new adventures and new friends

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“Stella Starflake Pearl is eagerly anticipating her next expedition. Suddenly disaster strikes when Stella’s father, Felix, is snatched by a fearsome witch. Stella must bring her magic ice princess tiara to Witch Mountain or she will never see Felix again! But no one ever returns from Witch Mountain… 
Stella, Ethan, Shay, Beanie and reluctant Jungle Cat explorer, Percival, set off into the unknown. They will face terrifying bat caves, poisonous apple groves, outraged vultures, argumentative mushrooms and deranged broomsticks in their quest to rescue Felix.”

Explorers on Witch Mountain is one of my most highly anticipated books of this year. It’s the sequel to the incredible Polar Bear Explorer’s Club, which came out last year and blew me away. I have been sitting patiently waiting for this book to be released as I needed it in my life. I got a lovely surprise when the brilliant humans of Faber sent me a copy early and I quickly devoured it (because let’s be honest, it was of course jumping to the top of my TBR list… sorry not sorry to the rest of my books!)

Explorers takes us back into the world of Stella, Felix and their exploring. After my love for the first book, it was so amazing to be back in their world – despite the fact there’s somewhat of a foreboding witch puppet lurking in the attic! (I was not a fan of this witch who is watching Stella… spooky!) 

This new tale is full of adventure – there’s new friends, enemies, people who fall somewhere in the middle; new settings and new gadgets. You will never be bored reading this book because there is a fair share of new things to discover. I absolutely loved the fact that there’s so much adventure in this book. Stella and her friends meet a whole host of new creatures – fairies, witches, flying sharks, frogs and troublesome dinosaurs to name a few. Pair these great new characters with an interesting new setting for Stella to explore with her friends (because OBVIOUSLY Felix has told her she can’t) and you get an excellent story.

While we’re talking about Felix. Oh Felix. I do love him. (My book review notes say “Felix tho <3) He’s such a wise man. He’s just lush. I love reading him as a character. At the end of the book he has some wise, wise words for Stella and I love it. He’s not preachy, he talks to her like she’s someone he respects and I think that’s such a lush thing for kids to read. 

One of my kids has already nicked Explorers from me! I can’t wait for more of my kids to discover more of Alex Bell’s brilliant world. I can’t wait for book 3 – the ending of Explorers leaves the door wide open for a book 3 and I NEED IT. I think it’s going to be excellent.

Kids need to meet this world full of adventure. And they need to meet Stella, obviously. She’s badass, brave and bold – 3 things that kids should all aspire to be! 

My Goodreads review:

A brilliant adventure taking Stella to an island with terrifying teddy bears, witches and witch hunters, poisonous gingerbread houses, and of course, her trusty friends. I love this series. They’re so much more than just adventure stories – there’s a massive punch of meaning. Felix gives some bloody brilliant advice in these books. I utterly devoured this. It’s safe to say I can’t wait for book 3!

Explorers on Witch Mountain is out November 1st, published by Faber Children’s. It is available for preorder now!

Have you read Polar Bear Explorer’s Club?
Are you excited for Explorers on Witch Mountain?
Would you also love to have a pet polar bear?

A massive thank you to Faber for sending me this book! I loved it! 

S x

BOOK BLOG: Tilly and the Bookwanderers

Today I have the ABSOLUTE JOY of hosting Anna James, author of the incredible Pages and Co on my blog as part of her blog tour. She’s here today to talk about her writing soundtrack. 

Without further ado, I hand you over to Anna and that amazing book of hers!

 

My Writing Soundtrack for Pages & Co

I listen to music whenever I’m drafting, but I cannot listen to music with lyrics of any kind as it instantly distracts me and I can’t concentrate on my own words. Instead I listen to a lot of classical music, especially film soundtracks. Here is some of the music I listened to while writing Pages & Co, and the music that most influenced the book.

Dario Marianelli

Dario Marianelli is my favourite modern composer; he wrote the scores for films including Atonement, the Keira Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice, Anna Karenina, and the Mia Wasikowska adaption of Jane Eyre. He writes beautiful, soaring orchestral music that I find instantly get me into the right head space for writing magical adventures. A favourite is Briony’s theme from Atonement as it comes complete with typewriter sounds to really get you in the writing mood.

The Planet Earth Scores by Hans Zimmer

This is along similar lines to Marianelli; the music for these TV series is epic and inspiring, and if I’m ever struggling to focus and to get immersed in the world of Pages & Co I use music like this to stir my emotions and remind me of the power of good art. It helps make the outside world melt away, and encourages you to try and create something worthwhile.

Rabbit & Rogue by Danny Elfman

The first book that Tilly bookwanders into is Alice in Wonderland, when Alice takes her to the Mad Hatter’s tea party, and she visits the Queen of Hearts croquet game later, as well. When I was looking for music to write these scenes too I stumbled across the score from an Alice in Wonderland ballet that had been created, and scored by Danny Elfman that I’d never heard of before. The quirky but lovely music is absolutely perfect to write Alice’s brand of nonsense to.

Soundtracks for existing adaptations

In Pages & Co, Tilly visits several well known children’s classics, and the useful thing about classics is that they’ve often been made into multiple screen adaptation which means there are multiple soundtracks out there. Not all of them are quite right, but I listened to the scores for the recent Alice in Wonderland films, some of the music from the Anne of Green Gables TV series, and even some of the songs from the Muppet version of Treasure Island while I was writing scenes from those books.

The Maze Runner

One of the specific pieces of music that I associate with writing Pages & Co is the finale music from the first Maze Runner film. It’s an urgent, heroic, and beautiful piece of music with real pace and tension and I listened to it on repeat while I was writing some of the scenes towards the end of the book where stakes are high, and Tilly ends up in a dangerous situation in a book she’s wandered inside. I rarely listen to soundtracks all the way through, because they shift and change too much tonally, but I pick and choose tracks to create playlists for different beats; quieter emotional moments, tense action scenes, or cosy bookshop scenes to help me get in the right frame of mind.   

A massive thank you to Anna for such an amazing blog post! I’m off to listen to some of these myself! I love the idea of a writing playlist. 

If you want to see my review of Tilly and the Bookwanderers, check it out here

If you’d like to go and buy this amazing book (you really should, because it is exceptional), it’s out now! 
Amazon
Waterstones

S x

Back To School Blog Blitz

SURPRISE!
It’s Saturday and you’re getting a post… 

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Today I’m taking part in the Back to School Blog Blitz with Bonnier Zaffre to share an extract of one of their books! It’s an MG book billed as “one of the most uplifting, warm and funny novels they’ve published this year: Charlie And Me by Mark Lowery.”

I hope you enjoy the extract! Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

My little brother Charlie’s sitting cross-legged on the floor of the corner shop, humming with his eyes closed. He does this kind of thing a lot.

‘Hurry up,’ I say, giving him a friendly shove with my raggedy old Reebok. ‘We’ve got a train to catch.’

Charlie wipes his nose on his sleeve. ‘Gizza minute, Marty,’ he replies. ‘I’m just charging up the laser in my belly button.’

He says this kind of thing a lot too.

My brother Charlie doesn’t have a laser in his belly button. I know this for a fact. Not that I’ve ever studied it. But if you share a small bedroom with your brother for ten years then you end up pretty well acquainted with his whole body whether you like it or not.

Charlie isn’t like ordinary kids. He’s one in a million. In fact, he’s one in a Charlillion. A Charlillion, by the way, is a number he invented, which is one more than infinity. I tried to explain to him that you can’t have one more than infinity. Infinity means it goes on forever. Charlie called me a banana-brain. He can be very childish when he wants to be.

At poetry club in school, Mr Hendrix sometimes plays a game to warm up. You’ve got to talk about a topic for thirty seconds without stopping or repeating yourself. Here’s what I’d say about Charlie:

‘Lazy eye, massive head, snores like a hippo, often ill, weird taste in food, terrible memory, always out of breath cos of his asthma, weedy, cheeky, can’t do anything for himself or concentrate for more than two seconds, brain’s inside out, no understanding of danger. My absolute best mate in the whole entire world.’

I’d have to stop there. You could talk about Charlie for a Charlillion seconds if you wanted to, and you’d never run out of things to say.

“Thirteen-year-old Martin and his younger brother Charlie are on a very special journey. They’re going to be travelling 421 miles all the way from Preston to the very tip of Cornwall. By train, bus and taxi, they are determined to get there in the end; and they’re hoping to catch a glimpse of the dolphin that regularly visits the harbour there. But is that the only reason they are going? 

It’s a journey that’s full of challenges and surprises. Martin adores his brother Charlie but he’s not like ordinary kids. He’s one in a million. He was born far too early, and ought to have died. And cheeky, irrepressible, utterly unique Charlie is always keeping Martin on his toes – especially on this crazy trip they are now on. Martin is doing his best to be a good big brother, but it’s hard when there’s something so huge coming once they get to Cornwall…”

S x

BLOG TOUR: Storm Witch

Hello!

Today I’m on the blog tour for a brilliant new MG book soon to be released into the world (tomorrow in fact!) – Storm Witch, by Ellen Renner. 

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Storm Witch by Ellen Renner is published on 6th September by Nosy Crow in paperback priced £6.99

“Child of Air, Water, Earth or Fire: now that she is thirteen Storm must undertake The Choosing and be claimed by one of the Elementals, which will determine her whole life’s work. But for Storm, daughter of a father murdered by Water and a warrior mother claimed by Earth, there will be no easy destiny.

The Elementals bestow her with a great and terrible gift. Storm-bringer. Storm-rider. Storm-queller. Storm has powers that no one, not even the island Elders, can understand. And when the Drowned Ones – a savage band of pirates who roam the seas on floating towns – attack her island, will her powers help her to save the people she loves, or is her fate to betray everything she holds dear? Soon Storm faces a decision that will change her life – and that of everyone who lives on her island – forever.”

When I first read the press release for this book I was INSTANTLY TAKEN by “Storm must undertake The Choosing” – THE CHOOSING? MAN. YES. SIGN ME UP. I was very intrigued to know more about this choosing ceremony and what it entailed! (It also got me thinking which elemental I would be… I still am undecided. I think I need some kind of quiz to take to decide this!) What I got was a story that is brillaintly written, with a main character that is stubborn, but loveable. 

Storm Witch tells the story of Storm (our main characterm, the stubborn but loveable one) who is about to turn 13 and is therefore about to go through “The Choosing” – a ceremony in which the children of the island are chosen by one of the 4 elementals. Storm’s choosing isn’t quite as straightforward as those around her… she goes through quite a lot of turmoil, and a few dangerous situations. 

As I was reading this, it came clear that there was an incredible message of the importance of kindness and standing up for what’s right. Storm does something that she knows no-one on her island would do, but she knows that it’s the kindest and right thing to do, so she does it. It means she has to lie, but she’s doing it for good reasons. 

There’s also an incredible sense of community in this book. The depiction of island life was a lush thing to read. Everyone chipping in and doing their bit on the island – it reminded me a little of Moana (which in my books is NOT a bad thing!)

I can’t wait for the next book in this series… despite the fact that book 1 isn’t actually published until tomorrow! Go get your hands on this if you can, I would definitely recommend – there’s magic, danger, community and kindness!

Why don’t you go check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour? Let me know in the comments which element you think you are… and which element you think I would be chosen by!

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S x

Mini reviews: London edition

Last week, I was very lucky to spend time in London with one of my favourite humans in the world, Kelly. While we were in London, we spent much time reading, drinking tea and having a lovely relaxing time – perfect for bookworms like us! 

I thought I’d share mini reviews from the 6 books I managed to read in the 4 days I was away. I love a mini review – bitesize bookish love is always good! 

Book 1:
The Light Between Worlds – Laura Weymouth
Released November 1st from Chicken House

(proof cover!)

I absolutely adored this story – it was pretty unique. There was lots of juxtaposition in this book – the harshness of war vs the freedom of the forest, a need to be in the moment vs a want to be elsehwere – which made for brilliant reading. I adored Ev’s friends and family and I genuinely felt their love for her, but she frustrated me at times. There’s a lot of emotions explored in this book, and there’s some dark themes explored. 

Book 2:
Mr Lemoncello’s Great Library Race – Chris Grabenstein

Again, this was one that I thought was just wonderful. It was good for my brain to go from something quite dark to this library based caper. It is such fun! I would love to visit Mr. Lemoncello’s library and take part in his fun games. I hadn’t read the first 2 of these books before this one, but that didn’t spoil it whatsoever (I have since bought book 1 and 2!). This book is all about sharing the love of libraries, making friends and the power of the truth. I can’t wait to recommend this to the kids at school!

Book 3:
Oliver and the Seawigs – Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

I actually managed to pick this up from Oxfam Book Shop and it’s a good job too, because I finished Mr. Lemoncello quickly so needed a back up book to read! This is a funny, irreverent adventure with a young boy who makes friends with a mermaid and an island (I know right?!) and they have to fight off some baddies. I really enjoyed it, it’ll fit perfectly in our school library! I’d love to pick up more from these authors!

Book 4: 
More Happy Than Not – Adam Silvera

(yes that is more tea!)

When I finished this book I was very much not ok. I’ve been in Aaron’s shoes – wanting to be someone I’m not. I’m so sad for him. I can’t imagine going through what he ends up going through. This book is littered with love and the struggle with accepting who you are. Even now thinking back to this book, I am so sad for him. This book is one I would recommend EVERYONE READS. It is HEARTBREAKING. I didn’t see the twist coming, it shocked me. Adam Silvera continues to write incredible books. 

Book 5: 
Leah on the Offbeat – Becky Albertalli

(hey look at that guys, more tea!)

OH LEAH. I really wanted to love this. Don’t get me wrong, I did really enjoy it. There’s just things about it that frustrate me. I didn’t ship it, which as a serial shipper is a MASSIVE surprise to me, so it made it hard for me to get fully into. Having read Simon, I wanted to just swoon over everything, and I didn’t. I would recommend this book though, it is good. I think there’s a bit of me in Leah and there’s some of Leah’s personality I don’t like… so yeah. I have complex emotions about this book. 

Book 6:
The Friendship Fails of Emma Nash – Chloe Seagar

Friendship Fails of Emma Nash

This made me chuckle a lot. It’s funny and relatable. There were many moments where I cackled out loud. This is a book that teenagers will love. It’s well worth a read if you want something witty. Emma Nash goes through a LOT. 

So there you have it! My mini London reading haul!

Have you read any of these books?
Do you have thoughts about Leah that we can talk about?
Does Adam Silvera continue to break your heart too?

Lets talk!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Kiran Milwood Hargrave

The Way Past Winter: a truly magical story about the importance of kindness – to the world and each other

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“Mila and her sisters live with their brother Oskar in a small forest cabin in the snow. One night, a fur-clad stranger arrives seeking shelter for himself and his men. But by the next morning, they’ve gone – taking Oskar with them. Fearful for his safety, Mila and her sisters set out to bring Oskar back – even it means going north, crossing frozen wild-lands to find a way past an eternal winter”

(This review took me so long to write because it only said “I LOVED THIS BOOK OK?”)

I am a MASSIVE fan of Kiran’s work. Like massive. I think Girl of Ink and Stars is one of my favourite books I’ve read in the past few years. I just can’t get enough, and I’m very lucky in that my class have chosen it as our first class read for September. I can’t wait to introduce them to Kiran’s magical writing and watch them fall in love with it like I did. 

When I heard that there was going to be MORE from Kiran, I knew I needed to get my hands on a copy. I was very lucky in that I got a copy from the publishers (thank you Chicken House!) and it jumped straight to the top of my TBR list (not sorry to the rest of the books on my list). I was at YALC with some friends and I definitely might’ve been a bit anti-social and ignored them to read… but when it’s a book you’ve been waiting THIS LONG for… it’s OK. 

The Way Past Winter is an incredible tale of Mila and her siblings, who live in a world of snow and cold – there’s no Spring where they live. One day, mysterious strangers appear at Mila’s door, looking for shelter. When Mila wakes up the next morning, she finds that these mysterious men are gone and have taken with them her brother, Oskar. There is much debate around Oskar’s disappearance as to whether it is because he was taken or he chose to leave – with Mila believing he wouldn’t choose to leave. Mila goes on an incredible journey to rescue her brother. Her journey takes her to places she’s never been, with people she must learn to trust.

The settings in this book are sublime. From Mila’s cabin, which she lives in with her siblings, to the mystical tree, to the frozen landscapes that Mila must travel over in order to rescue her brother. I read this book in the HEIGHT of heatwave, yet I felt like I was in the sled with Mila, travelling through these icy lands. This book is so immersive, it’s like reading and seeing in surround sound (I don’t know how to word that better, I hope you know what I mean!). I would not survive in these conditions. Not at all. 

The feeling of magic and mythology is something about Kiran’s books that I absolutely adore and this book is yet another where she does it so beautifully. There’s an incredible feel of mythology about this book that I can’t quite put into words. It sings in its lushness – in comparison to the bleakness of the land Mila lives in. 

There’s messages galore in this book that I think are dealt with so incredibly well. This is a story about believing in yourself, being kind to the world around us and trusting that others can do good. 

I couldn’t put this book down. The pace of this book is spot on. It’s not too quick, not too slow – it moves smoothly, but with a hint of haste. I was on the edge of my seat for the majority of my time reading. I needed to know what was going to happen, but I didn’t want to miss any of the little details or the incredible vocabulary. The way Kiran writes is lyrical, beautiful and magical.

I know that 10 year old me would’ve devoured these books and absolutely adored them (almost as much as 29 year old me does). Kiran’s books sit so beautifully in classroom/school libraries because they’re stories children want to read, written in a way which appeals to them. They’re magical and true escapism – we all need a good escape when we’re reading.

And yes, it did make me cry. 

My goodreads review:

Kiran continues to write worlds that are equal parts magical, foreboding and welcoming, with characters who match. I absolutely adored this book – from the mysterious Rune, to fierce and brave Mila, and stubborn and protective Sanna. I just think this book is wonderfully perfect. Kiran never fails to blow me away.

I have so much to say about this book. There are so many things I want to tell you. So much I need you to know. This book just oozes brilliance – from the characters, to the settings, to the meaning. I can’t recommend this enough for everyone. It is just magnificent. 

Have you read anything by Kiran?
Would you survive in a place that had no Spring?
DO YOU ALSO LOVE THIS COVER THOUGH?

The Way Past Winter is out on October 4th, published by Chicken House books.

It is available to preorder! You can preorder Amazon or Waterstones (it’s probably available elsewhere too!)

Follow Kiran on twitter: @Kiran_MH

S x