BLOG TOUR: The Deathless Girls

Hello one and all! 

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

The Deathless Girls: delicious, fierce and dark. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Goodreads review:

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

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

Kiran Millwood Hargrave author image

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

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

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

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

Blog Tour_twitter

S x 

 

BOOK BLOG: Recent reads!

Hello there! 

How are you all today? 

I’m here with some mini reviews of some of my recent reads. I read a LOT during the Summer holidays and am going to find it near impossible to write full reviews for everything, so I’m going to do a mixture of mini reviews and full reviews of things over the next few weeks. My reading will slow way down now that I’m back to school so it should give me time to catch up on things I’ve not reveiwed yet on my blog! 

Today I’m going to review 3 books.
3 books that I read pretty close together.
3 books with quite similar themes!

Let’s get on with it! 

Stolen – Lucy Christopher

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“IT HAPPENED LIKE THIS.
I was stolen from an airport. Kidnapped. Taken from everything I knew, everything I was used to. Imprisoned by sand and heat, dirt and danger. And he expected me to love him.
This is my story. A letter to my captor.”

This has been sat on my shelf for like 2 years (I’m sure I picked it up at YALC 2 years ago) and I totally forgot about it because it was on one of my 2 deep shelves. It’s the story of Gemma, a young girl who is kidnapped from an airport one day. She’s taken away from everyone she’s ever known, everything she’s ever known and is suddenly in a strange house in the middle of nowhere in Australia with a man who she has never met before. 

I loved this. It was SO BLOODY COMPELLING. I needed to know what was going to happen next. The whole premise was fascinating to me. This book is written as one long letter (so there’s no chapters which I initially found jarring but it worked for this book so well) from Gemma to her captor. She goes through everything that happened to her in the time she spent with him. She talks about how she felt and the things that happened to her. I think because it was written as a letter there were times where I found her captor Ty slightly human, but man, I hated that guy. So so much. He’s not an OK person. 

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly – Stephanie Oakes

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“The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust. And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too. Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it’s clear that Minnow knows something—but she’s not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.”

Sacred Lies tells the story of Minnow, a young girl who was part of a cult. The cult has recently lost their prophet and there was a fire at the complex. Minnow has the chance to be free from everything: the cult, their way of life, her secrets, their control over her. She’s just got to be willing to tell someone the secrets she’s held so dearly on to. 

As you know if you’ve been here for a while, I bloody love a cult book – I think they’re fascinating. My friend Kelly has been ranting and raving about this book for months, but I’ve just never managed to pick it up. I found it for cheap and I decided that now was the time and my lord, it did not disappoint. It was everything I wanted from a cult book: lies, deception, secrecy, isolation, family, friends, twisting of the truth. Minnow goes through A LOT. An awful lot. There’s some fascinating threads of what the world is compared to what Minnow thinks of the world throughout this book and it kept me hooked. I read this book within a few hours and now I am mourning the loss of another cult book (if you can recommend me any, yes I’ve read After the Fire, then please shout)

The Girls

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“Evie Boyd is fourteen and desperate to be noticed. It’s the summer of 1969 and restless, empty days stretch ahead of her. Until she sees them. The girls. Hair long and uncombed, jewelry catching the sun. And at their centre, Suzanne, black-haired and beautiful. If not for Suzanne, she might not have gone. But, intoxicated by her and the life she promises, Evie follows the girls back to the decaying ranch where they live. Was there a warning? A sign of what was coming? Or did Evie know already that there was no way back?”

The Girls tells the story of Evie, a young girl who is kind of lured into this group of drug smoking, free living and free loving group one day after she some what falls in love with the ever so enchanting Suzanne. What happens when Evie gets there isn’t what she was expecting and Evie risks a lot in her life to stay on the right side of her new bunch of friends… who might not actually be that great underneath the surface.

This book is not the traditional age range I normally read: this is definitely not YA, so I was a bit out of my comfort zone here. Despite that fact, I enjoyed this book, but when I finished it left me needing a bit of closure. I had so so many questions left that needed to be answered. This book is fascinating in parts… I needed to keep reading at many points becuase there were so many things which kept me hooked. A bit like Evie, I was hooked and curious about this new group of friends she’d made. Told in flashbacks and Evie’s life as it currently is, I found that I was more bothered in the actual story of the “cult” than I was in Evie’s life now. 

And there we go! 3 books with very similar themes that I read on the trot… there were moments where I got all 3 of them jumbled, but that’s OK! It’ll teach me not to read such similar books together again haha!

Have you read any books like these recently?
Can you recommend me any cult books?
What have you read recently that you’d recommend?

Talk to me in the comments! 

S x 

August in books!

Hello there everyone!

How are we doing? Happy September to everyone! Happy back to school week to all of my teacher friends and parent friends! I hope you’ve all had a lovely Summer holiday. I tell you what, I did a LOT of reading! 

I’m here today to share the books I got reading in August! 

In August, I:

Enjoyed the Summer holidays.
Spent a lot of time eating delicious breakfasts and drinking yummy tea.
Saw a lot of my favourite people.
Daydreamed about a lot of holidays.
Did a lot of manual labour at school.
FINALLY created a real library in school (with the help of our amazing facilities manager).
Enjoyed a lot of laughing and chilling.
Went to the Lakes with my mam, auntie and uncle.
Had one of the best breakfast dates with my cousin.
Read 25 (!) books!

Let’s start with MG

august mg 2019

What a delicious mix of books here! From doggos who want to save their family (I, Cosmo), to a brilliant young girl living in Africa (The Girl Savage), to a GEORDIE CHARACTER (The Frozen Sea), there’s something here for everyone! I’ve really loved reading MG books this month because I read quite a lot of book 2 in series (Patina, Lost Tide Warriors, Under Earth, Truth Pixie Goes to School and The Frozen Sea) so I got to revisit some of my favourite worlds that I’ve come across AND meet some new characters and some new worlds!

Now the YA books!

august ya 2019

Look at that host of YA books!! I didn’t realise I’d read so many YA books until I put them all together and I counted them! 12 YA books in one month… I am FLABBERGASTED! But also pretty chuffed. I’ve read some absolute corkers this month. From life on a jellyfish (Jelly, obv), to a young girl stolen from her parents in an airport (Stolen), to the book that’s made me the angriest this year (I Hold Your Heart), these books have taken me to brand new worlds, helped me revisit some worlds and introduced me to some of the most wonderful chracters I know. Just like my MG books, I’ve read sequels (Demon World, The Curses), a series starter (Three Dark Crowns) and a whole host of standalones! Just how I like it!

And finally… (I know… you’re thinking, but Steph, you don’t read anything else…)

BOOKS FOR ADULTS

I know, it’s OK. I’m still the same old Steph you know and love, I promise!

august adult 2019

This month is the month I’ve branched out the most (I say that and there’s only 4 books on this list ha!). This is quite a range of books even within the 4. I wanna shout about all of these books because they’re SO BLOODY GOOD. They all serve an amazing purpose in the world and more people need to read them. From witchy happenings in a sleepy town (sanctuary), to the story of a doctor in our beloved NHS (This Is Going To Hurt), a short essay about why kids books are mint (Why You Should Read Children’s Books…), this little pile of books is EXCEPTIONAL pals. 

And there we have it… all the books I read in August! I know there is NO WAY September is going to be this productive, but I’m hoping to keep to reading every/most days so I maybe have double figures over the month.  

HOW AM I DOING FOR MY BOOK CHALLENGES?

GOODREADS CHALLENGE: 105/52
#52BOOKS CHALLENGE (JUST KIDS BOOKS): 50/52

Thanks for stopping by! Talk to me in the comments!

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

What would you recommend me from your 2019 reading list?

Speak to you all soon, 

S x 

BOOK BLOG: YA wrap up!

Hello everyone!

I’m back at it again with some mini reviews! I’ve had a very busy August of reading so far and thought I’d share some mini reviews of some of the amazing YA I’ve been reading! 

Scars like Wings by Erin Stewart

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“Ava Lee has lost everything there is to lose: Her parents. Her best friend. Her home. Even her face. She doesn’t need a mirror to know what she looks like–she can see her reflection in the eyes of everyone around her. A year after the fire that destroyed her world, her aunt and uncle have decided she should go back to high school. Be “normal” again. Whatever that is. Ava knows better. There is no normal for someone like her. And forget making friends–no one wants to be seen with the Burned Girl, now or ever. But when Ava meets a fellow survivor named Piper, she begins to feel like maybe she doesn’t have to face the nightmare alone. Sarcastic and blunt, Piper isn’t afraid to push Ava out of her comfort zone. Yet Piper is fighting her own battle, and soon Ava must decide if she’s going to fade back into her scars . . . or let the people by her side help her fly.”

My my. Reading this book was like a punch in the gut. This book is one of those that makes an impact and fast. We all have scars, but not like Ava. Ava was burned in a fire and she’s hidden herself away from the world ever since. This all changes when she is told she is ready to go back to school. Obviously, a young girl who has been cordoned off from the real world for a year, who now has to go back into the world of school is going to be terrified. What happens when she gets there is an emotional rollercoaster. From her incredible family, to the friends she makes, to the shout outs to musicals, this book was just wonderful. It hit me where it hurt and made me cry. I love Ava’s group of friends; they’re all lucky to have each other. I’m sad to be finished; to say goodbye to the sarcasm, friendship, bravery and love they shared. Massive thank you to Simon and Schuster for the review copy!

I Hold Your Heart by Karen Gregory

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“When Gemma meets Aaron, she feels truly seen for the first time. Their love story is the intense kind. The written-in-the-stars, excluding-all-others kind. The kind you write songs about. But little by little their relationship takes over Gemma’s life. What happens when being seen becomes being watched, and care becomes control?”

MY GOD. I don’t know that I can use the word “enjoy” about this book because I hate Aaron SO MUCH. I can’t talk about this book without giving away too many spoilkers, but Aaron is possibly the WORST character I’ve ever come across. The ending was NOT what I wanted, no was it what he deserved. Telling a story of love, you see through both Gemma and Aaron’s eyes what their relationship is. This book was gripping, tough to read and made me so angry. I can’t talk about this book without being angry and I need someone else to join me in the anger. However, in amongst all of that anger and that weird obsessive Aaron behaviour, there’s also so much love, friendship, fighting for the ones you love and kindness. Gemma is surrounded by so much love (some of it more toxic!)

Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott

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“Stella Grant likes to be in control—even though her totally out of control lungs have sent her in and out of the hospital most of her life. At this point, what Stella needs to control most is keeping herself away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardize the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions.
The only thing Will Newman wants to be in control of is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments. Soon, he’ll turn eighteen and then he’ll be able to unplug all these machines and actually go see the world, not just its hospitals.
Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on Stella she could lose her spot on the transplant list. Either one of them could die. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. Would five feet apart really be so dangerous if it stops their hearts from breaking too?”

I’m a sucker for a bit of romance. I’m even more of a sucker for “shouldn’t be trogether, but let’s be honest, they’re meant to be together”. This book tells the story of Stella and Will, two young people who are in hospital. Two young people who aren’t allowed to be around other people because it could be life-threatening. However, when they find each other, they find something they’ve both been looking for. I loved this book, an awful lot. I love Will. I love Poe. Stella is an angel. Barb is lush. This is a beautiful story of love at its limits. There’s just so much love in this book. Let’s not deny the fact that I definitely cried. There’s so much lush about this book. And now it’s been made into a film… but I don’t think my emotions are ready to be battered again just yet! Massive thank you to Simon and Schuster for the review copy!

Dead Popular by Sue Wallman

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“The reigning queen bee, Kate, knows that you don’t become the most powerful girl at school by playing nice. But when other students start revealing long-held secrets anonymously, she realizes someone is playing a much more dangerous game – and they know too much about Kate’s past. If she doesn’t figure out who’s behind this, her final year at Pankhurst could be exactly that: her final year.”

This tells the story of a boarding school full of entitled, posh scholars who are obsessed with beauty. I loved the setting of the boarding school and the beach. I think it’s a great combination. If you’re a fan of a boarding school book, this will be right up your street! I really really loved Munro – I think the characters in this book make it enticing and dark. There’s some dark motives and even darker deeds. There’s a mystery element that I enjoyed too… I didn’t see it coming, but when it did BAM! This is one of those books that starts to show itself to you slowly, but once you’re there, it’s like YEP that’s why you went a bit slower. You get to know the characters and their dynamics really well before you get into the action. Massive thank you to Scholastic for the review copy!

PHEW. There we go! Just 4 of the YA books I’ve read recently. I really enjoyed them all! If I had to pick a favourite though, I’d have to say Scars Like Wings would just snatch the title from I Hold Your Heart (seriously though, someone else be angry with me!). 

What have you read recently?
Have you read any of these books?
Can you recommend me a book?

Talk to me! I wanna know what you think of my wrap ups: do you like them? Do you prefer my full reviews? Do you not care? (ha!)

S x 

July in books

Hi friends!

How are you? Sorry for the random hiatus… last week just got ahead of me and then I was away for YALC (post to come in the next week or so about that!) and now here we are. 

I’m here today to share my July in books! 

In July, I:

Finished my NQT year!
Broke up for the Summer holidays.
Enjoyed a lot of sunshine.
Watched a load of Terrell videos.
Cried a bit.
Was exhausted for a lot of the time.
Read 10 books.

Let’s start with YA books (cause there’s more of them!):

july 2019 books ya

There’s a whole range of books here that could appeal to ALL OF THE PEOPLE. Whether you want a twisted, dark Disney World esque story (The Kingdom), a wonderfully moving story about the power of friendships and mental health (All The Things We Never Said), a boarding school who did it story (Dead Popular) or a Beauty and the Beast retelling (A Curse So Dark and Lonely), there’s something in this pile for you! 

Heartstream – Tom Pollock
Dead Popular – Sue Wallman
Eliza and her Monsters – Francesca Zappia
A Curse So Dark and Lonely – Brigid Kemmerer
The Kingdom – Jess Rothenberg
All The Things We Never Said – Yasmin Rahman

Reviews to come for all of these!

Now to the MG:

2019 july books mg

The kids books I got round to reading this month were A DELIGHT. From books that aren’t even out yet, to books that are continuations of my favourite series, July had it all! I would recommend each and every one of these: funny, enchanting, adventure filled and exciting! 

Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Spiders – Katie and Kevin Tsang
Evernight – Ross Mackenzie
Shadows of Winterspell – Amy Wilson
The Dragon in the Library – Louie Stowell

Mini reviews of these to come in the next week. I need to talk about these!

And there we have it… all the books I read in July! I’m hoping August can be a wonderfully productive reading month since it’s still the holidays! 

HOW AM I DOING FOR MY BOOK CHALLENGES?

GOODREADS CHALLENGE: 80/52
#52BOOKS CHALLENGE (JUST KIDS BOOKS): 41/52

Thanks for stopping by! Talk to me!

How did you do with your reading in July? 
What were your stand out books from last month?
What would you recommend me from your 2019 reading list?

Speak to you soon!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Tom Pollock

Heartstream: fascinating, terrifying, mind-blowing

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Cat is in love. Always the sensible one, she can’t believe that she’s actually dating, not to mention dating a star. But the fandom can’t know. They would eat her alive. And first at the buffet would definitely be her best friend, Evie.
Amy uses Heartstream, a social media app that allows others to feel your emotions. She broadcasted every moment of her mother’s degenerative illness, and her grief following her death. It’s the realest, rawest reality TV imaginable. But on the day of Amy’s mother’s funeral, Amy finds a strange woman in her kitchen. She’s rigged herself and the house with explosives – and she’s been waiting to talk to Amy for a long time. Who is she? A crazed fan? What does she want? Amy and Cat are about to discover how far true obsession can go.

I had my first introduction to Tom Pollock’s writing through White Rabbit. Red Wolf and that book BLEW MY GOSH DARN MIND. It is incredible. When I heard Tom was writing another book, I knew that I needed to get on that ship ASAP. I was very lucky that my friend sent me his proof copy of Heartstream and I sat and read about 80% of it yesterday. MY GOSH. I don’t know that this review is going to be cohesive because the book just blew me away. 

So, what is Heartstream about?

You’re introduced to the two main characters, Amy and Cat, in the first two chapters. The book is told in a dual narrative with alternating chapters. Amy has just gone through the absolute tragedy of losing her mam and the day the book is set is the day of Amy’s mam’s funeral. Amy is a streamer – she streams on an app called Heartstream which allows the users to share their emotions with people who follow them. When Amy gets back from the funeral, there’s a crazed woman in her house with a bomb strapped to her chest. Amy can’t leave the house because the whole house has been rigged up to explosives too. As you go through the book, you live Amy’s day and live out what Cat is going through and how their two lives collide. 

That synopsis is RUBBISH and I’m sorry but if I say any more there will be SPOILERZ and that is not kind of me. Just know this from me. This story is FASCINATING. There are so many things I want to talk about that I know I can’t right now. The relationship between the two characters is NOT what I expected and there are cliffhangers aplenty in this book. It’s got more twists and turns than a maze and I was CONSTANTLY on my toes. 

The thought of living in a world where you can stream your emotions is terrifying and fascinating. Like, that’s just weird is it not? But it COULD happen. This COULD be what the future looks like. I loved that there was a real thread of technology throughout this book – there’s a bit later on with a very clever use of technology that I REALLY appreciated. I love a clever book. Tom does CLEVER brilliantly – if you’ve read Heartstream or White Rabbit. Red Wolf, you’ll know that. Something else Tom does wonderfully is he keeps you guessing ALL THE WAY. As soon as I thought I knew something, it was like BAM and no, I didn’t know that thing at all. 

I really enjoyed the dual perspective narrative. I think being able to write a book in more than one perspective is a wonderful talent to have and it is done WONDERFULLY in this book. Like properly well. You can’t beat a good bit of sleight of hand and this book TRICKS you all the way through. MAN I WANNA TALK ABOUT THIS SO MUCH BUT OMG SPOILERS. So yeah, the way this is written with dual perspective gives you the impression of one thing when in fact it is ANOTHER altogether! (I can’t say any more otherwise I WILL BE SPOILERING ALL OVER THE SHOP).

ALSO HERE for the cover love. Bloody love that cover. 

Right. I need to stop now because otherwise I am going to be spoiling this book for all of you. You need to get on the case of reading Heartstream because it is AMAZING. I was TRICKED and LURED into a false sense of security so many times. I need you all to go down those paths too. And then tell me.

Have you read Heartstream?
Do you enjoy a good dual perspective?
Can you recommend me any writers like Tom Pollock?

Talk to me! If you’ve read this book, please let me know because I NEED TO TALK ABOUT IT OK? 

S x 

p.s. so much happens in this book that I haven’t talked about because I just can’t. 

p.p.s it’s so so good. Please go and read it. I need to talk to someone about this book.

June in books

Hello friends!

How are you?

Sorry for my quietness recently. I’ve just been feeling VERY tired. There’s been a lot going on and I’ve just needed time to get my head into those activities and get them out of the way. Now that these things are out of the way, I should be able to be blogging more regularly.

Today I’m here to share with you my June reading! As you’ll see, it was a quiet reading month!!

In June, I:

Loved the sunshine!
Felt a bit like I was struggling to stay afloat, but I managed.
GOT MY REPORTS FINISHED.
Took my kids on residential and it was lovely.
Started getting things prepared for YALC.

Read 4 books.

So let’s get started with kids books!

Matt Haig – Evie and the Animals
Emma Read – Milton the Mighty

It seems June me went for an animal themed kids book reading theme. Loved both of these books a lot. Matt Haig is one of my utter go-to authors and he smashes it out of the park every time. Milton the Mighty actually made me a little less afraid of spiders! Would recommend both of these books!

Now my 2 YA books!

Lisa Williamson – The Art of Being Normal
Adam Silvera – They Both Die at the End

I read both of these books in one day and let me tell you friends, that is NOT a wise idea. I CRIED SO HARD ALL DAY. If you’ve not read these books, please do. PLEASE. They are both ABSOLUTELY magnificent. I just want to hug all of these characters.

And there we have it… all the books I read in June! I’m hoping July can be a more productive reading month, but sometimes you’ve just gotta let your brain do what it needs to.

HOW AM I DOING FOR MY BOOK CHALLENGES?

GOODREADS CHALLENGE: 70/52
#52BOOKS CHALLENGE (JUST KIDS BOOKS): 37/52

Thanks for stopping by! Talk to me!

How did you do with your reading in June? 
What were your stand out books from last month?
What would you recommend me from your 2019 reading list?

Speak to you soon!

S x

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

May in books

Hi friends!

Sorry I’ve been a bit sporadic posting the past few weeks… it’s been half term and to be honest I’ve just beenb enjoying being off. Normal service will resume from now: I promise!

Today I’m here to wrap up my May reading! 

In May, I:

Spent some time on half term enjoying books.
Loved the sunshine!
Had a few wobbles, but kept on my feet.
Finally started getting excited for YALC.
Started running.
Spent time on the beach with my class.
Started a mystery book in the classroom and my kids are LOVING it. 
Read 10 books.

So let’s get started!

Let’s start with YA because that’s the smaller of the two!

In May, I read 4 YA books!

2019 may ya

Some absolute bangers this month. Watch of for reviews of all of them in the coming weeks. Man, I do love a good mix of books!

The Deathless Girls – Kiran Milwood Hargrave
Shadowscent – P.M.Freestone
Alex in Wonderland – Simon James Green
The Year I Didn’t Eat – Samuel Pollen

Now to the MG books!

2019 may mg

This collection of kids books sees some of my favourite kinds of books. I can’t wait to share my reviews of these in the coming months! Massive massive shout outs for Jemima Small, Can You See Me and And Then I Turned Into A Mermaid: brilliant female voices and ALL so different.

Can You See Me – Libby Scott and Rebecca Westcott
The Good Thieves – Katherine Rundell
Jemima Small Versus the Universe – Tamsin Winter
And Then I Turned Into A Mermaid – Laura Kirkpatrick
Not My Fault – Cath Howe
The Unexpected Find – Toby Ibbotson

And there we have it… all the books I read in May!

HOW AM I DOING FOR MY BOOK CHALLENGES?

GOODREADS CHALLENGE: 65/52
#52BOOKS CHALLENGE (JUST KIDS BOOKS): 35/52

Thanks for stopping by! Talk to me!

How did you do with your reading in May? 
What were your stand out books from last month?
Do you agree with any of my faves from May?

What would you recommend me from your 2019 reading list?

See you soon!

S x

BLOG TOUR: The Path Keeper

Hello lovelies!

Today I am hosting author N J Simmonds taking on Strong Girls in YA as part of the blog tour for her debut novel The Path Keeper.

“What if every coincidence was a tiny miracle? What if our life was already mapped out before birth? What if someone had the power to change the path we were destined to follow?
Ella hates her new life in London, she misses Spain and she’s struggling to get over her past until she meets Zac. He has always loved her but he isn’t meant to be part of Ella’s story. Not this time. Not ever. Little does she know that his secret is the one thing that will tear them apart and will force her to live in a world that no longer makes sense, a world more dangerous than she could ever imagine.
The first in a thrilling new YA fantasy series, The Path Keeper is a tale of passion and secrets, of first loves and second chances, and the invisible threads that bind us. Can love ever be stronger than fate?”

Let’s go!

STRONG GIRLS IN YA

We all love strong girl in books and on screen. From Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman, to Katniss and Zélie, ferocious young women kicking arse and putting bad men in their place.

Except, there’s more than one way to be strong, and it doesn’t always involve shedding blood and high kicks (as much as I’m a huge fan of both too).

The depiction of women in literature has come a long way in the last twenty years, and never more so than in the Young Adult and Fantasy genres. Paving the way for important conversations, and creating role models for young readers, YA has always been in the foreground of strong young characters and formidable girl MCs.

When I started writing The Path Keeper, I wanted a female protagonist who had a voice. A girl that acted like the young women I know, and the young woman I once was. I didn’t know quiet, sullen, polite girls when I was growing up – I knew teens who fought back, who said what they thought and who acted. Sometimes they said too much, sometimes they were too impulsive, but for me that was more real than a simpering girl who needed to be rescued. So that’s how Ella came about – and she’s not the only woman in the series who struggles with her place in society and questions who she is mentally, physically and emotionally.

Strong girl protagonists are everywhere in YA, but they may not be holding a bow and arrow or have lightning shooting out of their fingertips. Here is my list of amazing female writers and their strong YA girls who in turn have helped teens understand themselves, and the world, better.

Let’s start with emotional wellbeing and mental health. This subject means a lot to me as I have had my own degree of ups and downs, and when I was growing up it wasn’t acceptable to admit that you were struggling. I read these books now and wish I could go back to fifteen-year-old Natali and tell her she’s not weird or weak for feeling the way she does, she’s actually totally normal and not alone.

Olive in Holly Bourne’s Are We All Lemmings And Snowflakes is a girl on the edge attending a summer camp with a difference – every attendee is suffering from various mental health issues. The underlying theme of the book is about being kind, but not just to others – girls are used to being told that – but kind to ourselves too. Likewise, Violet in Jennifer Niven’s All The Bright Places meets her love interest Finch on top of a school bell tower as they contemplate suicide. These aren’t easy subjects to broach in a novel targeted for a younger audience, but the girls are strong through their vulnerability – showing the readers that they too have nothing to be ashamed of.

Talking of shame, it’s refreshing to see a growing rise of body-positive female characters in YA. Gone are the days of Bridget Jones counting calories and noting how many pounds she’s gained in her diary – enter Dumplin (Dumplin by Julie Murphy), Eleanor (Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell) and Leah (Leah on the Offbeat, Becky Albertalli). These girls, so strong and powerful they not only appear in the title of their books but also on the covers, never once apologise for who they are and what they look like – in fact, their weight isn’t even the main point of the storylines – there’s no old-hat trope of ‘I was overweight, got thin and got revenge on my bullies’ here. These girls didn’t have to change the way they looked to get what they wanted, how they look doesn’t even come into it, because we love them for who they are.

And it’s not just being seen or understood that makes strong girls in YA so important, it’s also about being heard. Vivian in Jennifer Mathieu’s Moxie fights the feminist fight at her school, and Starr in the award-wining The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas teaches readers about the importance of speaking out about what you believe in. Starr is under pressure from her community, friends and society to keep quiet and not rock the boat – but she goes on to do what teens in real life are finding the strength to do too. From Malala to the pupils of Sandie Hook Elementary School, social media and the press finally want to hear what teens have to say, and books like these are showing them how it’s done.

And finally, there are the young women who have been dealt a shitty life they never asked for. Sadie from Courtney Summer’s harrowing book Sadie is a force to be reckoned with, but she’s no traditional beauty – in fact she has a stutter and doesn’t care what she looks like. And Indigo in Patrice Lawrence’s Indigo Donut is a feisty London girl brought up in the care system. She’s tough and she’s suffered – but she doesn’t need to be rescued. And looking outside of contemporary fiction to teen girls in YA fantasy, Inej from Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows, and Sarai, in Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer are perfect examples of delicate girls who are tough as nails and forced to create a family out of the scraps left from their previous lives. Although they are forced to do bad they still remain good – because they don’t let what has happened to them define who they are.

As a proud feminist, as a YA writer, and as a mother to two ferocious, smart and bold daughters, it fills my heart to read books filled with strong girls, as well as having the opportunity to create my own unforgettable characters (wait until you meet Luci in the sequel Son of Secrets).

What makes a strong girl in YA? Not muscle, not money and not magic – what makes a strong girl is fortitude, grounding morals and all the other strong girls surrounding her. Goodbye damsels in distress and pretty girls who just want to be accepted – and hello girls like you, like me, and what the future deserves. Young women kicking arse and fighting the good fight with weapons made not from iron but from hearts, voices and unity.

Stay strong, girls. I see you.

Every blog tour in the blog has a letter. Collect them all to spell out the answer to this competition question: What does Zac get in the sequel SON OF SECRETS that’s very out of character? Prize info and entry details will be posted in The Glass House Glass magazine on release day 28 May 2019. Check out today’s letter and competition graphic below.

Check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour so you can enter the competition!

S x