BOOK BLOG: Sinead O’Hart

The Star Spun Web: what would you do if you discovered you held one of the most incredible pieces of scientific gadgetry in your hand?!

img_4853(Star Spun Web kept me company on the train to London recently… and it gripped me STRAIGHT away!)

“With her passion for scientific experimentation and her pet tarantula Violet, Tess de Sousa is no ordinary orphan. When a stranger shows up at Ackerbee’s Home for Lost and Foundlings, claiming to be a distant relative come to adopt her, Tess hopes to find some answers to her mysterious origins. But as she adjusts to her new life at Roedeer Lodge, it becomes clear that Norton F. Cleat knows more about Tess – and the strange star-shaped device left with her when she was abandoned as a baby – than he’s letting on. And when Tess discovers that the Starspinner is the gateway between her world and a parallel world in which war rages, she realizes she may be the key to a terrible plan. A plan she must stop at all costs…”

The Star Spun Web is the second book from the brilliant Sinead O’Hart – author of the wonderful Eye of the North – and man, it’s A TOTAL RIDE. 

The Star Spun Web tells the story of young Tess, who is living at an orphanage, having been left there by her father in strange circumstances. Tess knows very little about her family, only that she was left at Ackerbee’s Home for Lost and Foundlings when she was a baby and has lived there ever since. There are family secrets aplenty for Tess to discover, but when an ominous ‘uncle’ appears out of nowhere to claim her, she has to upheave her life and move to his MASSIVE mansion. 

Now this all sounds wonderful, moving away from an orphanage to a massive mansion… but Tess loves her life at Ackerbee’s. She’s got friends, there’s adults there who genuinely love her – she doesn’t want to leave with this strange man who has appeared out of nowhere. If you pair these emotions with a strange gadget that is handed to her before she leaves, Tess is well and truly confused. All she knows about this gadget is that it was left with her when she was left at Ackerbee’s… so it must have been important. 

Once Tess has moved from the orphanage, what follows is a complete and utter rollercoaster of science, finding your feet and fighting for what you know is right. 

I loved Tess. She’s such an incredible main character. She’s intelligent, witty, charming. She thinks for herself. She stands up for herself. She fights for her friends. She isn’t afraid to be brave and do her own thinking – big or small thinking, it’s all scary at the end of the day! I loved Violet too… I know… me! Saying positive things about a spider! I think it’s the thing that Violet represents for me that I love. We all need a “constant” in our lives – be it your mam, dad, brother, a friend, a cousin – to keep us grounded, and that’s what Violet did for Tess. 

A brilliant main character, some friends who help her along the way, and some baddies. Oh the baddies. They’re clever and wily. I don’t wanna spoil it too much… but obviously things don’t end up being what they seem. People have ulterior motives. There’s SHOCKS aplenty with some of the characters (one of them floored me at one point). 

I absolutely adored all of the science of this book too. It’s accessible and out there, but it’s explained in such a way that it won’t go over the top of kids’ heads – if I can understand it, then you’ve got a winner! 

This is a brilliantly meaty book to get your teeth stuck into. It’s pretty long for a MG book, but it’s perfect for Year 5s and 6s. It’s gone down wonderfully with my 5s so far. A few quick snippets from 2 children who’ve read it so far:

“It’s a load of fun because it’s really clever. Plus Tess is a great character. I’d love to be her friend”

“Imagine moving to a mansion but then someone wanting to use you to do something terrible? I don’t wanna be in Tess’ position ever, but she’s clever and makes the right choice”

My goodreads review:

I loved this absolute ride! The brilliant characters, the fascinating science, the incredible plot and the brilliant sidekicks. Man, I REALLY hope there’ll be a second one!

Thank you to the brilliant publishers at Stripes for my copy. I’ve since bought 2 more copies for school!

Thanks for coming along! Speak to you all soon! 

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: Nicola Killeen

Ollie’s Magic Bunny: a beautifully illustrated and charming story, perfect for bedtime!

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“Ollie and her toy Bunny have been waiting for the day that the rain would stop and they can play in the puddles… Finally that day has arrived! But when a magical breeze of blossom turns Bunny into a real rabbit, Ollie’s day takes an unexpected turn. After Bunny runs off with the other rabbits, Ollie has to find and save her beloved pet toy!”

Ollie’s Magic Bunny is a wonderfully charming tale about Ollie and her bunny rabbit, who one blustery day ends up turning into a real rabbit. When Bunny turns into a real rabbit, it runs away from Ollie, and she must find different, ingenious I may add, ways in which to save Bunny! 

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Lots of children have a teddy that’s special to them, who they carry around with them constantly, so this will appeal to them. It would make a brilliant rainy day read, or a bed time read. It would make for a brilliant question: what would happen if your teddy came to life? Kids will come up with some weird and wonderful answers! 

Ollie has to be clever to follow her bunny as he goes across a big puddle of water, and jumps into the air – transforming her brilliant yellow umbrella into a boat and a parachute at different times!

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The colour palette for this book makes me so happy. It’s all yellow, green and grey. I’m particularly fond of Ollie’s bunny onesie and her yellow boots. The simplicity makes this so much more appealing. There’s cut outs and some beautiful gold foiling on the pages too… to make it even more pleasing to the eye! 

This is a gorgeous and sweet story that would go down brilliantly at bedtime, or any kind of story time. I look forward to reading it to my own bunch of wonderful kids at school! 

Thank you to the brilliant publishers, Simon and Schuster, for sending me a review copy! 

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Ana Seixas

Are you looking for an interactive book about the human body? Look no further than Scratch and Learn: Human Body!

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You can’t beat a good bit of non-fiction… but WHERE do you start? And how do you make it accessible to kids? How do you make it appealing? And how do you make it fun, without it taking away from the SCIENCE? 

This Scratch and Learn: Human Body book is BRILLIANT. 

Now, confession time: teaching Science isn’t where I think I excel. It scares me a bit. There’s a lot of facts, there’s a lot that I don’t know… so for me, books like this help me learn, as well as my kids LOVING them. A double win, if you will! 

JUST LOOK AT THAT.

There’s pages about all sorts of parts of the body, as well as facts and things for the kids to do as they read. (We have since scratched the black bits off and winner!) I love how all of the pages are simplistic, without being babyish. It’s totally child (and teacher) friendly!

Each double spread comes with some information (see left picture) and then some element of scratching and discovering (see right picture). This double spread on the brain I particularly enjoyed because it shows how complex the brain is without a total barrage of information.

There’s ALL SORTS of different topics covered in this book: you’ve got senses (perfect for KS1), muscles and the skeleton (KS2), digestion (KS2). 

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There’s loads of these brilliant activities jotted about through the book too. They’re such engaging, but small, activities for the kids to do to think scientifically and talk about science and what they notice. 

A massive thank you to Quarto for sending me a review copy of this – it’s a brilliant book that would sit beautifully in any classroom or home library for budding scientists! 

S x 

WOOOOOOAH WE’RE HALF WAY THERE…

The title for this blog has LITERALLY just come to me as I start to type. It is ironic in that it is both true and one of the things I’m going to be mentioning in this blog post.

So… we’re HALF WAY THROUGH THE ACADEMIC YEAR. 

Ahem. Yeah, that’s a thing. I’m half way done being an NQT. What a half a year it has been. I’ve laughed a lot. I’ve cried a bit. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve loved every second. I thought I’d share a happy post kind of thing about all of the things that have happened in my first half of my NQT year. Don’t get me wrong there have been some tough moments, but I’m all about celebrating the good.

So here goes, happy memories of my first half of the year:

Being poorly and my kids listening. Working with my brilliant colleagues. Every time we receive a letter from an author and seeing their joy. Singing Livin’ on a Prayer at the school disco. Watching my kids at the Christmas play, having worked their arses off for 3 weeks of rehearsals. Pictures and poems “for you Miss”. “Miss, can I show you this I did last night?”. Watching them go home at night with smiles on their faces. Delivering two whole school collective worships and them just being brilliant humans. Seeing them start to share their opinions. Watching them grow in confidence and comfort. The amount of progress they’ve made in half a year. Working on Greek myths with them. The confidence with which they use mathematical vocabulary. Putting up my first Christmas tree. The sheer dogged determined-ness of some of them. Their brilliant attitudes. Asking them what my 3 most used phrases are and laughing at their responses. “I love being in your class Miss, you’re dead funny… sometimes”. How quickly they embrace change. Learning Mandarin together. Having an opinion that is not only listened to but encourages. Making mistakes and learning together. Building our very own Nowhere Emporium. Watching them create their own dance routines and seeing some of them just shine. Seeing their enthusiasm for EVERYTHING. Encouraing them to question everything and watching them get to grips with it. Their incredible resilience. Their love of singing. Listening to the radio. Every time they catch me out. Saying good morning every single morning. Every time we have laughed together. Having 200 children sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to me. Seeing them take on some BIG questions and embrace it. Looking to the future. Talking about books and them devouring everything. Meeting Lisa Thompson and my kids’ faces just lighting up. Challenging myself. Challenging the children. Positive feedback about my books. Struggling. Knowing I work with some of the most brilliant people. Growing as a person and a teacher. Laughing about dating advice. Laughing in the staff room. My terror every time I’m observed. Constantly learning and striving to be the best teacher I can possibly be. Listening to new artists with them. Story time. Hearing lovely things about their progress. Seeing their progress with my own eyes. Knowing that every day I get to go into work and work with them. Challenging their thinking about themselves and others. Allowing them space to be who they are, without judgement. Being the teacher I am, without them judging me! Listening and being heard. Allowing reading and writing for pleasure to be a thing, and for them to ASK for it. Going in every day and smiling.

I am grateful EVERY SINGLE DAY that I get to do the one thing I know I was meant to do for the rest of my life. Bring on the second half of this year – whatever challenges you have to throw at me, I will embrace them. Year 5 and I will get through them together. 

#CelebrateYA

HELLO.

IT IS ME. Your resident YA loving bookworm. 

Recently, there’s been a lot of MEH-ness about YA books and its decline (?? not in my life lols). I saw this tweet from the brilliant YA author Lisa Williamson and thought ‘YES. I WANT TO BE PART OF THIS MOVEMENT.’

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So here I am today to do just that… I am HERE to celebrate YA. To shout about how brilliant it is, how necessary it is, recommend some of my favourite YA books of the past few years and to inspire you all to go out and either share your favourite YA books OR to just pick up something new. Your local Waterstones will have a YA section, go and explore… I guarantee you’ll find something that you’ll love.

So, why YA?

I get asked this question A LOT. “Why do you, as an adult, read books marketed at teens and young adults?” and the simple answer is because YA books are BLOODY MARVELLOUS.

YA books don’t shy away from some pretty tough subjects. If I think of some of my favourite YA books they’re about hard hitting topics: love, loss, heartbreak, friendships, OCD, manipulation, empowerment.

YA books MOVE so much faster than adult books. The pacing, the characters, the plots… they’re just SO MUCH MORE INTERESTING.

YA books start conversations. If you look at The Hate U Give for example (a book I still haven’t read… I know, I might be the only YA reader IN THE WORLD who hasn’t!) that had a BIG impact. That made people start talking. Another example of a book that got my little twitter YA worls talking is the brilliant The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven. This book deserves ALL of the praise it gets. It is BLOODY incredible and makes some REALLY bloody important points.

YA books will make you think, feel and want to act. We all know I cry at every book (that’s just who I am) but some of the books that have hit me the hardest have been YA books. If I think about Countless by Karen Gregory for example… man, I read that book almost 2 years ago and STILL now it makes me tear up. They don’t just make me cry though. They make me angry, they make me laugh, they make me hopeful.

YA is doing a lot for representation. People want to be seen. People want to have their stories heard. Finding yourself represented in a book can change a lot of things. Last year I read a book that I remember vividly feeling seen and MY GOD it was a bit of a punch in the face. For so long, books have been written about the same group of people and YA is slowly changing that. I know what it’s like to be seen, I know how important it can be. The brilliant people of Stripes have published an anthology full of LGBTQ+ books and it’s going to make waves.

There are so so many other reasons why you should read YA. I will stand on this I LOVE YA pedestal whether anyone is listening or not.

So, where do I start?

Now, just because I recommend these books doesn’t mean these are the only books that you should read because LET’S BE REAL there are so so many, but here are some of my absolute favourites (authors/stories) from the past few years. Some of these won’t be a surprise to long time readers of my blog, some of them may!

In there you have books that will make you laugh, cry, anger you, move you, make you think about life. You have representation of all sorts of relationships. You’ve got books which span genres. You’ve got books from some of my favourite authors in the world. There’s books there that changed something for me. There’s books I’ve read that I’ve felt seen in. There’s books that have made me change my thinking about things.

I loved them all and they’re ALL YA.

OK, so I could keep going. I really could. I won’t. I want this to be a conversation, not Steph’s Lecture on Why YA is Something The World Needs. Talk to me. Why do you want to #celebrateYA?

Every day this month, I pledge to #celebrateYA. Starting tomorrow (Valentines Day) I’m going to #celebrateYA by sharing one YA book I love!

Now let’s keep the conversation going:

What was the last YA book you read?
What’s the next YA book you’re going to read?
Why do you think we need to #celebrateYA?

I really really want the conversation about YA to continue. So talk to me, tweet, whatever. Get it out there that YA is a thing and we need it to stay a thing!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Cory Leonardo

Call Me Alastair: touching, charming and filled me with hope!

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“Born in the back of a pet store, Alastair the African grey parrot dreams of escape, to fly off with his beloved sister, Aggie. But when Aggie is purchased by 12-year-old Fritz, and Alastair is adopted by Mrs Albertina Plopky, Alastair’s hopeful vision for the future crash-lands. In-between anxiously plucking his feathers, chewing a few books, and finding his own poetic voice, Alastair plots his way to Aggie and their flight to freedom.

This debut novel is a heart-felt, bird’s-eye view of love and what it means to break free from the cages we build for ourselves- and the courage it may take to finally let go.”

It’s not every day you pick up a book that is written from the perspective of a grey parrot, and I’m not going to lie… that was half of the reason I picked it up. The other half was the cover. JUST LOOK AT THAT COVER MAN. However, once I’d picked it up and started it, I found a book that packed a punch, had some BRILLIANT messages and made me feel ALL of the feelings. 

Call Me Alastair follows the story of Alastair, an African grey parrot, who loves poetry, his sister and cherries, and his exploration of freedom, love and loss. When we start the book, he’s living in the pet shop surrounded by some brilliantly hilarious fellow pet shop inhabitants. It was so lovely to read a book told through the eyes of a parrot – it’s not often you get to read a book from an animal’s perspective and that was totally refreshing. It really really helps that he’s really endearing too! 

As the book progresses, we get to the inevitable – the two parrots (Alastair and his sister) have to be separated. Aggie is taken in by a brilliant young man, Fritz, who has aspirations of being a doctor and Alastair is taken in by Bertie, a wonderful old woman. What ensues is an adventure to try to get his sister back, while trying to ensure that everyone around him stays happy. 

We see this story through three different perspectives and I think my favourite was Bertie’s – the old woman who decides to buy Alastair. She decides to buy Alastair to help with her loneliness, broke my heart. She writes letters to her husband. It was heartbreaking to read these letters to him. She just wants someone to talk to, and as always in life, you find these things in the most unlikely of places! 

Alastair is a brilliant character to read because he’s quite dimensional (as much as an African grey aprrot can be I guess!) There are so many nods to sadness from Alastair, and in an MG book it’s important. It’s important for kids to know that you can feel sad and that people will care about you and try to help! He’s funny, sweet and charming. I really liked him! 

My Goodreads review does the honours of reviewing this book in a much more concise way:

A brilliantly moving tale about a young parrot who wants bigger and better things for him and his sister than the shop they live in. This book made me cry, made me laugh and made me hopeful – that’s not something you say after reading many books from a parrots perspective. I love Bertie – she made this book for me! I loved the mixed narrative – Alastair’s perspective through narrative and poetry; Bertie’s perspective through her letters and Fritz’s perspective through his log. Just a lush book.

Call Me Alastair is out now! A massive thank you to publishers Scholastic for sending me a copy to review!

What was the last book you read that was told from the perspective of an animal?
Which animal would you love to see the perspective of?
If you were an animal, what animal would you like to be?

Talk to me! I’d love to talk!

S x 

BLOG TOUR: Will You Catch Me?

Today, I have the pleasure of hosting author Jane Elson on my blog as part of the blog tour for Will You Catch Me? 

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“Nell Hobs lives with a tortoise called Bob Marley, guinea pigs Asbo and Chaos, goldfish Beyoncé and Destiny, gerbils Fizz and Tyrone, Aunty Lou the Hamster … and her mum, who drinks too much. Nell does everything she can to be a good daughter so that her mum will stop. But when things get really hard, Nell stands on her head. Everything looks better upside down, don’t you know?

Nell wishes she knew who her dad was. When new teacher Mr Samuels makes history come alive and tells the class the story of Nell Gwynn, the Orange Girl who became one of the first actresses on the London stage, Nell is captivated and is determined to dress up as an Orange Girl for the Costume Parade. She hatches a plan with her best friend Michael: a way to make her dad step forward and claim her. Will she succeed?”

With a Little Help From My Friends: The highs and lows of friendship for the child of alcoholic

Oh, the complexities of schoolgirl friendships! Especially Years 4-7, it’s such a complex thing, often invisible to the adult world.

For children who have an alcohol dependent parent making friends in school can be nearly impossible. How can you have a sleepover or even have someone home to tea when mum or dad might be drunk?

Nell Hobs in my book Will You Catch Me? has a mother who is alcohol dependent and she has fallen out with best friend, Chantal Smith before the story even begins.

‘Chantal and I used to be friends, only she kept wanting to come round to my flat and I just couldn’t have her there, not with my mum the way she is. Chantal kept on and on about coming round, so I started ignoring her and now she hates me.’

Nell’s new best friend is Michael, a looked after child, who lives next door to Nell on the Beckham Estate with Aunty Lou. His mother has had a nervous breakdown and is being taken care of by relatives in Jamaica. His father is a busy business man who rarely sees him. These two vulnerable children stick together like glue. He is the perfect friend because he knows and understands the situation with Nell’s mum.

I had a lot of fun creating Michael. He is a genius and wants to be an inventor when he grows up. He is constantly taking things to pieces for his inventions and causing havoc! His wardrobe, the lock on the bathroom door, his school chair and so on. Michael is flamboyant in his dress preferring waistcoats, bright spotty patterned shirts and bow ties to trainers and tracksuits. This makes him stand out and he is bullied by the Beckham Street Boyz, the gang on his estate and the T Crew from the neighbouring Tarkey House Estate. Then one day he invents a remote control for the school clock and they get out of maths 45 minutes early. Michael, becomes a hero! He has earned respect and is nick named Prof M. Nell and Michael can now walk about the estate freely.

The complexities of school life are hard as fitting in seems to be the way to survive. Anyone who is different and stands out from the crowd has a rocky ride at some stage in their lives but often go on to achieve great things.

Nell and Michael’s friendship is strong, beautiful and I hope touching to my readers. Nell is not perfect; she is so driven by her desire to fix her mum and find out who her dad is that she fails to notice how much Michael is missing his mum.

She is also bossy and tells Michael what to do which leads to a dramatic climax to the story but I won’t spoil the ending of Will You Catch Me?. I loved writing about Nell and Michael’s friendship. They became my friends as I wrote the book and now that it is finished and out in the world I miss them dearly.

I believe that every child has the right to see themselves reflected in a book. I feel Will You Catch Me? is the most important story I have ever written. Not every one of the 2.6 million children who have a parent who drinks too much, like Nell does, is lucky enough to have a friend like Michael.

Nacoa- the National Association of children of Alcoholics- has a message. You are not alone. This week is COA Week- Children Of Alcoholics Week to raise awareness for children like Nell in Will you catch Me? If you are reading this and are one of those children, please phone The National Association For Children Of Alcoholics helpline number is 0800-358-3456 to talk to someone in confidence.

The National Association For Children Of Alcoholics (Nacoa) has a message for children like Nell. It is ‘You are not alone’. Their helpline number is 0800-358-3456. Children of Alcoholics week (10-16 February) aims to raise awareness of the lives of the 2.6 million children in the UK who are growing up affected by parental alcohol problems. For further information, including ways you can help and a downloadable #URNotAlone poster, please visit their website www.coaweek.org.uk or www.nacoa.org.uk

A massive thank you to Jane for writing this post and an equally big thank you to Fritha for asking me to be part of this blog tour!

Check out the rest of the blog tour, I know there promises to be some more brilliant posts coming up!

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S x

February bullet journal

Hello friends!

How are you all? What’s going on in your world?

Last year, I bullet journal’d really well for the first half of the year, but then it tapered off and I just didn’t dedicate as much time to as I should have. This year, I bought myself a new bujo and I found a newly invigorated passion for it. I didn’t share my January set up (because by the time I had remembered January was almost over and my bujo was mostly filled in), but here I am to share my February set up with you all!

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Yes, I went predictable with the whole ‘love’ theme of my title page. Don’t judge me! I’m also really feeling a colour scheme this year. January’s colour sceme was grey and purple (which I LOVED). February’s colour scheme is red and pink.

Next up, I’ve got something new in my bullet journal – a monthly overview and the new addition of quotes in my bujo. I added some in January and I just found them lush, so I’ve stuck with quotes for Feb too. So I’ve done a “monthly overview” type of page. The coloured in days are days when something is happening (yay for half term!) and the grey coloured in days are days which are NOT February. I’ve other things to add to this, but I kinda dig it. 

Then we have the bookish pages in my bujo. The postbox page is OBVIOUSLY a page for my book post. I was much better at keeping track of my book post in January, so I’m hoping that will continue into February.  I have no idea where the inspiration behind the post box came from… but I like it! It’s fun. On the other page, we have a bedside cabinet with my “books I’ve read this month” pile on it! As you can see I’ve already read one book this month (it was The Extinction Trials: Rebel and it was BLOODY GREAT, my review is coming up this week!) and I need to add another book to the pile now! 

My final double spread (before my weekly spreads) is a mood/happiness duet. I saw this honeycomb thing on Google when I was looking for bujo inspo and didn’t have enough space for 28 different honeycombs, so I decided to half them and only use 14. The other side is my mood tracker – I’ve gone for the darker the colour, the darker my mood kind of thing (as you can see on the little gauge at the bottom). These pages end up being some of my faves when I look back through my bullet journals – it’s so important to find something positive EVERY day. There’s ALWAYS something positive to find… no matter how small!

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And then we come to my weekly spread – I’ve blanked out a few things that the world doesn’t need to know about my life. I’m going to admit that I’ve used brilliant Kelly (of Kelly’s Rambles) as inspiration here (you should totally check out her bullet journal posts… she’s like a bujo goddess). I wanted to change up my weekly spread because I wasn’t inspired by the one I used for January… and I think I love this a lot! There’s room to put any daily things, and then room for to do lists too – PERFECT.

And that’s it for now! Share your bujo posts with me… I’m always up for more inspiration and bujo love! 

Do you bullet journal?
What’s your favourite thing about journaling?
Do you have a spread that I don’t have?

Talk to me in the comments, I’d love to talk journaling with someone! 

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