BOOK BLOG: YA wrap up!

Hello everyone!

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

Scars like Wings by Erin Stewart

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

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

I Hold Your Heart by Karen Gregory

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

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

Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott

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

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

Dead Popular by Sue Wallman

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

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

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

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

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

S x 

BOOKBLOG: I Swapped My Brother On The Internet

I Swapped My Brother on the Internet: a funny tale about the ups and downs of brothers!

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“Everyone has dreamed of being able to get rid of their brother or sister at one time or another – but for Jonny, the dream is about to become a reality with SiblingSwap.com! What could be better? Finding the perfect brother isn’t easy, though, as Jonny discovers when Sibling Swap sends him a series of increasingly bizarre replacements for his brother Ted, including:
A merboy
A brother raised by meerkats
The ghost of Henry the Eight!
Suddenly old Ted isn’t looking so bad. But can Jonny ever get him back?”

I picked up this book during the Christmas holidays and it was a proper chuckle! Funnily enough it’s dedicated to Paul (the author’s brother) and my own brother is called Paul, so we had a little giggle about me swapping him for someone! 

Imagine that! Being able to swap your brother on the internet. BLISS. I don’t know if I would swap mine though. He’s far away enough as it is!

All Jonny has to do is put in on the website the kinds of things he likes, the kind of brother he wants and VOILA, he will get a new brother. His actual brother, Ted, is a bit mean to him. Ted laughs at Jonny. Jonny has had enough. He wants a brother he can play with, a brother he can have fun with, someone who wil appreciate what a good brother he is. Ted applies to SiblingSwap.com and what unfurls is a comical list of brothers! 

All Jonny has to do when he wants a new brother is request a swap and TADA the new brother arrives the next day. At first, this is brilliant. Jonny thinks he is on to a winner, but when he realises all of his “new brothers” are a bit weird, bizarre or NOT quite Ted, he starts to have second thoughts.

This book made me laugh out loud in places and I can imagine it will go down VERY well with the kids at school, especially those who have brothers! I loved the inclusion of Henry the Eighth, that was very unexpected. I sure wouldn’t like Henry VIII as my brother!

I am very pleased to be involved in the book blog for this funny book! Go check out the other bloggers on the tour! Their posts are brilliant!

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Author Information

Jo Simmons began her working life as a journalist. Her first fiction series for children, Pip Street, was inspired by her own kids’ love of funny fiction, and two Super Loud Sambooks followed. In addition to children’s fiction, she co-wrote a humorous parenting book, Can I Give Them Back Now?: The Aargh To Zzzzzz Of Parenting, published by Square Peg. Jo lives in Brighton with her husband, two boys and a scruffy formerly Romanian street dog. I Swapped My Brother on the Internet is her first book for Bloomsbury.

Twitter: Go follow her!

Illustrator Information

Nathan Reed has been a professional illustrator since graduating from Falmouth College of Arts in 2000. He has illustrated Christopher Edge’s How to Write Your Best Story Ever and the Elen Caldecott’s Marsh Road Mysteries Series. His most recent picture book is Samson the Mighty Flea by Angela McAllister. He was shortlisted for the Serco Prize for Illustration in 2014. When he’s not illustrating he can be found with his two boys and a football on Peckham Rye Common.

Twitter: Go give Nathan a follow!

Website: Check out Nathan’s amazing website too!

BLOG TOUR: Chris Priestley

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Curse of the Werewolf Boy: friendships, time jumps and hilarious Latin women. What more do you need?

“Mildew and Sponge don’t think much of Maudlin Towers, the blackened, gloom­laden, gargoyle-infested monstrosity that is their school. But when somebody steals the School Spoon and the teachers threaten to cancel the Christmas holidays until the culprit is found, our heroes must spring into action and solve the crime!
But what starts out as a classic bit of detectivating quickly becomes weirder than they could have imagined. Who is the ghost in the attic? What’s their history teacher doing with a time machine? And why do a crazy bunch of Vikings seem to think Mildew is a werewolf?”

I saw this book floating about on the Bloomsbury twitter so when I was asked to be part of this brilliant blog tour I jumped at the chance! Any book that looks as good as this one does is a winner with me.

In the book you’re introduced to Mildew and his best friend Sponge, two typical boys looking for a bit of adventure and fun in their school days! They go to a pretty fancy school, Maudlin Towers, and one day the infamous School Spoon goes missing. OH NO. So obviously the two boys make it their mission to try and track down the spoon. OBVIOUSLY while they’re on their mission things start to go awry. Strange ghosts appear, a Viking man is found wandering, there’s a mysterious time travelling machine left by a dead member of staff. All these things club together to make a very pacey and fun story!

(Plus, look at these illustrations! Love them!)

The friendship between the two boys was so spot on. It’s great to see a positive frienship at any time, but to see one written so well is a bonus! There’s some brilliant non-words (detectivating is a brilliant example), which definitely had me giggling. I really enjoyed the humour in this book. One of my favourite people is definitely Miss Livia – kids will love her situation, she’s ridiculous yet hilarious. There were some moments of absolute ridiculousness that I loved. All of the time jumping started to hurt my head, but I was hooked. I wanted to know what was going to happen, because come on WHO DOESN’T WANT TO TIME TRAVEL? This book would be perfect for the boys in my class: it’s totally down their street! If you’ve got an 8+ year old in your life, then get one of these for them! It’s perfect. 

Thank you so much to Bloomsbury and Faye for inviting me on this book tour! If you’d like to know more, check out the links below and check out the rest of the blog tour, it’s been great!

Goodreads Link: clicky
Amazon Link: go on, treat yourself (or someone else!)

Author Information

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Ever since he was a teenager, Chris has loved unsettling and creepy stories. He has fond memories of buying comics like Strange Tales and House of Mystery, watching classic BBC TV adaptations of M.R. James’ ghost stories every Christmas and reading assorted weirdness by everyone from Edgar Allan Poe to Ray Bradbury. He hopes his books will haunt his readers in the way those writers have haunted him.

Website: http://www.chrispriestleybooks.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/crispriestley
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chrispriestleywriter/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/christopherpriestley/

Blog tour

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BOOKBLOG: Katherine Rundell

The Explorer: incredible, adventure filled story with unexpected heroes

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“Fred, Con, Lila, and Max are on their way back to England from Manaus when the plane they’re on crashes and the pilot dies upon landing. For days they survive alone, until Fred finds a map that leads them to a ruined city, and to a secret.”

The Explorer follows the tale of 4 children who are on the plane to England from Manaus when they end up crashing in the rainforest. What ensues is an adventure like none other, written in the most perfect and captivating manner. There’s an unexpected hero, animal friends, terrifying obstacles, bravery and friendship.

I had heard a LOT of talk about this book and lots of people knew this was one to watch out for so when the people at Bloomsbury offered me a proof I knew I was in for a treat. I didn’t realise just HOW MUCH of a treat I was in for. Not only is this book an amazing take on Amazon adventures but it shows the amazing traits of kids – the awe and wonder of them, their bravery, their inquisitive nature, how bold they can be. 

There’s an unexpected hero in this book. He’s wonderful, secretive, quiet. The children learn more through him than they ever imagined they could. He saves them from almost certain death. He teaches them about the jungle. He teaches them about themselves. They teach each other about being human. The relationship between the hero and the children is one of the things I loved most about this. It may have made me cry. 

I loved the characters in this story. I loved the way it was written. I loved that it was never predictable. I loved that I wanted to read it. I loved the way in which I wanted to read on but I didn’t want it to end. I hated that it ended. I loved the ending. It worked so perfectly. I want to experience this book all over again. I want the excitement and discovery.

I can’t wait to share this book with a class. It is so brilliant for using with children. The language is incredible. You need a piece that delves into sensory writing? You’ll find any amount in here! You need a piece about peril? You’ll find that here! You need an incredible book that will have your kids hooked? Look no further. It would work so beautifully in UKS2 classes but let your kids read it. I don’t have the words for how much I loved this book. I swear, if you can, get your hands on this for your school library/class library/personal collection – it is just exquisite. I’m going to have to get myself a finished copy for the illustrations – I have heard they are beautiful.

Have you read The Explorer?
What was your take on the hero?
Did you have a favourite child?

Let me know in the comments or on twitter. I have so much positivity about this book, I need to share it. 

S x

BOOKBLOG: Tom Percival

Perfectly Norman: beautiful with a brilliant message

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Norman had always been perfectly normal. That was until the day he grew a pair of wings! Norman is very surprised to have wings suddenly – and he has the most fun ever trying them out high in the sky. But then he has to go in for dinner. What will his parents think? What will everyone else think? Norman feels the safest plan is to cover his wings with a big coat. But hiding the thing that makes you different proves tricky and upsetting. Can Norman ever truly be himself?”

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Perfectly Norman is a gorgeous, vibrant picture book telling the story of Norman – the boy who is so normal, but he grows wings. As you go through the book you see that Norman tries to hide what is most special about him which makes him sad and withdrawn. It stops him doing the things he loves best. It makes him lonely and unsociable. When he finally realises that his wings, the thing that make him special, should be the things that he celebrates, he embraces them and he shows them to the world. When he does there’s colour and happiness everywhere. 

I loved the illustrations and the use of colour in the book. One of my littles pointed the link between grey and blues when Norman is sad, and then all of the colour when Norman decides to embrace himself and is therefore happy again. The illustrations are absolutely beautiful. We definitely loved looking at the illustrations that accompany the story.

This would be a brilliant story to read to kids regardless of age. Brilliant one for KS1 or KS2. Delivers the same brilliant message either way: you’re special and different, but that’s to be embraced and celebrated. Everyone’s different but everyone’s special. Embracing your uniqueness is important.

Absolutely loved Perfectly Norman, can’t wait to share it with more kids at school!

Check out the book trailer too: Click, click, click.

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Author & Illustrator: Tom Percival
Release Date: 10th August 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35892618-perfectly-norman
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Perfectly-Norman-Tom-Percival/dp/1408880962

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Check out the rest of the blog tour! I can’t wait to see what everyone else thinks of Norman!

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Tom Percival writes and illustrates picture books and has also produced covers and internal illustrations for the Skulduggery Pleasant series. Tom has written and illustrated three books for Bloomsbury: HERMAN’S LETTER, BUBBLE TROUBLE and the forthcoming HERMAN’S HOLIDAY. He grew up in a remote and beautiful part of South Shropshire. He now lives in a far more conventional building (a house), with his girlfriend and their young sons. 

Website: http://tom-percival.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/TomPercivalsays

Thank you so much Bloomsbury and Faye Rogers for sending me a copy of Perfectly Norman! 

S x

BOOKBLOG: Emery Lord

The Names They Gave Us: filled with faith, tears and friendshipImage result for the names they gave us

“Everything is going right for Lucy Hansson, until her mom’s cancer reappears. Just like that, Lucy breaks with all the constants in her life: her do-good boyfriend, her steady faith, even her longtime summer church camp job.
Instead, Lucy lands at a camp for kids who have been through tough times. As a counselor, Lucy is in over her head and longs to be with her parents across the lake. But that’s before she gets to know her coworkers, who are as loving and unafraid as she so desperately wants to be.
It’s not just new friends that Lucy discovers at camp—more than one old secret is revealed along the way. In fact, maybe there’s much more to her family and her faith than Lucy ever realized.”

Lucy is a young lady who is struggling with her faith, her boyfriend, her home town and her mam’s illness. Everything seems to be piling on top of her and it makes her question everything. Lucy usually spends summers helping at her mam and dad’s summer camp, but this year her mam has a new idea: for Lucy to go help at the other summer camp over the lake. Unlike her parent’s camp: it’s not a religious camp, it’s a camp for troubled kids. It’s here that Lucy finds a lot out about herself, about life and about love, in all its kinds.

I’m sometimes hesitant with books about faith, as they can be written in the wrong manner, with the wrong message but this one was incredible. I know a lot of people are put off by books with religion, featuring characters who are religious and that’s a shame, because this one is wonderful. The story looks at Lucy and her faith and how it’s impacted by everything in her life. Her faith isn’t the be all and end all of this story but it’s an important undertone. Her faith is part of her and so it should be part of her story. It becomes something she struggles with but is always something she is dedicated to. It plays a big part in her relationship with her boyfriend Lucas, who is an equally religious young man who eventually ends up not understanding Lucy’s questioning of her faith. 

Lucy’s adventure in Rising Sun Camp introduces her to some incredible characters, some tough challenges and some kids who help to make her the person she becomes. She deals with children she’s never had to before, camp activities that she wouldn’t normally. She’s thrust into an environment that she’s never been in before. She meets friends that are probably some of the best she will ever have. There’s romance. A beautifully written romance, which starts as a friendship and grows. I loved watching the evolution of this relationship. It made my heart so happy.

Obviously, it’s not all happy. Lucy’s mam is poorly. She’s away from her family. She’s questioning her faith. She’s not sure who she is. She’s not sure what she’s doing. I finished this book with a lot of tears, but with a full heart. It is a beautifully written tale of friendship, love and faith

I was very lucky to receive a proof of this from the publishers and I am so grateful! Having read When We Collided, another book by this wonderful author, I knew I needed to get my hands on it!

Have you read The Names They Gave Us?
What’s your take on books with religious themes?
Have you read When We Collided?
BOOK BLOG: Emery Lord

Let me know what you think on twitter, or in the comments! 

S x

BOOKBLOG: Karen Gregory

Countless: heartbreaking, eye-opening and gut-wrenching.

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“When Hedda discovers she is pregnant, she doesn’t believe she could ever look after a baby. The numbers just don’t add up. She is young, and still in the grip of an eating disorder that controls every aspect of how she goes about her daily life. She’s even given her eating disorder a name – Nia. But as the days tick by, Hedda comes to a decision: she and Nia will call a truce, just until the baby is born. 17 weeks, 119 days, 357 meals. She can do it, if she takes it one day at a time…”

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I had heard lovely things from my good friend Rachel about this book and knew that I needed to get my hands on it and get it read and I don’t regret it. It broke my heart but it was incredible.

It’s the story of Hedda, who suffers from an eating disorder which has caused somewhat of a breakdown in her family situation, who finds out she is pregnant. This book talks about the very complicated relationship between sufferer and their body and mind; doing it in such an incredible way. Hedda is a complicated young lady, who suddenly becomes thrust into a life she doesn’t want – she has a reliance on her eating disorder for control – but has to live it regardless. She has to learn to eat, she has to learn how to be a healthy body for the sake of her baby. She struggles and her struggle is so brilliantly written, it seems authentic. You’re also introduced to Robin – Hedda’s neighbour. I have a complicated relationship with Robin. You’ll see why when you read. He’s like that unreliable narrator that people are never sure how to react to. Her relationship with her body, for a time changes for the sake of her baby, but once the baby comes is that the way that it is going to stay?

I was hesitant to read this book at first. Books centred around eating disorders walk a fine line and there are so many which are not written with enough care, that it makes them tough to read. I never felt that through this book. I had enough knowledge about what was going that I didn’t feel like it was about an ED, it was about living and coping and adapting to life with an ED. The one thing that stood out to me was that there was never numbers in this book. There was never the mention of sizes or weights. Just that she was struggling with an eating disorder. 

I won’t spoil this any more than I already have, but the ending absolutely killed me. You’ve read this, watched this incredible young lady struggle with her mind, her body and her emotions for the past 9 months and then she has to then become a mam. She has to become the person this baby relies upon and she finds it hard. Very hard. The last page broke my heart. 

Have you read Countless?
What did you think of it?
Can you recommend any books similar to this?

Let me know in the comments or on twitter!

S x