BLOG TOUR: Proud

This year sees the release of one of my most hotly anticipated books, another brilliant anthology from the wonderful publishers Stripes. This year it’s an anthology to celebrate all things pride… and I’m not going to lie, reading it made me VERY proud.

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Today, I have the absolute honour of hosting one of the authors from the anthology, Michael Lee Richardson, as he talks about his top 5 queer teams. You’re in for an absolutely brilliant blog post, so get yourself a cup of tea and a biscuit! 

‘The Other Team’

Tales of the City author Armistead Maupin talks about biological families and logical families, the idea that we have the families we’re born into, and the families we make of our friends. For me, being queer is as much about our friendships and the people we choose to surround ourselves with as it is our romantic and sexual relationships. 

Queer friendship is one of the themes I wanted to work into ‘The Other Team’, the story I wrote for Juno Dawson’s Proud anthology.

With that in mind, when I was asked to write something for the #ProudBook blog tour, I wanted to focus on my favourite queer teams and my favourite queer teammates – so, without further ado:

Michael Lee Richardson’s Top 5 Queer Teams!

The Crystal Gems

I’m a huge fan of Steven Universe – at this point, figuring out which Crystal Gem someone is most like is basically its own form of zodiac sign – and I love the dynamic between the Crystal Gems: Garnet, Amethyst, Pearl and Steven. The fact that they compliment each other, celebrate each other’s differences, and make room for each others quirks and eccentricities is pretty inspiring, as is the fact that they know how to have a good argument and still be there for each other at the end of the day. In the real world, the fact that the Crewniverse – the team behind Steven Universe – is full of queers is also pretty inspiring!

The Fab Five

When I heard Netflix were remaking Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, I was skeptical – the series had its place in the early 2000s, but it felt like we had moved on by 2017. Relaunching the show as Queer Eye – not all the makeovers are with ‘straight guys’ – was a good starting point, but the team Netflix put together was the key to the show’s success. Jonathan Van Ness is my favourite, obviously (when I wrote Alistair from ‘The Other Team’ flicking his ‘hair’ off his shoulders, I was definitely thinking of Van Ness!), but I love them all, and they all bring something unique to the team – not just in their skills, but in their personalities and personas, and it’s nice to see a diverse bunch of queer men working together (especially when it’s for the benefit of other queers).

House of LaBeija

Nothing speaks to the idea of logical families better than houses, part of the drag and ballroom customs which started in Harlem in New York and have become a staple of queer scenes all over the world. From the language – shade, reading, fierce, realness – to the fashion to the dance, ballroom’s influence on queer and mainstream culture can’t be underestimated. I’m particularly fond of the House of LaBeija – Crystal LaBeija, the founder of the House of LaBeija, is often credited as having started ‘house’ culture, and her successor Pepper LaBeija makes a star turn in the legendary drag documentary Paris is Burning.

Babysitter’s Club

Okay, so they’re not canonically queer – but one of the things Proud has made me revisit is the idea that, before LGBTQI+ YA was a going concern, we had to ‘queer’ our YA for ourselves, and there’s no way you could tell 11 year old me the every single one of these girls (and Logan Bruno, boy babysitter) wasn’t queer! The ‘theory’ checks out, too – Ann M Martin, author of The Babysitter’s Club, is queer, and came out publicly after the series was finished. 

Helen and Kate Richardson-Walsh

Slightly cheating, this one, as I said being queer teammates was more about friendships than romantic relationships – and Helen and Kate are both! Helen and Kate Richardson-Walsh met playing for the England and Great Britain hockey teams – they married in 2013, three years before becoming the first same-sex couple to win an Olympic medal when Team GB won Gold in the women’s field hockey tournament in 2016.

For me, any blog post that celebrates Team GB, The Fab 5 and drag queens in the same blog post is an ABSOLUTE winner. A massive massive thank you to Michael for taking the time to write a blog post for me! I LOVE it so much. 

My review of Proud is coming in the next week or so, so make sure to keep an eye out for it. I promise you this much though… it is EXCEPTIONAL and I can’t wait to shout about it from the rooftops!! 

Why don’t you go celebrate some other brilliant #Proudbook content by checking out the rest of the stops on the blog tour? I have absolutely loved how this blog tour is celebrating all things pride related. 

proud blog tour

A massive thank you to the people of Stripes for sending me an early copy of the book and for inviting me on the blog tour. It’s been an absolute honour to shout about this book everywhere! I can’t wait for it to be released into the wild so everyone can enjoy its majesty! 

S x 

 

Song of Sorrow mood board

Well hello! Happy Wednesday. How are we all?

Today is a very exciting day. Today is the day before the official release of ‘Song of Sorrow’ by one of my absolute faves – Melinda Salisbury. I have, of course, read the book already (thank you Scholastic, you guys are my faves) and needed to share my thoughts and feelings with you all (you’ll see that tomorrow in my MASSIVE REVIEW). Today however I’m sharing my mood board. 

Now, for those of you who have read Song of Sorrow, I’d like to think you can find the symbolism in my pictures before you read my spiel, however if you haven’t read it yet, don’t worry. My mood board and description are SPOILER-LESS (which, let me tell you, is VERY tricky for me because all I want to do is go OMGOMGOMGOMG SPOILERSPOILERSPOILER). 

I had a whole load of fun doing this and hope you guys like it!

Song moodboard

Let’s start with the abandoned corridor – this for me depicts one of the more unexpected settings of the book. It’s eerie, it’s spooky, it’s somewhat inviting though. It’s intrigue, it’s curious, it’s ‘what’s down the hall?’. Sorrow finds herself somewhere she’s never been before and as soon as I saw this picture, for me, this could’ve been where she was. 

The poison bottle – obviously this is a Mel book, so there’s SOME kind of poison going on. For me reading Song, there’s both literal and figurative poisoning going on. There’s poisonous people, poisonous thoughts, poisonous actions. It’s a bit of a thread. I loved this picture and thought it was spot on.

The girl looking out of the window could be Sorrow or it could be Irris – I didn’t really know. Sorrow makes some BIG decisions in this book and there’s a feeling of loneliness at times too. I saw this picture and it screamed ‘contemplation, loneliness, betrayal’ – pretty perfect for Song of Sorrow tbh.

The butterflies flying from the jar are beautifully symbolic of freedom. Whether that’s freedom from physical restraints or freedom from thoughts. Sometimes you’ve got to make a MASSIVE jump to free yourself: from yourself, from your past, from other people, from expectations on your shoulders. Sorrow is the butterfly and the jar is the life she’s been living for her whole life.

Man, those creepy hands and thorns. Now this is quite a literal depiction of a scene from the book BUT it could also be reaching out for help. I can’t go into too much detail here because SPOILERS. This was the perfect “saw this and thought of you” picture.

The holding hands represent again another MASSIVE SPOILER, but they also represent strength. Sorrow needs to find a lot of strength in this book (because she’s living her life, she needs it surrounded by bloody Vespus) and she finds it through some familiar faces. We all need those people who will stand by us and hold out hands (both physically and figuratively) because let’s be honest, we all need help in life. 

The last picture (the quote from Mandela) might be one of my favourite quotes that I didn’t know existed. It’s one I’m all about in my own life, but it’s also one I think Sorrow so brilliantly lives. She’s terrified (and rightly so) and makes choices out of fear, until she maybe doesn’t anymore. 

(All of these pictures I found on Pinterest! All rights and all that jazz to the people they belong to!)

I hope you enjoyed my mood board, and let me know if you read Song of Sorrow…. I am ALWAYS here to talk Mel!

S x 

 

February in books

Hello there!

It is March already, HOW DID THAT HAPPEN? Genuinely though… February WHIZZED past. 

Today I’m here to share with you the books I read in February!

In February, I:

Had half term and it was brilliant
Started Priory of the Orange Tree and am still reading it!
Received lots of incredible book post (thank you publishers!)
Experienced lots of unexpected sunshine! 
Spent time with my goddaughters having a reading date
Shared lots of brilliant books with my kids
Had some bloody brilliant lessons
Read 14 books

So, what did I actually read in February? 

I read a whole host of books, with reviews for a load of them coming in the next few weeks – so watch out for those! Check out the reviews that are already live if it takes your fancy!

Let’s start with MG for a change!

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Everdark – Abi Elphinstone (World Book Day 2019 book!)*
Swimming Against the Storm – Jess Butterworth*
The Star Spun Web – Sinead O’Hart
Owen and the Solder – Lisa Thompson*
Asha and the Spirit Bird – Jasbinder Bilan*

And now some YA?!

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The Boy Who Steals Houses – C.G. Drews*
The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali – Sabina Khan*
The Quiet at the End of the World – Lauren James
A Girl Called Shameless – Laura Steven
The Extinction Trials: Rebel – S.M. Wilson*
Song of Sorrow – Melinda Salisbury*
The Cold is in Her Bones – Peternelle van Arsdale*
Devoted – Jennifer Mathieu*
The Disconnect – Keren David*

(any books with a * were proofs or finished copies sent to me by the publisher)

How am I doing for my book challenges?

Goodreads challenge: 25/52 (lol I’m almost half way already!)
#52books challenge (just kids books): 6/52

How did you do with your reading in February? 
What was your favourite read of February? 
What would you recommend me from your 2019 reading list?

Talk to me in the comments. I don’t need more books… but will HAPPILY take more recommendations! 

S x 

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 

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 

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!

tckas

“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. 

tckas2

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: Slay On Tour

Today’s post is coming to you from the boyband tour bus in Japan as part of the Slay blog tour. If you don’t know the world of Slay yet, then you are 100% missing out. Check out my review of the first book in this series here!

Slay on Tour: slaying in all the VERY BEST ways!

“SLAY are BACK…and this time they’re headed to Tokyo to track down another hell-raising demon. When they’re invited on tour with a super-cool band of holographic girls, SLAY find themselves whisked off around Japan – until strange things start happening on their tour train. Suddenly it seems it’s not just SLAY’s fans following their every move…”

Slay on Tour sees the boys of Slay (a demon fighting boy band, obviously) fighting demons in Japan! Having read the first book and LOVING IT, I needed this second book in my life so much. This series is SUCH fun and it’s so incredible to read a book with such personality. The characters, the settings, the friendship and the family explored in these books makes me so happy. 29 year old me loves these books and I know that 15 year old me would have too: boybands and demon fighting… what more do we need?

Slay on Tour sees the boys in Japan, having been given the opportunity to tour alongside a new and incredibly revolutionary Japanese band. I always knew there was something up with the band and their people – a band of holographic girls who are “perfect”. Yeah, cause that’s normal… but I loved it. There was a bit of the feminist in me going “WE DON’T NEED TO BE PERFECT TO DESERVE TO BE IN A BAND”. 

Obviously, in the midst of all of this touring, the boys are still fighting demons. The demon slayers (I bloody love how descriptive the word slayers is!) have to fight some pretty dark and deceptive demons in this second installment. A demon who steals souls? Yeah. No thanks actually! There’s even the reappearance of an old “friend”. 

A massive shout out to the folklore in this book too. I loved the little nuggets of Japanese folklore information thrown in. (You all know I’m a PROPER sucker for a bit of a mythological story, so this made my heart sing!) Learning about other cultures and the stories from them is just mint – so to see this thrown into the book was another massive tick!

You get the fun of the demon fighting as well as those brilliant characters who we met and loved in book 1. The boys are just lush. I like each of them for very different reasons. I’d love them to be a real band, so I could join them (I don’t know that I’d be a great demon fighter like!) Not only that, but there is a lovely exploration of something which happens in book 1. This something (I don’t wanna share too much cause spoilers!) happens to have a massive impact on the dynamic of the band, with ever trusty Milly having to come to the rescue. I really love Milly. She’s sassy, brave and bold: she has to be. She’s thrust into this life of being in one of the biggest boybands in the world. And because she’s a badass, she takes it ALL in her stride. 

I loved this book. I may have even loved it more than book 1! I know, I know. I have my fingers crossed that there MAY be a third book. PLEASE. 

I even have an incredible exclusive quote from the brilliant Kim herself on why boy bands, fandoms and blurred lines! It sums up the Slay books so brilliantly!

“When I was growing up in the 90s, I had properly drunk the patriarchal kool aid. Without knowing why exactly, I put all things ‘girlie’ into a mental box labelled shameful. It’s internalised the misogyny that placed things that boys love above stuff that girls love. And, to my great sadness, that included boy bands. I was into Star Wars and The Teenage Ninja Turtles, X-Men comic books and Grunge rock music – all the geeky-cool stuff that defined a lot of ‘boy culture’. But, as I got older and began to examine my choices, I discovered there was a world of amazing ‘girl culture’ I’d been missing out on. As an adult, I loved it all. Twilight, Sailor Moon, High School Musical. And yes, One Direction! Now, I’m on a mission to see that all the things that teen girls love are given the same respect and the same value as the stuff boys love. And that when it comes to entertainment, gender should play no part in it. When writing Slay and Slay on Tour I consciously blurred all the lines between ‘girl’ stuff and ‘boy’ stuff to create something that’s just fun – which transcended gender.”

So please! Go out and buy these books if you’re looking for something EXCELLENT, FUN and PROPER GREAT. 

Have you read Slay?
Would you make it as a demon fighter?
Do you think I’d make it as a demon slayer?

Check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour… it was a proper honour to kick it off! Thanks so much to the brilliant humans of Usborne for asking me to kick off the tour! 

slay on tour blog tour

Let’s get talking about #SlayonTour on twitter! These books deserve so much love! 

S x