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

The One Where I Read Two Books In One Day And Cried…

Hello. 

If you know me, you know I cry at all of the books.

I decided to read two books in one day the other day. Both of them which would make me cry. 

Why did you decide that? I hear you cry.

BECAUSE I AM A FOOL. A FOOL.

However, since I read them both, I figured I would write quick reviews of them because they were BOTH incredible and they need to be read ok? Excellent. 

Image result for art of being normal

The Art of Being Normal – Lisa Williamson

Two boys. Two secrets.
David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl. On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in year eleven is definitely not part of that plan. When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long…

The Art of Being Normal tells the stories of David and Leotwo boys who are going through A LOT. David wants to be a girl: he knows he’s in the wrong body. Leo wants to be forgotten: he wants no attention. These two boys are so very different, but there’s something that they very much have in common (something I did NOT see coming). What you get when you put these two boys together is a brilliant story of unlikely friendships, solid bonds and an awful lot of tears! (I cried for the last 50 pages)

I loved this book so so much. The thing that stands out the most about this book is the incredible portrayal of relationships (between families, friends, enemies) and the power that these relationships have on our day to day life. You see the two boys’ relationship grow in front of your eyes and realise that sometimes the most important relationships you have in life are the non-romantic ones – it’s friendships built on love, respect and acceptance. You get to explore the incredible relationships between siblings; with parents and their children; not only that but negative relationships like the one between bullies and their victim; misunderstood relationships between parents and children. 

This book doesn’t shy away from the issues around a main character who is transgender and I really respect that. There’s discussions about all kinds of thtmes: clothing, acceptance, body image, coming out to parents, coming out to friends, bullying. I think this book has a place in every teenager’s life and I think it’s important. I don’t know why it’s stayed on my TBR for so long. If you haven’t picked it up yet you absolutely should. I want to give Leo a massive hug because I adore him.

Image result for they both die at the end uk

They Both Die at the End – Adam Silvera

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.

Imagine living in a world where you get a phone call to tell you that you’re going to die that same day. JUST HOLD THAT IN YOUR HEAD FOR A MINUTE. IMAGINE THAT. (I can’t, it’s too big an idea for my head, I don’t know where I would start, who I would see, what I would do. I think I’d be too overwhelmed and just cry for a day) This book explores a world where this is the reality. A reality for two teenagers who are told they’re going to die before midnight. 

We meet Rufus and Mateo, two very different boys, who have been given their call. They’ve got one more day on this earth. Mateo needs someone to help him along on his day otherwise he’ll just end up in his bedroom all day. He needs to tell his dad he loves him and his best friend. Rufus needs to say bye to his family, to the girl he loves. These two meet and what happens is a wonderful story about how sometimes you can meet the person you need most when you need them most.

The two boys grow together and change massively through the day. Rufus starts his story beating someone up and by the end his actions couldn’t be more gentle and caring. Rufus doesn’t push Mateo to do the things: he’s just there and him being there makes Mateo more brave. These boys do more for each other in one day than I think some people can do for each other in years. 

This book BROKE MY HEART. It tells us in the title what’s going to happen, but my god I was NOT prepared. Typical Adam Silvera breaking my heart. Again, you need to read this book. It’s just wonderful and it makes you think. 

There we go – two books, one day, LOT OF TEARS. 

RECOMMEND ME MORE BOOKS THAT WILL MAKE ME CRY.

I love a good cry!

S x 

Final half term contemplations…

Ello, ello, ello

So for those of you who are new around here, hi, I’m Steph, an NQT in a gorgeous little primary school in Newcastle. I love my job, I love where I work, I have the best colleagues in the world. My road to teaching hasn’t been conventional, but I got there in the end. I was a TA for 4 years, then I became a HLTA, then I realised that yes in fact teaching was the thing that I wanted to do for the rest of time, so I got my degree (as well as working full time) and then, last year, I finally qualified. So this year has been my NQT year. I work with a brilliant bunch of kids who make me laugh EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Now that we’re at my final half term, I’m just gonna share some musings, some thoughts, some questions, some wonderings about my final half term and maybe, just maybe, what I would like the future to hold.

  • Teaching is completely and utterly for me.
    It’s hard, it’s really exhausting at times and there’s more things to think about than brain space sometimes, but it’s the only thing I want to be doing for the rest of time (cause let’s be real, I’m going to be working until I’m 100). I invite anyone who thinks my job is “easy” to come and join me for a day or two… then you’ll see.
  • The politics of teaching is just ridiculous at times.
    I try not to get involved in the politics of teaching, but there is more of it than I realiased and that’s not fun. I get it, I get it, but man, I came into teaching to be a teacher, not a politician.
  • I do this job because I love it, but yes the holidays are great.
    People are ALWAYS commenting on this… and yes I can’t get away from the fact that the amount of holidays I get is wonderful (I would never deny this) but equally half terms are NEEDED.
  • I want to enjoy teaching for a while.
    People ask me (quite regularly) about going into management and senior leadership and while that’s not something I don’t want, I didn’t qualify just so I could be on someone’s SLT. It would be great to find myself with the responsibility of being a leader one day, but not just yet. I wanna actually master this craft before I try my hand at something else. One day I would like to see myself as a leader, but at the minute I don’t see headship in my future.
  • The subjects I thought would be the scariest haven’t been.
    I was DREADING teaching PE, absolutely dreading it, but actually, it’s become one of my favourite things to teach. Is it the thing I’m best at teaching? Gosh no, but it’s just so FUN. I’ve HAD to open my eyes and upskill myself and that’s been great.
  • Twitter is a wonderful platform for teachers.
    Do I feel like an imposter at times? Yes.
    Do I think why do these people care about what I think at times? Yes.
    Do I sometimes worry that my voice isn’t needed? Yes.
    But let me tell you, twitter teachers are the best, most caring and giving people you can come across. Find yourself a bunch of teachers who make you laugh, challenge you professionally and who support you and you’re laughing. I’m so very lucky that I found my tweacher friends quite quickly and they’re the best bunch ever.
  • Don’t be scared to get involved in conversations and attend events.
    There are so many conversations happening all the time and if you’re passionate about something then join in. People will challenge what you think and people will support what you think – if you’ve got the gusto to go out there and talk about something you’re passionate about do it. Yes there’ll be people who say things to antagonise you, but you choose the conversations you join in and the people you surround yourself with. There are SO SO many teaching events to get along to so get yourself out there and do it (it’s terrifying, but it’s worth it). Look up #BrewEd – there’s bound to be one near you happening.
  • Some lessons won’t go to plan and that’s life.
    I beat myself up SO SO MUCH about this and slowly, I’m realising that I’m human and bad lessons happen. It doesn’t make me a bad teacher, it just means I need to take a step back and think about why it didn’t go as well as I thought. I never did quite understand the whole “doing reflections” thing from my SCITT, but now it’s something I do without even realising (rarely are they written down, but it’s all in my head and it’s all useful)
  • It’s not a bad thing to ask for help.
    Asking for help is such an important tool. I encourage my kids to do it ALL THE BLOODY TIME but I’m so bad at it because I see it as a weakness (isn’t that mad?!) but I’ve got better. I’m still not great at it, but I’m getting there.
  • Ask all of the questions, even if you think they’re stupid questions
    THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A STUPID QUESTION. Say it again. Ask it again because you might not get the chance to ask it again.
  • Stick to your guns about something
    If you believe in something, or you think something isn’t right, then stick with your gut. I’ve had to do this a few times this year and I’ve been right every time. If there’s one thing I believe in in this job it’s that teachers know their kids. If something’s not right with your job, your workload, you, one of your kids, talk to someone about it. People are generally ridiculously supportive.

I have a load more to say but I’ve already rattled on for 1000 words (sorry guys).

I’ve loved my NQT year with all of my heart. It’s been exhausting, incredible, moving, frustrating, emotional and so many other words. I know this is just the first step up a VERY BLOODY LONG staircase, but it’s the only staircase I wanna climb

Thanks for sticking with me. If you’ve got any questions or anything you wanna say, please just let me know. I’m a bit inconsistent with my teacher posts, but I think it’s something I’d like to do more of.

You’re all amazing. Let’s have a brilliant final summer half term! 

S x

A-Z Book Tag

Hola friends and amigos and people alike!

BONUS SATURDAY POST.

I saw this over on Charlotte’s blog recently and thought it seemed like a fun tag to take on… so here is my:

A-Z Book Tag

Author you’ve read the most books from: 

Hmmm… probably Matt Haig, Melinda Salisbury or Roald Dahl. 

Best Sequel Ever: 

Best sequel EVER? Are you having a giraffe? Golly gosh and gah. Song of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury is pretty epic. Simply the Quest by Maz Evans is brilliant. Fierce Fragile Hearts by Sara Barnard is WELL WORTH A READ. I can’t choose one and you can’t make me.

Currently Reading: 

Evie and the Animals by Matt Haig. I bought it and then I was reading something else, but then it kept whispering to me, so I had to pick it up and read it!

Drink of Choice While Reading: 

A bit like Charlotte, it depends WHERE I’m reading. If I’m in Starbucks, it’ll be an iced coffee (usually), but if I’m at home, it’ll be a cup of tea or a can of Diet Coke.

E-reader or Physical Book?: 

NORMALLY physical book because I am TERRIBLE at remembering to charge my kindle!

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School: 

LOL. Erm… I’d love to say someone like Izzy O’Neill because she’s BRILLIANT but in real life I’m far too shy and she’s far too cool for me.

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance: 

Like Charlotte, I’m glad I gave Circe by Madeline Miller a shot. It’s not what I would usually read BUT MY GOSH I LOVED IT. (Queen Mel recommended it, so who am I to ignore her?!)

Hidden Gem book:

The Paper Magician trilogy by Charlie N Holmberg. Guys you need to stop sleeping on ths trilogy.

Important Moment in your Reading Life:

Reading Matilda. It’s one of the first books I have VIVID memories of reading and thinking “oh my gosh, THIS is why books are so special” but it also introduced me to Miss Honey who is my absolute hero teacher.

Just Finished: 

The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell. Really great and funny adventure!

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:
There’s very few genre of books that are OUT of my line of sight, but anything too scary and I am like NOPE NOPE NO THANKS. Also, don’t throw me anything boring. I don’t do that life. Life’s too short to read boring books.

Longest Book You’ve Read

Hmmm… maybe one of the Rebel of the Sands books? They get pretty hefty BUT so so worth it!

Major book hangover because of:

Man, I get book hangovers after most books. The biggest book hangover recently though was probably Song of Sorrow because man, I was NOT ready for that. OR No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter because that book is EVERYTHING I need.

Number of Bookcases You Own: 

One. I know. A bookish gal like me. I need more thanks.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

Long time readers of this blog will know that I’m not really a re-reader, but Matilda is probably one of the few books I’ve reread. Also Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Milwood Hargrave. That book is exceptional.

Preferred Place To Read:

SOMEWHERE COMFY

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read: 

I JUST HAVE LOADS. Don’t make me choose one okay?

Reading Regret: 

Reading books that I probably didn’t want to get to the end of? I’m quite stubborn in that if I start a book I WILL get to the end.

Series You Started And Need To Finish (all books are out in series):

Oooooh. I shall have to consult the oracle that is Goodreads to see if this is a thing in my life. I do not know. I shall have to have a think!

Three of your All-Time Favourite Books: 

LOLOL. Who are you kidding? I think we all know the answer to this question (it would feature Mel and Sara… we know).
So, I’m going to do with 3 of my favourite books I’ve read recently (breaking the rules, deal with it):
Jemima Small versus the Universe by Tamsin Winter
Meat Market by Juno Dawson
No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:

The Toll by Neal Shusterman. It’s the 3rd book in the Scythe trilogy and I NEED IT NOW.

Worst Bookish Habit: 

I don’t have any bad bookish habits. I am a delight
(Reading books and then not writing my review/notes for weeks and then coming to write my review and then having no recollection of what the book was about and just knowing that I loved it and everyone should read it but not being able to put that into cohesive words and phrases)

Your latest book purchase: 

Evie and the Animals by Matt Haig.

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late): 

Hmmm… Shadowscent by P.M.Freestone. That book is WELL WORTH staying up late for. WELL WORTH. Please go and read it.

That was well worth the time!

If you fancy doing this tag, GO FOR IT!

Let me know if any of my answers surprised you, or if you have any comments. I’d love to talk!

S x

BLOG POST: Morag Hood

Morning friends!

Today we have a very special post from author Morag Hood who is here to talk about how she came up with her character Sophie Johnson and how she developed. 

Sophie front

I love hosting authors because it’s really interesting getting an inside peek at their creative processes. 

Where did the idea for Sophie come from and how did she develop?

The character of Sophie initially came about when I was thinking about picture books in general. One of the things I like most about the format is the tension that can be created between the words and the pictures. I’ve always especially enjoyed books where the reader knows what is going on better than the characters themselves. I think I am probably quite in touch with my inner four-year-old and I seem to remember relishing that feeling of being in on the joke and being smarter than the characters in a book. It was with this in mind that I started playing around with the idea of the main character being oblivious to what is going on around them, and Sophie started to emerge.

She has been such a fun character to write and develop. She is very forthright and certain, despite not necessarily having understood a situation, and she loves to explain everything, while in actual fact knowing very little about what is truly going on! Once I worked out her voice and perspective on life, I started to come up with scenarios in which she could shine.

My editor at Simon & Schuster, Helen Mackenzie Smith, gave me a brilliant note about thinking of Sophie as giving an interview about herself and I try to hold that in my head whenever I am writing for Sophie. The first book, Unicorn Expert, came about partly because it was the first book I was writing for someone else to illustrate and I tried to think of something I wasn’t very keen on drawing but would be fun for another illustrator! And then I had so much fun with the first one that I wanted to give Sophie some other things to do. She became a Detective Genius because, as well as having a personal love of detective stories, I felt it would give lots of room for her getting things wrong and missing some fairly obvious clues. I always enjoyed the rather hapless police officers who are outwitted by clever detectives such as Hercule Poirot, or Jessica Fletcher, so having Sophie outwitted by her dog seemed to fit well into her world.

Sophie Johnson has been such a fun character to create and work with, dancing the fine line of being over-confident while still being likeable. I think a lot of that likeability comes from Ella Okstad’s joyful illustrations. It really has been a treat to see how the book has come together with Ella’s input. The pictures are so full of life and really help to make Sophie endearing.

Sophie Johnson: Detective Genius is a WONDERFUL picture book and it has the most incredible cover. It is sparkly goodness. 

9781471145650

Sophie Johnson studied very hard to become a detective and it’s a good thing she did – there has been a terrible crime!
Someone has stolen Lion’s tail. Unfortunately, this means that Sophie doesn’t have time to train her new (and not very good) assistant, Bella. However, is it possible that, while Sophie is busy rounding up suspects, she doesn’t see that Bella may be better than she thinks?
The Sophie Johnson series is perfect for bright young minds and great fun to read aloud as children spot what’s really happening in the story right under Sophie’s nose!

Sophie Johnson: Detective Genuis is out now! You should all go and pick it up!

Massive thank you to Morag and the publishers at Simon and Schuster for inviting me to share this wonderful blog post! Happy reading!

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

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands…

*clap clap*

Todrick Hall songs. Talking about old TV shows. Spending the day on the beach with my kids. The sunshine. Old photographs. Cringing at some memories. Starbucks Sundays. Making plans with friends. Making plans with myself. Being ok by myself. Texting new people. Texting old faves. Witchy Trio laughs. Being so proud of friends. Knowing I have the most considerate best friends in the world. The excitement about having a new member of the family soon. Half term. Taking time to look after myself. Reading books. Buying new books. Drag Race. Miss Vanjie. Tidying. Finally finding something in the supermarket I’ve been looking for for weeks. Twitter teacher friends. Time. Space. Exciting plans. Going to London to celebrate excellent books. Knowing there’s only 6 weeks of being an NQT life. The things that are coming in the future. Being slightly terrified, but knowing it’s all good. My goddaughters. Having a cry. The seaside. Supportive friends. Picking up whatever books I want and reading them. My kids EMBRACING our ‘Mystery book’. My kids loving books in all of their guises. Excitement for YALC. Basically, all of the bookish things. Always books. 

 

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

Book Box Club: Purely Books Subscription

Hello! 

How are we all?

Today I’m here to talk about EXCITING book post. We all love book post, don’t we? What if you could treat yourself to book post every month? WELL YOU CAN with Book Box Club!

What is Book Box Club?

Book Box Club is a subscription box and secret society for the bookish folk. Book Box Club have two different subscription options:

Book Box Club Subscription – each month, you will receive a gift-wrapped, brand new, YA book, an invitation to their online book club and a selection of themed goodies to match the book you’ve been sent.

Purely Books Subscription – each month, you’ll receive a featured read and an invitation to their online book group. 

All postage to the UK is free, but Book Box Club do send parcels all around the world (postage costs apply).

Purely Books Subscription

The Purely Books Subscription is perfect for the bookish reader like me: I love books, but I don’t collect a lot of bookish goodies. If you’re a bit like me, then the Purely Book subscription is perfect for you! Regardless of the subscription you choose, you get the same book, so when it comes to the online chat, everyone can share in the bookish chat! 

If you’d like to sign up for a subscription, you can get to Book Box Club’s website HERE and use the code BLOGARMY5 to get a discount on your first Purely Books or Book Box Club subscription. (5% off a three month Purely Books Subscription or month-to-month Book Box Club Subscription).

My Experience

Bold and Brave was the theme for April: I received an email on to say my book was on its way and it arrived 2 days later! What’s that for service! Since it was only a book, it fit through the letterbox (so no hassling your neighbours, no waiting for it and no having to collect it from the post office: perfection!).

My book was wrapped in silver paper and tied with very cute blue and white string. It also came with an envelope with my name on – now that is the kind of personal touch I love! Inside the envelope was an invite to the Clubhouse (which is the book club) on with the details of Bold & Brave book group. In the book group, you get the chance to talk to the author, ask any questions you have and make new friends. New BOOKISH friends… the best kind of friends in my humble opinion!

The book

I was chuffed when I realised what the book was! I have heard so much about this book. I haven’t read anything by Zoe Marriott and this makes me so happy. I know there’s been a lot of controversy around this book, but it’s one of those that I’d like to read. That cover is GORGEOUS too… I mean who wouldn’t want to pick this up? It has REAL shelf appeal! 

You can’t beat a good signed book plate too! *swoon* and look at that print (this is in fact the back of the information about the Clubhouse, dual purpose win!)

I love the idea of a Purely Book subscription. For a reader like me who just wants the books and not the extras that go with it, it’s PROPER perfect. I loved the personalised invite and the themed invite too! I am extremely happy with my experience so far! Keep your eyes peeled for my thoughts on the book club! 

Thank you so much to Libby and Kate for inviting me to be in the Blogger Army! Don’t forget you my discount code! 

Have you subscribed to any book boxes?
Have you read this book?
What kind of books would you love to receive?

Speak soon!

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Ada Twist

Ada Twist: a funny story which is jam packed with Science and fun!

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“Ada Twist is full of questions. A scientist to her very core, Ada asks why again and again. One question always leads to another until she’s off on a journey of discovery! When Rosie Revere’s Uncle Ned gets a little carried away wearing his famous helium pants, it’s up to Ada and friends to chase him down. As Uncle Ned floats farther and farther away, Ada starts asking lots of questions: How high can a balloon float? Is it possible for Uncle Ned to float into outer space? And what’s the best plan for getting him down?”

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Ada is one of those lovely characters to read! She’s constantly questioning things. Why does her mam’s coffee smell stronger than her dad’s? Why do her brothers shoes stink? What kind of birds can she see in her back yard? How can she solve these problems? How can she do things that will help people? I love this about Ada. Kids SHOULD be inquisitive creatures: they SHOULD want to know more. We should encourage this with our children.

It’s a good job she asks so many questions because she ends up seeing a man in strange pants floating in her back yard… and she has to come up with a solution! With the help of her friends, they go on an adventure filled with Science and problem solving to get Uncle Ned down! 

Ada uses what she knows about everything to get Uncle Ned down. She’s a very clever little bean and she knows things about more Science than I do! Gas, buoyancy, temperature… all sorts! She uses all of this knowledge to get the uncle down, and save him from peril! Her friends try to help her, but ultimately, it’s Ada’s Science knowledge that ends up saving the day! I love that she never gives up either – she keeps trying, even when her plans don’t go smoothly. 

I really love these books. They are fun with short chapters and they are brilliantly illustrated. I love that these characters are encouraging STEM! These books are perfect for children who are just starting to read longer chapter books… AND perfect for those with scientific, or inquisitive, minds. I learned some things reading this, so children are definitely going to!

A massive massive shout out to David Roberts for his illustrations. They make this book even more incredible in my eyes! I am DIGGING this purple and brown theme in the book. Look how stylish Ada’s mam is man – I wish I was that stylish. 

I love this series so much and I can’t wait to see what’s coming next. These books go from strength to strength and you can bet that they’re going to keep going! If you don’t have this book, or the picture books, I would STRONGLY encourage you to! 

A massive thank you to the publishers, Abrams and Chronicle, for sending me a copy for review! I just adore these books and I know they have a place in every house, library and classroom!

S x