Mid Year Freak Out Tag

Hello hello hello!

I saw this tag over on Charlotte’s blog (and I’m sure I did it last year too!) and thought ‘yeah, we’re now in June, that’s the middle of the year, I guess we can do this tag now!’. So here we go… my Mid-Year Freak Out Tag.

The Best Book You’ve Read This Year. 

LOL KAY. I’m going to go like top 3 MG and top 3 YA books I’ve read this year because one is TOO HARD. Sue me.
No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter (YA)
The Art of Being Normal by Lisa WIlliamson
Song of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury (YA)
Rumblestar by Abi Elphinstone (MG)
The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson (MG)
Jemima Small versus the Universe by Tamsin Winter (MG)

The Best Sequel You’ve Read This Year

Again, so many. I’ve read quite a few sequels this year. My faves would have to be:
Song of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury (duh)
The Fandom Rising by Anna Day
A Girl Called Shameless by Laura Steven
Against all Gods by Maz Evans (man, I’m still so sad this series is over)

New Releases You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To. 

LOL. I have SO MANY books that I want to read. However probably the biggest name on my list at the minute is On The Come Up by Angie Thomas (shut up, I know).

Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of the Year. 

Most of my anticipated books were out in the beginning of the year but some of them are still to come, like:
Return to Wonderland by various MG authors
No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter (I’ve read it, it’s exceptional, I can’t wait for the rest of the world to catch up)
A Pocketful of Stars by Aisha Bushby (again, I’ve read it, it’s amazing, it’s going to go down a STORM)

Biggest Disappointment

I hate questions like this, but I do have an answer. I think (like Charlotte) Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus was a let down. After the amazingness of One of Us is Lying, it needed to be brilliant.

Biggest Surprise

And Then I Turned into a Mermaid by Laura Steven. Laura writes incredible YA books, so I was THRILLED to hear there would be MG books and it is just wonderful. It’s hilarious, it’s fun and it’s going down a storm at school.

Favourite New to You or Debut Author

Favourite debuts? Kesia Lupo and Aisha Bushby (her debut novel comes out later this year!)

Favourite new to me? Laura Bates (The Burning is EXCEPTIONAL)

Newest Fictional Crush

Luvian Fen. Forever. Next.

Newest Favourite Character

Jemima Small from Jemima Small versus the Universe by Tamsin Winter. That book is important and it’s wonderful. I will fight for it til the day I die.

Book That Made You Cry

LOL ALL OF THEM. But recently The Art of Being Normal and They Both Die at the End just RUINED me.

Book That Made You Happy

SO MANY OF THE BOOKS. I cry with all of the emotions to be honest. Some faves from this year so far:
Song of Sorrow by Queen Mel (that ending is EVERYTHING I wanted)
The Boy Who Steals Houses by C.G.Drews
Boot by Shane Hegarty (cutest thing ever)
Ghost by Jason Reynolds (Coach is a character who deserves ALL of the praise)
High Rise Mystery by Sharna Jackson (this was SUCH fun)

Favourite Book to Film Adaptation

I can honestly say with my hand on my heart that I haven’t seen any this year so far? I’d like to see Aladdin though!

Favourite Post You Have Done This Year

This is a HARD question. I’ll be honest though, anything that’s personal and comes from my soul to you guys probably gets the trophy. Also, any time I’ve done a mood board also shows that it’s something special. I just love blogging and I will continue to do so for a very long time.

Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year

Do you mean by appearance or by story? Appearance probably Song of Sorrow (dem sprayed edges though) or Circe (that cover is just gorgeous and shiny). Story-wise… ALL OF THEM. 

What Books Do You Need To Read By The End of the Year

There is only one answer to this question: Angie Thomas’ books.

But also… whatever I want? Ha!

What do you think? 
Agree with my thoughts?
Do you fancy trying this? (It’s much harder than it looks… TRUST ME!)

S x

BLOG TOUR: C.G.Drews

YOU GUYS ARE IN FOR A PROPER TREAT ON THIS HERE FIRST DAY OF APRIL. Don’t say I don’t spoil you. AND THIS IS NO APRIL FOOLS EITHER. 

As you all know I am a MASSIVE (and I mean MASSIVE) fan of the brilliant C.G.Drews’ books (as seen in my review of A Thousand Perfect Notes). When her new book The Boy Who Steals Houses was announced, the poor publishers received a VERY grovelly email asking if I could have a copy to review… and they were INCREDIBLE and sent me a copy. Well NOW GUYS IT’S ALMOST RELEASE TIME (in fact… THURSDAY IS THE BIG DAY). I consumed it in a matter of hours and I just adored it – you’ll find my review of the book here (clicky, click). 

9781408349922

Then… astonishingly… I got an email from the publishers asking me if I’d like to kick off the blog tour and I WAS DELIGHTED. 

So here, I am, sharing with you a deleted scene from The Boy Who Steals Houses. This scene originally sat between Chapter 24 and 26, and don’t worry, it’s not too spoilery! 

So sit back, get a cup of tea and enjoy!! 

POTATOES ARE BETTER THAN ROMANCE

(Deleted Scene from The Boy Who Steals Houses)

His attention should be on the knife, on the whorls of potato peels slipping through his fingers. But Sam can’t stop worrying.

About summer ending.

About finally telling Moxie all his secrets.

About Avery boxing himself into a world of sharp corners and dangerous ledges and insisting he can take care of himself. Sam hasn’t checked on him in days. That selfishness twists his stomach like soured lemonade.

Moxie stands next to him as they peel potatoes together. The rest of the family are still out working at the building site, but Jeremy is home early for dinner duties. He’s seventeen, but definitely the best cook in the house. He clatters jars of herbs and butter onto the bench and then surveys them with a mournful expression.

“Why are you both so slow?” he says. “Are we having my infamous herb and garlic potatoes this year or at my funeral when I die at age ninety-four?”

Moxie throws peels at him. “Rude.” She nudges Sam with her hip. “Hey, you’re far away. Everything okay?”

Sam blinks. “I’m fine.” He needs to snap out of it or Moxie will press with questions he’s not ready to answer. He wants to keep this summer, this pretend honeyed paradise, for as long as possible.

Distraction comes in the form of Toby trotting into the kitchen with Jeremy’s phone clasped in sticky three-year-old hands. The De Lainey’s refer to the hour before dinner as the dreaded witching time, when the little ones will hurtle into hangry meltdowns if you even look at them wrong. Jeremy offered up his phone like a sacrificial goat so Toby would be occupied and they could get dinner on. The baby is licking the wall but seems fine. It’s just Toby now planted in the midst of the kitchen with the phone raised above his head as it plays tinny strains of music.

He jumps up and down. “Dance wiv me, Moxie!”

“Um, no.” Moxie stabs an apple. “I have standards.”

Toby forcefully crosses his arms and his bottom lip wobbles.

“If he starts crying,” Jeremy warns, “he will never stop and my fragile eardrums can’t take it. I’m not…not strong enough. Don’t be a monster, Moxie.” He flaps vaguely in Toby’s direction. “At least he put on Twice Burgundy. It’s a good band. Our little terror has taste.”

Toby tips back his head and wails, “Nobody will dance wiv me!”

“Quick put food in his mouth,” Moxie says. “That’ll distract him.”

But Toby’s already gone into a boneless heap, wail escalating.

Sam abandons the potatoes and slips over to the ensuing apocalypse. He’s really good at averting meltdowns. Lots of practice with Avery.

“Moxie is a terrible dancer.” Sam pats Toby’s back. “You don’t want her anyway.”

“Ouch,” says Jeremy.

Moxie raises an eyebrow. “I’m unsure whether to be grateful for that comment.”

Toby picks himself up, face damp, and then flings arms around Sam’s legs. “You dance!” He starts jumping up and down, clutching Sam’s leg with one arm and the phone with the other, which continues a song that tastes of violent summer storms.

Sam gives Moxie and Jeremy a helpless look. They smirk.

“Daaaance!” shrieks the tiny overlord.

Sam obeys.

He is not a dancer. His ears go hot as he tries to move his gangly limbs in some sort of rhythm. His undone shoelaces flick against the floor and he has no idea what he’s doing. But Toby beams and begins what looks like a demon-possessed-chicken-polka.

Moxie cracks up so hard she starts dropping potatoes.

“Dance! Dance!” Toby shouts.

“Yeah, Moxie. Dance, dance.” Sam snatches her hand and pulls her into a spin, because if he’s going to suffer, so is she.

Moxie is laughing too hard to protest. But when she finally gets her breath, she rests a palm against Sam’s chest. “Fine.” Her eyes are bright as a dare. “But this is how you dance.”

And suddenly they’re not messing around to good music on bad speakers. They’re truly dancing.

Their hearts pound and bodies brush together. Moxie’s arms twirl above her head and Sam’s feet skid across the floorboards. There’s a thump as Jeremy jumps into the middle, proving the demon-possessed-chicken-polka style is a disturbing De Lainey family trait.

They are so happy in that moment, so full of wild abandon, they could have outshone the sun.

They are also so distracted, by music and their own fierce delight, that they don’t hear the front door opening as Mr. De Lainey and Jack walk in.

The impromptu dance party ends with a shriek from Moxie and all three of them drop down behind the kitchen benches. Toby just squeals in delight at this new turn of the game.

“I’m pretty sure they saw us,” Sam says, breathing hard.

Moxie covers her face. “Bury me.”

Jeremy pats her shoulder. “Jack’s never going to let this go. We might as well leave the country.”

On cue, Jack starts crowing while kicking off his work boots. “What was that delightful sight?”

“I don’t know, Jack.” Mr. De Lainey’s voice is exaggeratedly loud. “Did you see several electrocuted noodles flailing in my kitchen?”

“It’s almost like they are sooo embarrassed,” Jack says. “I wonder why.”

“These embarrassed noodles are making you dinner,” Jeremy shouts, still safe behind the cupboards. “Don’t criticise us!”

“We did it for the three-year-old,” Moxie adds.

“Please forget you ever saw that,” Sam says.

Jeremy and Moxie look at him.

They burst out laughing.

Moxie laughs so hard she tips over into Sam’s lap, which he didn’t expect. But he doesn’t flinch. Instead he has a perfectly acceptable reason to gently slip arms around her. It doesn’t mean anything. Totally not.

Mr. De Lainey and Jack peer over the bench.

“They’re so freaking cute,” Jack says.

Mr. De Lainey’s voice is mild as always. “I’m off to shower, but try to get dinner on soon. Goodbye, embarrassed noodles.”

The embarrassed noodles on the floor make distressed sounds as Mr. De Lainey heads for the stairs.

Jack is still smirking as he hauls himself up on the bench, shedding sawdust and grime. He plucks a peeled potato off the stack and bites it.

Jeremy picks himself off the floor and looks disgusted at his twin. “You are an animal. Alright, up children.” He nudges Moxie in the ribs with his toe. “Be useful.”

Moxie is still buried in Sam’s lap. “I can’t show my face again.”

“Make her movie, Sammy,” Jeremy says.

Sam carefully sweeps Moxie’s dark chocolate curls away from her ear. His whisper is sweet gold and Moxie stifles a giggle as she pushes off him and they both get to their feet.

Jeremy watches with a dubious expression. “Hm, alright, wait. What did you say to her? Something racy? Because if so, I will have to beat someone with a potato masher. Probably myself. Because ew.”

Moxie flounces over to the pantry for more potatoes. “None of your business, Jeremy.”

Jeremy exchanges a hurt expression with Jack who helpfully offers him the potato masher.

Sam slips back to the pile of potatoes, tips of his ears still red. He tries to keep his voice breezy as he says, “Nothing. I just said she is a cute electrocuted noodle.”

“Oh but this is an adorable development,” Jeremy says with an eyebrow wiggle. “Calling each other cute. My, my. Whatever is next? True LOVE.”

Sam fumbles for potatoes, knocks them on the floor, feels his ears go volcanic red and then promptly wishes for death. He shouldn’t have said cute. He was just copying what Jack said. But OK, it sounded flirty from him. He’s not flirting. He wouldn’t…he…

Help.

“Like, I said, so adorable,” Jeremy says. “Look at your little blush! Aw!”

Moxie slams more potatoes into the sink and scowls at her older brother. “What would you know about love, dumbass? Your only love life is you and that potato.”

Jeremy caresses a potato gently. “Potatoes are better than boyfriends anyway.”

“Nobody thinks that,” says Moxie.

Jack stops eating his gross raw potato and points the masher at Sam. “Right, you. Potatoes or Moxie?”

“Man, don’t ask me things like that.” Sam chases the potatoes he dropped and it’s only when he’s set them back on the bench that he notices Jeremy choking on silent laughter and Moxie’s expression is brittle.

“You better say something romantic,” Jeremy says, gasping, “to make up for that.”

Sam panics. “Um, I mean, they’re on the same level. Equal appreciation.”

“That was not romantic,” Moxie snaps.

“What are you saying? It was super romantic.”

“Sam, no.”

Jeremy loops an arm around both their necks and drags them into an uncomfortable hug. Moxie fights. Sam gets far too close to Jeremy’s armpit.

“Let’s just make a unanimous decision,” Jeremy says grandly. “Potatoes are better than romance.”

Sam and Moxie shove him off before he tries to kiss their cheeks. Moxie gives her brother a foul look and then she and Sam go back to peeling potatoes. Dinner is going to be so, so late. Sam takes a careful step closer to Moxie so their arms brush. She doesn’t move away. He passes her a potato so their fingers catch for a second.

“Are you trying to romance me, young man?” she says.

“You’re my favourite potato,” he whispers.

She throws a potato peel at him. A smile plays on her lips and she doesn’t look away from him for a long time.

A massive massive thank you to the publishers and for C.G. Drews for sharing this with us! I just adore it! I WANT MORE FROM THESE GUYS. 

If you’re intrigued then PLEASE GO OUT AND BUY THE BOOK. It is so incredibly wonderful. I promise you, you will love it… I proper did. 

TBWSH Blog Tour

S x

Hello, you.

Hello 2019 Steph, it’s me… 2018 Steph.

How are you? What day is it that you’re reading this? What made you come back to this post? Remember you can come back to this post any time you need it. I know you won’t because you’re stubborn and proud and HATE admitting you need help. Don’t worry, we’re going to work on that together. There’s nothing wrong with admitting you need help, you need a break, you’re sad, you’re not ok… all of that is great because you know what? You’re not a superhuman, you’re not perfect: you’re HUMAN. So stop beating yourself up about the times you’re not perfect and just accept that they’re going to happen. (I wasn’t going to start writing to you in this way, but what will be will be!) Reader: Do you have a cup of tea? Cause I could be here a while, rambling away.

So 2018 was an incredible year, was it not? You graduated, you got hired to teach this amazing bunch of kids, became a teacher, won a blogging award, chaired a few amazing panels, saw your favourite people in the world, ate some incredible breakfasts, discovered some things about yourself that you didn’t know, went through some pretty rough patches and laughed a lot. Remember that thing everyone always says about your laugh? Try to remember it. You KNOW your laugh is amazing, use it as often as you can. Your kids, your friends, your family: they’ll all help you to use it as often as you can. Life’s not all peaches and cream, we both know that, but there’s people around you who can lift you up when you’re not feeling cush.

Let’s really get into this, shall we? We’ll start with the biggest part of your identity at the minute. Miss Elliott. The teacher you. The thing you’ve strived for for SO long and now you have it. Teaching is mint. It’s hard. It’s shitty some days. There’s politics we don’t want to be involved with, but unfortunately that comes with the job. Working hard got you to where you are now, but don’t for ONE minute stop trying to be the very best you can be. It’s what you deserve, it’s what those kids who you properly adore deserve: the best Miss Elliott there is. Trust your gut, if something doesn’t feel right, then it probably ISN’T. And always remember to follow your heart. It’ll be the best for everyone. It’ll mean you enjoy what you’re doing and that’s good for everyone. Give yourself a bit more credit and stop being so hard on yourself. You’re REALLY good at your job: no one can fault your passion, determination and love for it. You’re going to have bad days, bad lessons, tired days, snappy days… that’s just human nature. Try not to wallow on them. Shake them off and just move on. Remember the WHY you started teaching and those 30 brilliant little people in front of you and you should be OK. But if you’re not… tell someone. You’re surrounded by an incredible bunch of people (in school and online) and they will help – they’ve proven that, time and time again.

So yeah, teaching takes over your life. We both know that. We both know that you don’t do well in the holidays because you feel you lack purpose, routine and structure to your life. And that’s OK. Just don’t let it become the ONLY thing you associate with the holidays. Use them to recharge, relax and DO THINGS. That part of your identity is sorted now, or at least for the time being, so we need to start looking forward to the other bits of your identity that WE BOTH KNOW have been abandoned.

The dating world is a mess. We’ve had a mixed bag so far on the old dating front. Ghosting wasn’t a pleasant experience, so just remember the way you felt before you decide it’s easier to not confront a problem than to confront a problem head on. Yes, yes, we spend our whole time worrying about things which are insignificant. If someone isn’t going to be interested in you because of the way you look then let’s be real, you’re better off without them. Dating does your head in, but try not to let it get to you. You’ll like people who don’t end up liking you back. You’ll like people who aren’t ready to like you back. You’ll be put in situations where you’re just a second choice and we both know that’s not what you want. You’ve been the secret before, you really don’t want that again. Don’t put yourself through less than what you absolutely deserve. Find someone who gives you what you need. Be a bit more selfish  (I know, I know, we’re not good at that, but maybe that’s what we need!) Someone isn’t going to show up and instantly be the perfect person for you… that’s too easy… but being out there and putting yourself out there raises the chances that maybe, just maybe, someone who could be brilliant is out there. (I know you hate the whole dating game, I know. It’s horrible and its unfair and it’s shitty, but persevere and be kind to yourself!)

Remember you have this amazing family. I know you feel like a bit of an outsider at times, but you don’t need to. They’re there to make you feel included. They’re there to love you. Go see the twigs more. Look forward to baby Redshaw being born. Talk to your brother more – he is one of the wisest owls in the world (he does your head in sometimes, but that’s his job).

Keep blogging. It’s good for your soul. Talk about the things you want to talk about. The things that make you happy, the things that make you sad. The things that you find hard to talk about, the things you wanna shout about. You don’t just have to talk about the things other people are talking about. This is your blog. They’re your rules. I know you get bogged down in “oh but that blog is so much more beautiful/well planned/well written” than mine. But that’s cause that’s THAT blog. This is your space to ramble and chat and cry whenever you like. You need to make time to do it because it’s SO BLOODY GOOD for your brain. Keep shouting about the books you love. Make room on this here blog for so much love.

My one wish for you, 2019 Steph, is that you be the very best version of you that you can be. None of this “new year, new me” shit. Just be the best you you can be, not for anyone else, but for YOU. YOU deserve it over everyone else.

Now go and read a book, or text someone you love, or write a letter,

S x