BOOK BLOG: C.G. Drews

The Boy Who Steals Houses: stealing homes and hearts without a second thought!

img_4936(this is the gorgeous proof copy that the brilliant publishers sent me! For the final cover, check the bottom of this review!)

“Can two broken boys find their perfect home?

Sam is only fifteen but he and his autistic older brother, Avery, have been abandoned by every relative he’s ever known. Now Sam’s trying to build a new life for them. He survives by breaking into empty houses when their owners are away, until one day he’s caught out when a family returns home. To his amazement this large, chaotic family takes him under their wing – each teenager assuming Sam is a friend of another sibling. Sam finds himself inextricably caught up in their life, and falling for the beautiful Moxie. 

But Sam has a secret, and his past is about to catch up with him.”

When I heard that the brilliant C.G.Drews (who we all more famously know as @PaperFury) was writing another bookI needed to get my hands on it. I had seen the cover and heard bits and bobs about it, but I went into it relatively blind and my word. It blew me away. 

Now, we all know I’m quite an emotional reader (I know, I know, SHOCKER) and having read Cait’s first book A Thousand Perfect Notes, I was MORE than prepared for a book that would RIP OUT MY SOUL because that’s exactly what ATPN did to me. (If you haven’t managed to read it yet, you really really should… it is just exceptional). What you get with The Boy Who Steals Houses is sheer brilliance. It’s sharp corners and rounded edges; it’s light and dark; it’s love and hatred; it’s yellow flowers on Summer’s days; it’s bruises and smiles. 

The Boy Who Steals Houses is about young Sam – a very troubled and brilliantly flawed young man, who “steals” houses. He doesn’t steal the belongings, more the feeling of owning a house. He goes into houses to sleep in the beds. He goes into the houses to have somewhere comfortable for the night. He has no interest in stealing the expensive things in the house… he just wants somewhere to belong. For so long he hasn’t felt like he belonged, and that’s what he is DESPERATELY seeking. Sam also has to look after his older, autistic brother Avery. Avery, who constantly causes Sam to worry, is always getting himself into scrapes and situations that Sam feels he needs to save him from. You see through the book the scale of the problem when Sam does something pretty bad to show much he’s willing to protect his brother. Sam does some really bad things, but he thinks it’s because he’s doing it for the right reasonshe wants to protect his brother. It’s his job to protect his brother. There’s definite anger issues going on with Sam – he has a violent streak. I wanted to hug Sam after chapter 1 and I continued to want to hug him throughout the whole book. 

So you have this brilliantly complex and endearing main character, who is just trying to find himself somewhere to stay, and then BAM, throw in a house he thinks is emptywhich isn’t. (When I read this bit, I GENUINELY gasped). He meets an incredible family – the De Laineys – and things start to change. It’s a warm, noisy, chaotic, welcoming family unit, who initially don’t know of Sam’s circumstances. He’s welcomed as a “friend” of one of the boys. You get an INSTANT warmth from the De Laineys. They’re this wonderfully charming family, who of course have their problems. I loved the De Laineys… like A LOT. I don’t want to spoil too much about the De Laineys… but guys, I just love them. There’s so many wonderful scenes between Sam and the different family members that I just glowed. There’s a beautiful scene at the end of the book with Sam and Mr De Lainey that just broke me. I think everyone needs a Mr De Lainey in their life – someone who will accept you for who you are and who will stick by you, even when you do some TERRIBLE things. 

Of course, this is a story and it isn’t ALL PEACHES AND RAINBOWS (although there is a VERY funny scene with glitter that made me chuckle…), there’s some HORRID villains in this book. There’s of course Sam and Avery’s abusive father, who doesn’t deserve ANY space in this review. Then there’s their Auntie Karen, who they end up living with when Dad ditches them. She’s JUST as bad as their dad. There’s Viv – oh Viv. You did a TERRIBLE thing. There’s a moment where something HAPPENS and I was heartbroken for Sam. 

(I realise this review so far has just talked about characters, but guys… I just think it’s something Cait writes so so brilliantly. That’s not to take anything from the plot, because I think it’s a wonderful story, I just need to talk about characters because I love them OK?)

There’s a constant battle in Sam’s head between wanting to be invisible and wanting to be seen. He’s hiding from the police and worries that if he is found, he’ll be taken away and then his brother will have no one to look after him. I feel like we’ve all been there (wanting to be invisible and be seen) in our lives, so it makes Sam relatable. 

The scenes with the De Laineys are some of my favourites in the book. There’s so much colour, so much life, so much food that it’s a barrage on the senses, but for Sam it’s a lovely comparison between the cold, empty, grey life that he lives every night. I loved their influence on his life. There’s so much love, laughter and forgiveness with the De Laineys that you can’t NOT love them. 

This book made me cry. It made me laugh. It made me want to shout. It’s SO SO incredibly brilliant. I can’t wait to see what C.G.Drews writes next.  

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This is the finished cover and I LOVE it so much. Keys play a significant part of this story, as does the colour yellow, so I really appreciated making those links once I’d read it. 

My goodreads review:

Deary me. Sam – what a pickle you find yourself in. This book is just magnificent. I am a crying mess. This book is hard edges and summers days. It’s light and dark. It’s love and hate. It’s everything I needed. The thing that really makes this book is it’s characters. I just adored every single thing. 

A massive massive thank you to Hachette Kids for sending me a copy for review. Also a massive thank you to Cait for allowing me to live DM as I read along with the story – I HAD to talk to someone about this book! 

Check out a Q&A Cait did with herself on her website here: Q&A

Check out my review of A Thousand Perfect Notes here: BOOKBLOG: CG Drews

Thanks for stopping by! Speak to you all soon, I’m off to console myself and have some hot chocolate for my heart!

S x 

BOOK BLOG: S.M. Wilson

The Extinction Trials: Rebel – Tense. Thrilling. Tantalising.

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

Storm and Lincoln’s city is burning. The people are starving. The only place left to run is Piloria, the continent of monsters. It’s up to Storm and Lincoln to keep their people alive as they colonize this lethal paradise. But will the biggest threat to their survival be the monsters in the jungle…or the ones inside the encampment with them?”

Rebel is the third and final book in The Extinction Trials trilogy and my word, I was NOT ready for this series to be over. I DEVOURED book 1 and 2 when they came to me and book 3 was NO different. If you haven’t already read them, THEN WHY NOT? (You might find my reviews of book 1 and book 2 helpful if this is the case!)

In Rebel, we begin with how life is looking for our 2 protagonistsStormchaser, who is living on Piloria with her father, and Lincoln, who is back in Ambulus City having gone back at the end of book 2. The stark differences between the two settings was always something that I loved about these books – Ambulus City was always so grey and dank, whereas you have lushness and colour on the island of Piloria (yes, yes, I know, there’s dinosaurs too!) Things start to go wrong when there’s a bit of a revolt and Ambulus City is burning to the ground. Lincoln, and the people who matter most to him, end up leaving the city on a boat bound for none other than, yep you guessed it, dinosaur land: Piloria. 

There are SO MANY THINGS I loved about this book. I’m going to try and summarise all of my thoughts into concise sentences, but you all know me… it’s not going to happen! I also need to try and NOT be spoilery. (If you wanna know the spoilery thing I loved about this book, then ask me… I won’t ruin it for everyone!)

It’s tense: like there’s some REAL moments of tension in this story. People butt heads, people argue (like you would if you’ve just moved to a brand new island with some of your least favourite people in the world). There’s DINOSAURS threatening your existence. A real thread of built up tension is written beautifully into this story and then there’s a few BOOM moments of fall out. 

It’s touching: seeing the relationships between the characters building was just lush. I have a real soft spot for most of the characters. I was so glad to see some of the old faves back. You see Storm and her dad HAVE to get on with each other. You see them actually LIKE each other and trying to understand each other. You see their relationship blossom into some kind of father/daughte relationship. Friendships, relationships: they’re all explored and it’s so so lush to read.

There’s a REALLY BLOODY GOOD VILLAIN: God, I HATED HIM. I wanted to punch him. But it’s what made him SO SO good. Someone with a CLEAR God complex going on. 

It’s dystopian fiction at its best: like… I BLOODY LOVE dystopian fiction, but this is the first series I’ve come across in a LONG time where I’ve been INVESTED. I love the characters, the worlds, the danger, the peril, the emotional investment. I dare you to read this book and NOT love it. 

Some old faves are back: Aw man. I don’t wanna spoil anything but I did a GENUINE woop at one moment. There’s a very touching moment with Lincoln and one of the characters that really touched me. You’ve gotta look out for the people who mean something to you and those closest to you! I loved that Blaine wasn’t forgotten in this story. I loved him SO much. 

Storm really blossoms in this story: Storm becomes this really empowered young woman. She stands up for herself and for the people and things she loves. She doesn’t seem to be afraid of the Stipulators in this story. She’s developed a real bit of gusto about herself in this story. I REALLY love Storm. She’s brilliant. 

So yeah, I loved this book. I loved this trilogy SO MUCH. I don’t think I can quite put into words how much I loved this trilogy. It ended in SUCH a satisfying way. 

My goodreads review: (lol look at me trying not to be spoilery everywhere)

YES THOUGH. I can’t say too much without being spoilery. But my gosh this was brilliant. It was tense and action packed and interesting and just brilliant. I’d missed these characters and this world so much!

Yes, I managed not to say the spoilery thing. I NEED SOMEONE ELSE TO READ THIS BOOK SO WE CAN TALK ABOUT IT THOUGH. 

If you’re looking for a brilliantly written, fun, dangerous dystopian series with characters you’ll want to read about, then I would whole-heartedly recommend The Extinction Trials. Rebel came out yesterday, so GO GO GO GET ALL 3 AND BINGE. It’s SO worth it! 

Have you read The Extinction Trials?
Do you think you’d survive on dinosaur island?
Are you a fan of a really good bloody villain?

A massive massive thank you to Usborne for sending me a copy of Rebel. I’m so so sad this series is over, but I am so glad it’s in my life!

S x 

 

January in books

Hello friends!

How are we all? Hows February treating you so far? 

I’m here to share with you a round up of my January! Are you ready?!

January was a pretty shitty month for me personally, but now that we’re into February I am trying to move on from the crappy things that happened. Easier said than done, BUT we need to take each day as it comes!

I listened to a LOT of Dear Evan Hansen in January – I would COMPLETELY recommend that soundtrack. It came for me at the WORST of times and got me through a lot of tears. I’m still listening to it now and we’re a month on from when I first found it!

However, among all the shittiness, I did manage to read 11 books! I was CHUFFED when I noticed that. I didn’t think I’d get through that many. (It’s only the 3rd Feb as I write this post and I’ve already read 2 books in Feb). 

Would you like to know what I read? 

jan 2019 ya

YA books:

We are Blood and Thunder – Kesia Lupo*
Proud – Various authors*
All The Lonely People – David Owen
Paper Avalanche – Lisa Williamson
Two Can Keep A Secret – Karen M. McManus

2019 jan mg

MG books:

Against All Gods – Maz Evans*
Sam Wu Is Not Afraid of the Dark – Kevin and Katie Tsang*
Ghost – Jason Reynolds*
Hotel Flamingo – Alex Milway*
Our Castle by the Sea – Lucy Strange*
Call Me Alastair – Cory Leonardo*

(any books with a * were sent to me by the publisher)

How am I doing for my book challenges?

Goodreads challenge: 11/52
#52books challenge (just kids books): 6/52

How did you do with your reading in January? 
What was your favourite read of January? 
What would you recommend me from your January reading list?

Talk to me in the comments! I’d love to know what you’ve been reading!

S x 

An Amazing Blog Tour

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Today I have the ABSOLUTE joy of being part of the Amazing blog tour. I was so incredibly lucky to be asked to host a Q&A with the incredibly brilliant Steve Antony – author and illustrator extraordinare.

As soon as I knew I was doing a Q&A, it was inevitable that I had to get my kids involved, so they helped me write the questions (there were SO many they had, so I had to whittle it down!)

Check out the questions and some brilliant responses from the man himself! 

What’s your favourite thing about going to schools?

Apart from chomping biscuits and nattering with teachers in the staff room, I always enjoy seeing all the artwork that classes have created. Whether it be acrylic self-portraits, cardboard dioramas, character pumpkins or even something as simple as paper snowflakes, I really do believe that art brings a school to life.

Funniest memory of visiting schools?

The funniest moments come during Q&A. Children don’t have filters, do they? The younger the audience the odder the questions. Is the Queen your granny? Are you Ed Sheeran? Why don’t you comb your hair?

Also, being greeted by over 200 children (and teachers) dressed as pandas on World Book Day was something I will never forget.

What memories do you have of reading as a child?

Most of my earliest and clearest memories of reading take me back to my school library. I remember that feeling of being surrounded by hundreds of stories just waiting to be discovered. I was never a fast reader and I preferred books with pictures, I still do, but there was something empowering about just being in my school library. Sadly, many children may never know that feeling, which is why the #GreatSchoolLibraries campaign is so important. The campaign aims to bring school libraries and librarians back to every school in the UK, because every child deserves a great library. You can find out more about the Great School Libraries campaign at: http://www.greatschoollibraries.edublogs.org

I also have fond memories of our public library. That’s where I discovered some of my favourite authors and Illustrators.

Do you remember the first book you read as a child that made you want to write?

Even as a very young child I loved to draw. But it was picture books like Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak and The Munch Bunch (created by Barrie and Elizabeth Henderson and illustrated by Angela Mitson) that inspired me to imagine my own characters and tell stories with drawings.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I believe that inspiration is everywhere, but you have to tune in to it. I like to prove this theory in my story-building workshops. By the end of each workshop almost everybody has an idea for a story, and some even have synopses!

Books are a fantastic source of inspiration, which is why the library is the perfect place to feel inspired. Many of my stories were inspired by something I’d seen in a book, magazine or newspaper.

What is your typical writing routine? From first draft to final draft?

People often think I spend all day writing and drawing, but there’s so much involved in being an author and illustrator. In fact, last week I only spent around 5 hours working on my next picture book because the rest of my time was spent on emails, events, my website, blogs, taxes and marketing. As part of this blog tour, I wrote a ‘Day in the Life’ guest post for Acorn Books, which you might find interesting. https://acornbooksblog.wordpress.com

It takes about 4-5 months to start and finish a picture book. Normally my publisher will select a couple of ideas from my sketchbook for me to develop (this usually happens when I’m at the tail- end stages of finishing another picture book). In order to develop ideas into stories I do need plenty of time and space to breath because I find it hard to tap into my imagination during busy spells. I normally get a gut feeling if a story is working or not. As a general rule it has to feel easy, and if ever I feel like I’m rowing upstream, I let go of the oars. Once I’m happy with my story concept, I move on to character development, pacing and paginating. This can take weeks or months. The very last stage involves drawing the final artwork and tweaking the text, which can take anywhere up to three months.

What’s next for you?

Magic Light Pictures are currently developing the Mr Panda cartoon series, which is incredibly exciting. I’ve got more books in the pipeline, including a brand-new character that I’ve yet to create! The next Mr Panda book, We Love You, Mr Panda, comes out later in the year. I’ll soon be meeting with Swindon Libraries to discuss the next borough-wide art completion (I hold at least one art contest with them per year). Also, I hope to start writing a chapter book soon, but not even my publisher knows that yet! But before any of that happens, I’m going on my honeymoon, because I just got married!

It’s only day 3 of this blog tour and it has already been amazing (no pun intended!). Go check out the other blog posts so far, and watch out for the rest of the posts coming in the next few days! I am so incredibly excited for this book.

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Massive massive thank you to the brilliant people of Hachette Kids for asking me to be on this blog tour and Steve Antony for answering our questions! My kids and I had such a blast, and it’s been a pleasure reading Steve’s answers. I’ll be sharing them with my kids at some point today! 

S x 

BOOK BLOG: David Owen

All The Lonely People: BLOODY BRILLIANT with a bunch of great characters

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“Everyone tells Kat that her online personality – confident, funny, opinionated – isn’t her true self. Kat knows otherwise. The internet is her only way to cope with a bad day, chat with friends who get all her references, make someone laugh. But when she becomes the target of an alt-right trolling campaign, she feels she has no option but to Escape, Delete, Disappear.
With her social media shut down, her website erased, her entire online identity void, Kat feels she has cut away her very core: without her virtual self, who is she?
She brought it on herself. Or so Wesley keeps telling himself as he dismantles Kat’s world. It’s different, seeing one of his victims in real life and not inside a computer screen – but he’s in too far to back out now.
As soon as Kat disappears from the online world, her physical body begins to fade and while everybody else forgets that she exists, Wesley realises he is the only one left who remembers her. Overcome by remorse for what he has done, Wesley resolves to stop her disappearing completely. It might just be the only way to save himself.”

All The Lonely People tells the story of Kat, a teenage girl who ends up being so horribly treated online by trolls that she deletes her entire online presence and ends up “disappearing” herself. It follows Kat’s journey from the initial trolling, through what happens when she deletes her last remnants online and the emotional toll it has on her and those around her.

Kat is treated HORRIBLY by a bunch of boys in school who have a very “anti-women” agenda. They push her so hard that she has already deleted a big chunk of her online presence at the beginning of the story (including her presence in a forum that she is particularly active in) and as the story starts, they are working to try and take over her website. Their plan is to rid the world of women who stand up for women. They’re horrible, horrible young men, influenced by their world which is filled with some HORRID toxic masculinity. I genuinely HATED them. Everything about what they believed and did made me SO CROSS. So cross that I had to send David a message saying “These young men are the worst”. Kat isn’t their first victim, nor is she their last victim. As the story progresses, you see that their next target is someone with a very big presence online. 

As well as brilliantly written Kat, we follow the story of Wes. Wes is, unfortunately, one of these young men who was guilty of trolling Kat to the highest extreme. However, Wes is a BRILLIANT exploration of conscience. He’s done these bad things BECAUSE he wants to fit in. He wants the cool kids to know he’s game for anything. He even goes on to prove this need further on in the book. But, he knows he’s made a mistake and wants to make amends. After making Kat disappear, he’s one of the only people who can sense she’s around and he wants to help her reappear. I really loved Wes. He’s a good kid underneath it all. He wants to be remembered. 

Massive shout out here to Wes’ big brother Jordan. I won’t say too much about Jordan, because spoilers, but he’s brilliant. I proper have a soft spot for him. Initially, not so much, but as the story progresses, you see he’s just looking out for his younger brother and will go to pretty extreme means to do that. 

Another of the characters who end up having quite an impact on the story is a young lady called Safa. Safa has “disappeared” and is set on making it final when we meet her in the story. Her and Kat end up becoming friends and we see their friendship develop as the book goes on. I wasn’t a big fan of Safa initially: she’s reckless and a bit of a dick. But if you give her a chance, she might change your mind. She helps Kat through this world of “the fade” and ultimately ends up being one of the most positive things Kat has in her life. 

(This review ended up turning into a review of characters and I am OK with that! I’m a BIG fan of brilliant characters!)

I think in the technological world we live in today, books like this are going to become more popular and I am HERE FOR IT. This book explored some topics that I think are necessary: toxic masculinity, online infamy and trolling. Something else that stood out for me was the exploration of the difference between our online selves and our “real life” selves – Kat disappears because her personality is all online and it ends up being deleted. It’s an interesting thing to think about: how different is online you to offline you? 

My goodreads review:

So much hatred for some of the males in this story. But so much love for Wes, Jordan, Evie and Kat. I think books like this, ones which deliver a message about being lovely in a world which is always on, are so needed. There’s some HORRIBLE shit that goes down in this story that is so true to online culture today. I just wanna hug Kat and be her friend.

If you’d like to read a Q&A I was lucky enough to do with the author, brilliantly funny David Owen, check it out here. Follow him on twitter @davidowenauthor.

Have you read All The Lonely People?
Can you recommend any books like this?
Do you think you’d like for your online persona to disappear altogether?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments! 

S x 

COVER REVEAL: A Pocketful of Stars

WELL ISN’T THIS AN EXCITING BONUS SATURDAY POST?! 

Today, I have the ABSOLUTE JOY of revealing, exclusively, the cover for one of my most anticipated MG books of 2019 – A Pocketful of Stars by Aisha Bushby. What a cracking way to start 2019!

A Pocketful of Stars promises to be something pretty incredible! Check out the blurb below and scroll down for the cover! 

Can piecing together the past help you change the present?

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

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

A Pocketful of Stars is a story about family, friendship and finding out who you are… with a sprinkling of magic.

 

I mean, WHO WOULDN’T WANT TO READ THAT? MAGIC? FRIENDSHIP? FAMILY? GAMING? GIRLS WHO GAME? WINNING…

So yes, I know, get on with the cover reveal… I’m just keeping you all on your toes!

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DEAR LORD IN THE HEAVENS LOOK AT IT!
THIS IS 100% GORGEOUS. 
*swoon*

Keep your eyes peeled for A Pocketful of Stars, released on August 8th (I know, SO FAR AWAY) with Egmont UK. 

ALSO, check out a post next week where I gave my class the title and the blurb and asked them to design a cover for the book! We had so much fun doing it! 

Massive massive thank you to Aisha and Egmont for asking me to be part of this cover reveal, I couldn’t be happier and more excited to be involved. 

Do you love the cover as much as I do?
Are you excited for A Pocketful of Stars?

Let me know in the comments your thoughts! 

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Jason Reynolds

Ghost: a brilliant tale of grit and determination

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“Running. That’s all that Ghost (real name Castle Cranshaw) has ever known. But never for a track team. Nope, his game has always been ball. But when Ghost impulsively challenges an elite sprinter to a race — and wins — the Olympic medalist track coach sees he has something: crazy natural talent. Thing is, Ghost has something else: a lot of anger, and a past that he is trying to outrun. Can Ghost harness his raw talent for speed and meld with the team, or will his past finally catch up to him?”

Ghost follows the story of a young boy (not Ghost by name, Ghost by nickname) who is going through a lot. He’s fighting a few losing battles. School isn’t great, home isn’t wonderful and he just wants to play ball. That is until he happens upon a track practice and he boldly joins in. What ensues is an incredible Coach, a team who become his friends and some life changing decisions which will shock!

Ghost is a pretty proud young man, dealing with some pretty intense things in his life. He’s bullied, his dad wasn’t a great man, he’s trying to hide who he really is from the world. He’s surrounded by people who have plenty when he doesn’t. He’s a great main character. I think lots of kids will warm to him. He does things wrong, he makes mistakes. He goes from being quite a lonely and troubled young man to a young man with an incredibly diverse set of people around him who believe in him. 

This book doesn’t shy away from some pretty gritty and dark themes. Rather, it deals with them in a way in which is accessible to kids. There’s storylines around bullying, dealing with home issues and stealing – all of which are dealt with brilliantly. I loved the fact that Ghost has to deal with the things he does wrong. He doesn’t get “let off” for any of the things he does wrong. Because that’s life. You do something wrong, there’s usually some kind of consequence. 

There’s one big, massive, shining light in this book and that’s Coach. He’s this exceptional character. He’s selfless, motivating, passionate. I just think he was a proper standout character in this book. He shows Ghost that there’s no point trying to run away from yourself, but that you should accept who you are and embrace it. He shows Ghost that if you do something wrong, you will have to face the consequences. But he’s kind and caring. He cares about the kids on the running team like they’re his own kids. There’s a brilliant scene in a diner between Coach and the “newbies” on the team that I just loved. 

My goodreads review:

This book is gritty, determined and shocking at times. I just thought it was incredible. A gripping story about a young boy who is running from his past and ends up in more trouble. Along comes someone who believes in him and things start to change. Bloody yes. This book is a proper victory.

This book gave me some real Wing Jones feels. Just like when I finished Wing Jones, I finished this book thinking “god, I wish I was a runner!” so that’s something! 

A massive thank you to the brilliant humans of Ed PR and Knights Of for sending me a surprise copy of this! I absolutely adored it. Keep doing the good work you guys are doing! If you want to know more about the incredible work Knights Of are doing, check out their website here and follow them on twitter for more updates. They’re killing the game at the minute and it’s SO incredible to watch!

Have you read anything by Jason Reynolds?
Are you following the amazing things Knights Of are doing?
Has a book ever made you want to take up running?

Talk to me! If you recommend me enough running books, I’ll have to take it up eventually hah!

S x 

 

BOOK BLOG: Lisa Williamson

Paper Avalanche: an absolute punch in the feels

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“When it comes to flying under the radar, Ro Snow is an expert.
No friends. 
No boys.
No parties.
And strictly NO VISITORS.
It may be lonely, but at least this way the truth remains where it should – hidden. Then Tanvi Shah, the girl who almost died, comes tumbling back into her life, and Ro finds herself losing control of her carefully constructed lies. But if Ro’s walls come crumbling down, who’s going to take care of Bonnie…”

A massive thank you to my lovely friend Adele for buying this book for me to cheer me up recently. 

Paper Avalanche follows the story of Ro Snow, a young girl who is having to battle between the world of being a teenager, trying to disappear and her mum’s hoarding. She’s a girl who very much wants to just go under the radar. Everyone knows about the house, which Ro never admits that she lives in, and it is a constant battle in Ro’s life. She knows that if anything were to happen, her mum’s hoarding tendencies could spiral out of control. Ro feels like she’s barely keeping a lid on everything, when suddenly there’s a young man thrown into her life and a best friend who is in her very own way a total whirlwind – one that could potentially make Ro’s world topple down. 

I ABSOLUTELY loved Tanvi and Noah. They brought such an incredible thread into Ro’s life that she had never had before. There’s such a gorgeous flip from how lonely and colourless Ro’s life is before these two show up. Tanvi, the best friend who appears suddenly having been out of school for a few years, brings colour and joy and noise to Ro’s life, a life that she’s tried to live so quietly before. There’s an incredible scene set on Diwali that brought my heart such joy. It was one of those scenes in a story that I’ll remember for a long time. 

One of the things that I loved about this book was how relatable it is. We don’t all have mothers who are hoarders, but we all have something we want to hide from the world. It may be the smallest thing, or the biggest thing, but Ro’s struggles to hide her things from the world is something that we have ALL done. We’ve all been there. Ro struggles a lot with worrying about what people think about her (dear God, I relate) and battles to keep a lid on her emotions at times. She’s a very closed off young woman, who definitely has a lot of anger under the surface. There’s a scene toward the end where she lets this anger out and I was like YES RO. YOU GET THEM TOLD. She has an incredibly complicated relationship with her mum (who she calls Bonnie the majority of the time) and her dad. She feels like she’s the adult in the relationship with her mum, and feels like the forgotten child with her dad. (I’m not a fan of Dad’s new wife FYI). She’s constantly battling with wanting attention from her Dad, while wanting the rest of the world to not see her. 

I loved the exploration of doing things for yourself in this book. Ro discvovers something that she’s really good at and that she wants to pursue. It was lovely to see Ro trying to make her mark, all the while trying not to stand out. (Shout out to Tanvi and Mr Milburn for helping her out! I love reading a supportive teacher role… please can we have more of these in YA) She ends up doing something that makes her happy, but Bonnie turns it into a disaster. My heart BROKE for Ro when I was reading this. I hated Bonnie so much. 

Reading this book made me feel ALL OF THE EMOTIONS. There was joy, sadness, shock, worry, panic, love, laughter, disappointment. You’ll feel ALL of the things. It’s SO WORTH IT. 

Another shout out here to Tanvi’s family. They’re bloody brilliant. So welcoming.  

I’d REALLY love to see this story made into a film. I think it would be BLOODY brilliant. 

My goodreads review:

I am so full of love right now. I’ve gone through them all: anger, sadness, panic, anxiety, love, laughter. This book and its characters are just exceptional. I love the way in which Ro and Bonnie have to deal with this massive problem: their roles reversed, while Ro still has to deal with being a kid. Massive shout outs to Tanvi, Mr Milburn and Noah. Excellent excellent book.

HELLO ALSO. That cover. I ENJOY THAT PINK SO MUCH. Underneath the jacket, it’s just white with pink metallic lettering on the spine and it’s just such a beauty.

Have you read Paper Avalanche?
Do you also love Lisa Williamson?
Have you read anything else by Lisa Williamson?

Talk to me! I am so glad I read this book… in like 3 hours. It was a one sitting book, that’s how good it is! 

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Karen M. McManus

Two Can Keep A Secret: twists, turns and second guesses aplenty!

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“Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.

The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone’s declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.”

Two Can Keep A Secret is the second book by the brilliant Karen M. McManus (author of the incredible One Of Us Is Lying) and my word… if you loved OOUIL, you will most definitely enjoy Two

Two Can Keep A Secret (let’s call it Two for short, cause that’s lots of words to type!) is centred around Echo Ridge, a town where there’s just been so many bad times with young women who are homecoming queens. Tragically, homecoming queens have shown up murdered in the past. There’s a deep dark secret about this town. Ellery and her twin brother Ezra have to move to Echo Ridge, their mother’s home town, after their mother is otherwise occupied. The twins aren’t happy about it, but there is no other choice. When they get to the town, they realise that there is in fact something very mysterious and dark about it and they make it their mission (well, Ellery makes it her mission) to get to the bottom of it!

So in this here book, we have murder, mystery, a main character who loves a good old crime to solve and some brilliant supporting characters. What’s not to love? A town with a history which has been brought back to life…

Two is told from a dual perspective: Ellery and Malcolm. Ellery is one of the twins summoned to live with grandma in Echo Ridge with her brother; Malcolm is the younger brother of the prime suspect of the murder many years ago. These two perspectives were interesting to read from (I was particularly a fan of Malcolm’s perspective) as it kept the story moving without being too much (I struggle with some multi perspective stories!). I loved the dynamic of one of the main characters being a twin. It was a really interesting thing to read. They both just got each other. There’s times when they don’t need to say anything, but they both know what the other is thinking.

There’s one character I was ALWAYS suspicious of. I just didn’t like her. She’s one of the “one the edge” characters. No thanks. If you’ve read this book, I’d love to talk about her. OR who you think I mean! 

Just like One of Us Is Lying, I was CONSTANTLY guessing as to who the guilty parties are, and when it’s revealed, I’ll be honest I NEVER saw it coming. I kind of felt bad for all of the people I had suspected beforehand because it made SUCH sense. I would say at one point that EVERYONE had been on my suspect list. Call me suspicious ha! 

I have to say… THAT LAST LINE THOUGH. Guys… I can’t. I’m STILL not over that last line. I definitely swore at the book when I read it. 

Also, while you’re here, appreciating the book… THOSE SPRAYED EDGES THO! I LOVE a sprayed edge. 

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My goodreads review:

This kept me guessing the whole way through and there were definite moments of “omg I know who it is” and then I was wrong every time. A great story and some great characters too.

So yes. Good book, would recommend for those who like twisty turny books, or anyone who enjoyed OOUIL.

Have you read Two Can Keep A Secret?
Can you keep a secret?
Would you survive in this murderous town?

Talk to me! Let me know your thoughts. I love a book like this! I’ll take your suggestions for what else to read (I would recommend This Lie WIll Kill You by Chelsea Pitcher. That book still gives me slight nightmares!)

S x 

BLOG TOUR: The Fork, The Witch and the Worm

HELLO. It’s me! On a Saturday… I know. You guys are spoiled by me.

Today, as part of a brilliant blog tour, I’m sharing an exclusive extract of the new book, The Fork, The Witch and the Worm by Christopher Paolini.

the fork the witch and the worm cover

“Welcome back to the world of Alagaësia. It’s been a year since Eragon departed Alagaësia in search of the perfect home to train a new generation of Dragon Riders. Now he is struggling with an endless sea of tasks: constructing a vast dragonhold, wrangling with suppliers, guarding dragon eggs, and dealing with belligerent Urgals and haughty elves. Then a vision from the Eldunarí, unexpected visitors, and an exciting Urgal legend offer a much-needed distraction and a new perspective. This volume features three original stories set in Alagaësia, interspersed with scenes from Eragon’s own unfolding adventure. Included is an excerpt from the memoir of the unforgettable witch and fortune-teller Angela the herbalist . . . penned by Angela Paolini, the inspiration for the character, herself! Relish the incomparable imagination of Christopher Paolini in this thrilling new collection of stories based in the world of the Inheritance Cycle.”

Rather excitingly, I have not only an extract from the first chapter to share with you all, but in the next few days my review will also go live! Trust me… for fans of Eragon, this book is INCREDIBLE!

Chapter I

Mount Arngor

The day had not gone well.

Eragon leaned back in his chair and took a long drink of blackberry mead from the mug by his hand. Sweet warmth blossomed in his throat, and with it memories of summer afternoons spent picking berries in Palancar Valley. A pang of homesickness struck him.

The mead had been the best thing to come out of his meeting with Hruthmund, the dwarven representative. A gift to strengthen the bonds of friendly association between dwarves and Riders— or so Hruthmund had claimed.

Eragon snorted. Some friendship. He’d spent the whole meeting arguing with Hruthmund over when the dwarves would deliver the supplies they’d promised. Hruthmund seemed to believe once every three to four months was more

than sufficient, which was absurd considering the dwarves lived closer to the Academy than any of the other races. Even Nasuada had managed to send monthly shipments from the other side of the Hadarac Desert, far to the west.

I’ll have to arrange a talk with Orik and sort it out with him directly.

Just one more thing to do amid a seemingly endless sea of tasks. Eragon eyed the mounds of scrolls, books, maps, and loose pieces of parchment that covered the desk in front of him, all of which required his attention. He sighed, finding the sight depressing.

He shifted his gaze out the large, rough- hewn windows that fronted the eyrie. Rays of evening light streamed across the windswept plains that lay below, surrounding Mount Arngor. To the north and west, the Edda River gleamed like a ribbon of

beaten silver draped across the landscape. A pair of ships lay docked along the nearest bend, and from that docking, a trail led south to the foothills piled about the base of Arngor.

The mountain had been Eragon’s choice— in consultation with Saphira and their traveling companions— for the Dragon Riders’ new home. It was more than that too: a safeguard for the Eldunarí and, hopefully, a nesting ground for the next generation of dragons.

The high, slab- sided peak was a trailing remnant of the Beor Mountains, shorter than those towering giants but still many times bigger than the mountains of the Spine Eragon had grown up with. It stood alone in the green expanse of the eastern reaches, two weeks of slow sailing beyond the bounds of Alagaësia proper.

South of Arngor the land was rumpled like a blanket and ruffled with trees whose leaves shone silver in the wind, bright as the scales of a fish. Farther to the east stood scarps and cliffs and huge, flat- topped pillars of stone crested with piles of vegetation. Among them lived groups of wandering tribes: strange, half- wild humans the likes of which Eragon had never encountered before. So far they had proven no trouble, but he remained wary.

Such was his responsibility now.

The mountain bore many names. Arngor was Dwarvish for White Mountain, and indeed, the upper thirds were clad in snow and ice and— from

a distance— the peak glowed with a startling brilliance amid the verdant plains. But it also had an older, secret name in Dwarvish. For as the expedition Eragon led had begun to settle among the foothills of the mountain, they had discovered tunnels burrowed into the stone beneath, and there in runes inscribed Gor Narrveln, which meant Mountain of Gems. Some ancient clan or tribe of dwarves had sunk mines deep into the roots of the peak.

The dwarves who had joined Eragon’s group had been excited by the discovery, and they spent much time debating who had made the mines and what gems might still be found.

In the ancient language, the mountain was known as Fell Thindarë, which meant Mountain of Night. The elves could not tell Eragon where the name came from— nor the reason for it— so he rarely used it. But he also heard them refer to the peak as Vaeta, or Hope. He found this fitting, as the Dragon Riders were a hope for all the races of Alagaësia.

If that’s not enough to make you want to read on, you should definitely check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour! There’s some brilliant posts! 

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Massive thank you to Ed PR for asking me to be on this blog tour! It’s always such fun to be on blog tours (especially surprise posts on a Saturday!)

S x