BOOKBLOG: Alice Oseman

Radio Silence: honest, emotive and necessary

“What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?
Frances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside.But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken. Caught between who she was and who she longs to be, Frances’ dreams come crashing down. Suffocating with guilt, she knows that she has to confront her past…She has to confess why Carys disappeared…Meanwhile at uni, Aled is alone, fighting even darker secrets.It’s only by facing up to your fears that you can overcome them. And it’s only by being your true self that you can find happiness.Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.”

People have been shouting about this book forever and during my half term mega read I finally got a chance to read this and… my god I devoured it. I sat one morning and read this within 4 hours

Here you have a book with an incredible characters. You’ve Frances, the geeky, nerdy brainbox of the school who meets Aled, who is one of those special characters who comes along and changes everything. Frances’ admiration for Aled’s podcast soon changes into working together to an eventual falling out and final rescue. No one can predict the way that life goes, in the same way no one can predict the internet and it’s complexities. I loved that this book dealt with a modern age, a modern frienship – looking at a friendship through modern eyes. The ins and outs of texting, DMing, using twitter and all those things that to us are just the norm. It’s an incredible story about the power and the villainy of the internet

Besides all of that this book has some pretty special messages to deliver. There’s a point in the book where something big happens and everything changes for Frances and Aled. What they were is not what they become. But Frances never loses sight of the power of friendship, the sense of love she has for her friend. Despite everything kindness and love wins. Important for always. Kindness should always win and it absolutely does in this book.

Frances struggles a lot with her dedication to her grades and schooling with her contrast with wanting to be herself, the creative person that she is. Through Aled she gets to divulge these creative parts of herself. She gets to be the person she should be. Another message this book shouts loudly is that. Be true to who you are. You’re the best version of you when you’re being the you you’re meant to be. I loved that. Grades aren’t everything. Yes, they’re important but man it’s better to be yourself. People aren’t going to love your GCSE results, they’re going to love you.

I’ve done this book no justice. But it’s incredible. Alice Oseman is an absolute wonderI need you all to read it, yesterday. I regret waiting so long to read it, but I am so glad I have done now. 

My goodreads review reads:

What an incredible story of friendship, honesty, pain and the wonders of the internet! I absolutely adored this. Aled is everything, I want to give him the biggest hug. I love the messages of this books so much: be your true self, grades aren’t everything and kindness. Always kindness.

Have you read Radio Silence?
What was the message you took away from it?
Can you recommend any books similar to it?

Let me know in the comments or on Twitter – you know where to find me! 

S x

#Bookpost appreciation post

Dear publishers, friends, wonderful authors,

Thank you so much for all of your wonderful book post. You don’t have to send them to me and I am so eternally grateful for when you do. There is no joy quite as incredible as when I get home after a tough day to an envelope which I KNOW contains a book (my mam often jokes that it’s a football/bread/statue of liberty). It never gets old receiving book post. It never stops being amazing that you are kind enough to send me book post. I’m just a little blogger, reading and reviewing books and it means the world that people send me books.

Once books have been read they go 1 of 3 ways:

  1. To the school library: if they’re kids books, I’ll send them to my school library. If they’re YA books or books which are too old for my kids, I’ll send them to a local secondary school.
  2. Stay on my shelf: if I loved it and know I’ll reread it, I’ll place it on my shelf. That’s where the “to stay” books go.
  3. Pass it round: I love passing books round to my friends. You’ve shared books these amazing books with me, so I get to share them with others.

Love, alittlebutalot xxx

In light of this, I’m going to share a monthly #bookpost appreciation post to show you some of the incredible bookpost I’ve received.

This time round I have to share one of the most incredible #bookpost hauls I’ve ever had. Courtesy of the incredible people at Puffin, I received: 

Check out that haul. *makes heart eyes*

The Cow That Fell To Earth – Nadia Shireen (an amazing looking picture book, I love cows!)
Grumpy Frog – Ed Vere (I am SUCH an Ed Vere fan, his books are lush)
Wave Me Goodbye – Jacqueline Wilson (one that I’ve been VERY excited to receive, it’s about a WW2 evacuee!)
Little Women – Louise May Alcott (this is from the incredible new versions of classics, I read this as a child and am looking forward to reading it again)
The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame (I don’t think I’ve EVER read this, but now that I have it, I definitely will be!)
Tilly and the Time Machine – Adrian Edmondson (I think this is one that will DEFINITELY be going to the school library; just from the cover, it’ll be a hit!)
The Guggenheim Mystery – Robin Stevens (I haven’t read the first book of this series yet, I must before I read this one!)
Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index – Julia Isreal (Oh man, I am a SUCKER for YA novels and that cover is EVERYTHING. Can’t wait to read this!)

Thank you Puffin so much for my incredible bookpost. 

What’s your favourite kind of post?
What book post has been your favourite of all time?

Let me know in the comments, or on twitter (@eenalol). I would love to see your bookpost!

S x

BOOKBLOG: Vivian French

I am a MASSIVE FAN of picture books. 

I am a MASSIVE FAN of books which promote a love of reading. 

Pair these two together and you have a book I KNOW I need to read and own and tell everyone about.

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The Covers of my Book are Too Far Apart is a PERFECT book for classrooms. I would implore every school to have a copy. 

“I’m too old for bedtime stories!”

“That’s a GIRLS’ book!”

“Reading’s rubbish!”

Find answers to these and many more reading grumbles in this joyful celebration of all that’s brilliant about books and reading. For book lovers, book haters and everyone in between!

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This book is just incredible. Each page deals with ANOTHER excuse for not reading (This is a girls book, only clever people read) and retorts from a variety of characters about how that isn’t true. I love it. 

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I absolutely love the idea behind this book and will be championing it for a long time! 

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

BOOKBLOG: Matt Haig

Reasons To Stay Alive: honest, important, emotive.

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“WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO FEEL TRULY ALIVE?

Aged 24, Matt Haig’s world caved in. He could see no way to go on living. This is the true story of how he came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again.

A moving, funny and joyous exploration of how to live better, love better and feel more alive, Reasons to Stay Alive is more than a memoir. It is a book about making the most of your time on earth.

‘I wrote this book because the oldest clichés remain the truest. Time heals. The bottom of the valley never provides the clearest view. The tunnel does have light at the end of it, even if we haven’t been able to see it . . . Words, just sometimes, really can set you free.'”

Reasons to Stay Alive has been sat on my TBR shelf for a while. I’m not a massive reader of NF but there were lots of people talking about this book a while back, so I bought it but it just stayed on my shelf. Until just recently. I needed something a little bit different. I needed something that would hopefully inspire something in me. 

I loved Matt’s sheer frank honesty. There’s no skirting over issues. There’s frank honesty. There’s stories and anecdotes from his toughest times. There’s uplifting stories. There’s conversations he has with himself. There’s flashbacks to his darkest times. There’s the story of the start of it all. Throughout all of it, there’s honesty.

Mental health is something that is becoming more talked about but still not talked about ENOUGH. This book was brave and brilliant. Written in such a way that I devoured it in less than a day. It’s an emotional rollercoaster. I cried. I was angry. Frustrated. Sad. Jubilant. I felt everything. 

There are so many important quotes in this book that I feel I could spend a blog post quoting but I’ll choose a few:

“Hang on in if you can. Life is always worth it”
““Wherever you are, at any moment, try and find something beautiful. A face, a line out of a poem, the clouds out of a window, some graffiti, a wind farm. Beauty cleans the mind.”
“Sit down. Lie down. Be still. Do nothing. Observe. Listen to your mind. Let it do what it does without judging it. Let it go, like the Snow Queen in Frozen.”

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I implore everyone to read this. Even if you don’t suffer from any MH troubles, it’ll open your eyes to those who do. You will know someone who is suffering, possibly in silence. 

My goodreads review simply said:
“It’s important that people talk about mental health and it’s important for people to know that not everyone suffers the same way. I loved this book. I cried a lot.”

Have you read this?
Do you have other NF recommendations like this?

Let me know on twitter (@eenalol) or in the comments, I need more NF in my life!

S x

BOOKBLOG: Piers Torday

There May Be A Castle: adventure filled, emotional and eerie.

“Eleven-year-old Mouse is travelling to see his grandparents on Christmas Eve with his mother and two sisters. But it’s snowing, and visibility is bad, and the car goes off the road, and crashes. Mouse is thrown from the car. 
When he wakes, he’s not in his world any more. He meets a sheep named Bar, who can only say Baaa, and a sarcastic horse named Nonky, who is a surprising mix of his beloved toy horse and his older sister.
So begins a quest to find a castle in a world of wonder – a world of monsters, minstrels, dangerous knights and mysterious wizards; a world of terrifying danger but also more excitement than Mouse has ever known. 
But why are they looking for a castle? As the cold grows, we realise it might just have something to do with the family he’s left behind; and that Mouse’s quest is more important than ever. 
This is a novel about love and death. It’s about the power of stories to change the way we view the world – and it’s about the power of a child to change their own world. Emotionally arresting but ultimately uplifting, this is a remarkable novel for our times.”

There May Be A Castle was sent to me by my lovely friend Grace and it’s been sat on my shelf for a while, but I needed some kids lit to read during SundayYAthon and I knew that this was just the right time to read There May Be A Castle and I did not regret it!

It’s the heartbreaking story about Mouse and his family. They’re on their way to visit their grandparents for Christmas. Mouse hates Christmas. He’s not in the mood to go to his grandparents. He doesn’t want his presents. He just wants to stay at home and play with his things at home. Despite all this he gets in the car with his mum and his 2 sisters, and his pet horse Nonky and they drive to their grandparents house. The weather is so bad that they crash. What follows is an incredible journey of Mouse’s to help his family and his sister’s to try to help Mouse. 

Initially Mouse irritated me, but I definitely grew to like him. He was bold but naive. He showed great determination. He has an incredible imagination. He’s resilient and strong. Nonky was a brilliant addition to the story for me. I LOVED the sarcastic, almost sardonic humour which he brings to the story. He made me laugh out loud at points. Mouse’s older sister Violet is portrayed as a brilliant big sister and caring youngster that I think lots of books are missing. She’s brave and very self-motivated. She shows fear but fights through it. Her brilliant imagination, like her brother’s, helps her to fight through some pretty horrible things. 

This book deals with some pretty heavy topics: death, love, friendship, love, family, fear and understanding. Piers Torday has written it with some tact and brilliance that I felt challenged but looked after throughout the book. The issues are dealt with care and they’re so brilliantly written that kids won’t be intimidated or frightened by them. I cried at the end. The ending is heart-breaking, but honest

I would totally recommend this for Year 6/7 classes. I’d love to see it in class libraries or school libraries. I really loved it. 

Have you read There May Be A Castle?
How did you feel at the end?
What did you think of the characters? 

S x

BOOKBLOG: Maggie Harcourt

Unconventional: funny, nerdy and witty.

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“Lexi Angelo has grown up helping her dad with his events business. She likes to stay behind the scenes, planning and organizing…until author Aidan Green – messy haired and annoyingly arrogant – arrives unannounced at the first event of the year. Then Lexi’s life is thrown into disarray.

In a flurry of late-night conversations, mixed messages and butterflies, Lexi discovers that some things can’t be planned. Things like falling in love..”

Unconventional is one of those books that you come across every now and again that you just read with a smile. I read it quickly and read it with a smile on my face most of the way through. It’s not often that I get to do that (if anyone has recommendations of books that made their hearts happy like this I would love to know them!) so it was refreshingly lovely! 

This book tells the story of Lexi, who works with her dad who runs conventions. It takes you through her life running conventionsthe mishaps, the people, the miscellaneous jobs – and her life dealing with her mum who lives in France and her dad who’s marrying a new womanbalancing college life and working life when suddenly a new boy sneaks along in her life who she initially doesn’t trust but then things change.

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I just have to say how lovely this book was. The whole thing made me happy, I loved the characters. Lexi was just the right balance of nerdy, teenage and dedicated to her job that I really liked. I totally fell for Aidan too. I didn’t trust him at first, your first impression of him is somewhat askew because of how you’re introduced to him… but he definitely grew on me. But then he “does” something shocking. Lexi’s friends were lovely too. They definitely made me laugh on occasion! Teenage friendships when they’re written well are some of my favourites!

Besides making me smile an awful lot, Unconventional made me even more excited for YALC. Bring on July!

Do you have any recommendations of other books that will make me smile?
I need more!!

S x

BOOKBLOG: David Litchfield

Grandad’s Secret Giant: heartwarming, beautiful and poignant.

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“He has hands the size of tables,” Grandad said, “legs as long as drainpipes and feet as big as rowing boats. Do you know who I mean?”
“Yes,” sighed Billy. “The Secret Giant. But he’s not real!”
Billy doesn’t believe his Grandad when he tells him there’s a giant living in his town, doing good deeds for everyone. He knows that a giant is too big to keep himself hidden. And why would he WANT to keep himself a secret? But as time goes on, Billy learns that some secrets are too BIG to stay secret for long…”

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Every now and again along come authors who write books that just hit a chord with me, who just write stories that mean something without being condescending, without being overly zealous about it, who just write things that are incredibly well put together, incredibly beautifully illustrated and will stay with me forever. Grandad’s Secret Giant is another one of David Litchfield’s books that will do just that (there’s already The Bear and the Piano and The Building Boy, which you need to get your hands on if you haven’t already)

Grandad’s Secret Giant tells the story of a Grandad who tells his grandson the story of the giant who lives in their town who helps the people out when they’re not looking, but who also has no friends. Everyone in the town is scared of the giant because he’s different, because he’s a giant. Naturally the little boy doesn’t believe his Grandad because who would believe a Grandad telling you about giants, they’re not real… right?! Wrong. In this book, the giant is the loveliest soul. He’s helpful, kind, polite and just wants to be friends with the townspeople. The young boy in the story wants to be friends with the giant and they set up a chance for the giant to meet with them so they can be friends, but of course the little boy runs away in fear. The Giant then himself stays away, who wants to be friends with someone who is scared of you? Eventually the boy feels bad and wants to make amends with the giant and turns a bad situation into a good one. They become friends in the end and the boy realises that yes, the giant may be different but he’s just a person who wants to have friends. 

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Throughout the book you see the good deeds the giant is doing for the town and yet the boy says every time “But I didn’t see the giant” and the Grandad tells him every time it’s because he wasn’t looking hard enough. This is a lovely message to read to children who maybe can’t see the good things other people do for them, or who can’t see when they fall out with their friends that they are good people. When I read this to the children at school they loved looking out for the giant each time and describing how the giant went unseen and how he was helping the people.

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The illustrations in this book are just incredible. It is so beautifully drawn, with such detail and precision. My children absolutely loved pointing things out throughout the story that even I hadn’t mentioned. I told the children this was a very special story so that when it was put in the reading corner it had to be looked after and it has been looked after brilliantly. One of my little girls even pointed out the differences between the end papers! I love when authors put tiny details in like this. It just makes it all that more special when you read it a few times, you notice new things that you haven’t noticed and as adults, children can sometimes see different things!

“Miss at the beginning of the book the town is all blue because the giant is sad but at the end it’s full of colour because the giant is happy now he has a friend!”

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My kids thought the Giant looked really friendly with one girl saying “Miss, I would want the giant to be my friend because I’m just small and he could reach high up things for me” which I thought was lush! We agreed that Grandad’s Secret Giant would be a very helpful person to have around school “especially when the ball gets stuck on the roof, because no one else can reach, Miss”. They would also like the giant to visit so they can ask him questions like, “what is it like being so tall? How do you get trousers to fit? Would you like to be normal sized? Do you know the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk?”. 

I think it’s fair to say that Grandad’s Secret Giant was an absolute winner not just with me but with the kids as well. I can’t wait to see what else David Litchfield produces. I love all of his books and they’re always a hit with teachers, parents and kids alike. All teachers, school libraries and households should have brilliant picture books like this.

Have you read Grandad’s Secret Giant?
How would your class react to him?
What would they want to ask him?

Let me know in the comments or talk to me on Twitter (@eenalol)! Thank you so much Quarto books for sending me a copy of this wonderful book to share with my kids!

Thanks for reading! 

S x

BOOKBLOG: BRYONY SUPPER

The Inventing Tubes: funny, cute, brilliant for kids!img_4365.jpg

“Marc Macaroni uses the Inventing Tubed to invent the fantastic Pastaball. Sarah Spaghetti, who is always impatient, tries to invent her own Pastaball without reading the instructions properly! The Pasta Petz arrive in the Pastamobile to save the day – but they are all so busy that no-one hears the Pasta Beasties in the distance!”

I was lucky enough to be sent this by the author herself and took it into school! The kids absolutely loved it – one of them even said “MISS! THOSE CHARACTERS ARE ALL PASTA! CAN WE MAKE THEM AND EAT THEM?”. Who was I to say no? We didn’t make them but we designed different pasta characters and looked at different pasta shapes… it was something a little bit different indeed!

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The story is all about how Sarah rushes ahead to create something just like Marc and how it goes wrong because she doesn’t do it carefully and patiently. It’s told in a very fun and zany way that the kids loved it. It was fun to read to them because there’a quite a few interesting words and lots of pasta words involved! The kids had a (pasta) ball listening to this and it was definitely popular in the reading corner when I put it out!

This book is a whole lot of fun and certainly very unique! I don’t know that I’ve come across many, if any, books that have pasta based characters. The illustrations are brilliant too! Inspiring kids to design their own characters is certainly an achievement!

I can’t wait to see the next one in the series! This one was a lot of fun! 

Have you guys read this? 
Would you like to share something pasta based with your kids?

Go follow the author @ThePastaKidz on twitter and find out more!

S x

 

BOOKBLOG: KATE A BOORMAN

Winterkill: seductive, nervy and enthralling.IMG_4357

Friday saw the start of the #SundayYAthon… where we have to read as many books as we can in a weekend! I was travelling to London to meet a pocket friend of mine (see: amazing online friend) and was reading Orangeboy on the way down (as book 1 of #SundayYAthon) but finished it by the time I got to London so naturally I needed to buy a new book. When we were in Waterstones Piccadilly I was picking up books, obv this is me, and needed another book to read and had already picked up a book for BOGOHP so needed another! I couldn’t find one but having scoured I came across this one. It was the blurb that sold me.

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“Where Emmeline lives, you cannot love and you cannot leave
The Council’s rules are strict, but they’re for the good of the settlement in which Emmeline lives. Everyone knows there is nothing but danger the other side of the Wall, and the community must prepare for the freezing winterkill that comes every year. But Emmeline struggles to be obedient under the Council’s suffocating embrace – especially when she discovers that a Council leader intends to snatch her hand in marriage. Then Emmeline begins to hear the call of the trees beyond the Wall”

I was initially intrigued by the settlement aspect of this book, that this girl lived in a settlement and was very segregated from the rest of the world – this kind of thing really appeals to me, not sure why! That was the thing that drew me to it. The disobedience of teenagedom. The Council, who I guessed were in charge. The council leader who wanted to marry her. I wanted to know more and I am so glad I picked it up because I was NOT disappointed.

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This book tells the tale of Emmeline (Em for short) and her life in the settlement. What she does, how she exists, what her life is like there. She’s different from the rest of her townsfolk though. She’s ‘Wayward’ – she breaks the rules, she questions the Council, she doesn’t follow their every saying. The people of the settlement are led to believe in the 3 virtues: Honesty, Courage and Discovery. The people have to do things which abide by these virtues, otherwise their actions are seen as ‘Wayward’ and are punished. Generally punished with doing the “Watch”. Obviously Em is a rule breaker, she makes mistakes and ends up being on “Watch” – she has to watch over the outskirts of the fortification and make sure the “malmaci” (the bad people) aren’t coming after her town. The story goes on from there and there are twists and turns aplenty. More people who seem to be following the way of the Council but who in their own ways aren’t. They don’t follow. They are Wayward but know how to get away with it. I loved the idea of this. The writing was brilliant too. I devoured it in about a day. The plot was so brilliant weaved, with some interesting turns and holes that I didn’t see coming but that when it got to the end I was like “WELL OBVIOUSLY”. Brilliance I say.

The characters of this book were the things I feel most in love with. Em, the main character, is a girl who is curious, she’s interested in knowing more, she wants to know more. She’s “Stained” because of something her grandmother allegedly did years before and she is defined in some ways by her stain – she thinks that’s all people see of her and in some respects, to some of the people in the settlement it is. Alongside Em you meet her lovely best friend Tom. He’s her calm, he is very much a rule abider, he doesn’t like that Em is so willing to be Wayward, to act in such meaningless ways. He likes to stay on the right side of the law. But he very much respects and sees Em for who she is, his best friend. He does things throughout the book that surprised me, but that made me like him even more. In contrast to Tom we meet Kane. Bold, shaved head, strong, works in the kitchens Kane. He’s a thinker, like Em. He’s not afraid to bend rules. There’s a spark between him and Em. Tom and Kane are like chalk and cheese but both have Em as their main thought. I liked Kane. I trusted him instantly. In this book trust is an important thing and he was definitely one I trusted straight away… not like Brother Stockham. I was NOT a fan. He’s smarmy, creepy and just a bit obscure. He grew on me at one point, I thought he was something that he really isn’t. There’s something misunderstood about him, there’s something redeeming to him but he’s not one I knew I liked, nor trusted. He’s a Council leader and I just didn’t like him. He has ulterior motives. There’s also Brother Jameson who I strongly disliked. He’s a man after power. There’s some brilliant characters like Andre, who had my heart. I loved him. He’s definitely one that I knew Em could trust for there aren’t many!

I loved the random interjections of French in this book too. They came very unexpectedly to but I ended up grasping and gripped and wanting more French. As a languages teacher it was lovely to see a language in a book! It kept my brain ticking over.

I can’t wait to read the next 2 now! I’ll definitely be getting them and reading them in the next few weeks!

Have you guys read this?
What do you think?
Have you any recommendations of books like this?
Cult/settlements with rebellious teens. I love them!

Let me know in the comments below or on twitter (@eenalol) I always want book recommendations!!

S x