BLOG TOUR: The Pieces of Ourselves

Hello lovely friends!

How are you all this fine Sunday? I know, you’re shocked! Two posts in one day? I am SPOILING YOU FRIENDS. 

This afternoon, I’m here as part of the blog tour for Maggie Harcourt’s newest book, The Pieces of Ourselves. I posted my review of this book a few weeks ago, and I still wanted to be involved in the celebration of this brilliant book, so I suggested coming up with book recommendations for books you might like if you’ve read The Pieces of Ourselves, or any of Maggie’s other books! (If you haven’t read them yet, you really need to: I’m a BIG Maggie Harcourt fan!)

A little bit about The Pieces of Ourselves first…

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“Flora doesn’t do people”, not since the Incident that led to her leaving school midway through her GCSEs. The Incident that led to her being diagnosed with bipolar II. The Incident that left her in pieces. Until Hal arrives. He’s researching a story about a missing World War I soldier, and he wants Flora’s help. Flora used to love history before the Incident, but spending so much time with Hal is her worst nightmare. Yet as they begin to piece together the life of the missing soldier, a life of lost love, secrets and lies, Flora finds a piece of herself falling for Hal.”

This book is honest and raw and interesting. It’s different and it’s curious. It made me think and it made me feel. I love Flora and Hal’s story so much. There’s so much goodness in their lives and they’re surrounded by questions. I see a bit of myself in Flora. I loved Charlie and Felix so much. Just a brilliant story that made me shocked, made me cry and made me fall a little bit in love. History and the present well and truly overlapping.

If you’re interested in my full review, check it out here: BOOK BLOG: Maggie Harcourt

So… you’re looking for recommendations I hear? You’ve come to the right gal. Below are 6 other books I’d recommend based on this – they’re not all exactly the same, but they all give me a “hopeful, honest, interest and different” vibe. They’re all books I’ve loved.

HOLLY BOURNE BOOKS

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If you haven’t read them yet, go and read yourself a Holly Bourne book. They deal with all kinds of themes from mental health to relationships to friendships. Is that what you’re looking for? Look no further… 

Heartstopper series by Alice Oseman

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Are you looking for something cute? Are you someone who likes to smile? Do you want your little shipper heart to be burst? Look no further my friends!

The Love Hypothesis by Laura Steven

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Do you love reading intelligent main characters? Do you love supportive family dynamics? Do you love to laugh? Then this book, my friends, is absolutely the one for you… (I love Laura’s books, read them all thanks!)

Destination Anywhere by Sara Barnard (out in July)

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Are you looking for another brilliant story? Do you sometimes feel a bit lost in your own world? Do you just wanna scream for freedom sometimes? Check out Peyton’s story… because it’s BRILLIANT. (hello, Sara Barnard fan girl here)

No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter

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Do you love a brilliant main character? Are you someone who wants to relate to a main character? Do you sometimes feel like there’s no stories about people like you? Read No Big Deal because it’s a MASSIVE deal. 

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman

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Are you looking for a summery read? Do you seek a story about unlikely friendships? Do you need something that will make you cry but fill you with hope? I bring you this one… 

A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G.Drews

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Do you wanna meet possibly the cutest little sister in YA fiction? Do you wanna read a book that will break your heart, but know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel? Do you, like me, love a good cry? This story might break you, but trust me, it’s brilliantly done…

And that’s it! Those are my recommendations for you! You should definitely also check out Maggie’s other two books because they are BRILLIANT (and they’re so lush, like the lushest).

A massive thank you to Usborne for letting me be part of the blog tour for The Pieces of Ourselves! And thank YOU for stopping by!

Have you read any of my recommended reads?
Have you read The Pieces of Ourselves?
What books would you recommend based on The Pieces of Ourselves?

Talk to me in the comments! Speak to you all soon! Stay safe!

S x 

BLOG TOUR: The Thirteenth Home of Noah Bradley

Morning friends!

How are you? It’s nice to see you here on a Saturday! I don’t normally post on a Saturday, so you’re in for a real treat today! 

Today, I’m part of the blog tour for The Thirteenth Home of Noah Bradley by Amber Lee Dodd. As the book is about a family escaping a curse, each blogger on this brilliant blog tour has the absolute priviledge of hosting a piece by Amber about a curse from history or fiction. 

The Curse of the Werewolf

Werewolves always tend to be my favourite characters in fiction. They are often gentle, smart and honourable men. From the cool and collected Oz from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to the wise and brave Remus Lupin in Harry Potter, there are characters you root for. But come the full moon you really would be best advised to leave these guys alone. Their transformation from lovable heroes into huge wolf like creatures can be very scary. But how exactly do you become a werewolf?

Here are three things to avoid.

1)            Don’t get bitten by another werewolf

2)            Don’t anger a witch and get cursed

3)            Don’t drink rainwater out of the footprint of the animal

The Thirteenth Home of Noah Bradley by Amber Lee Dodd

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The Bradley family are constantly escaping from a centuries old curse which means that every home they ever live in is destroyed by a typhoon or flash flood that affects no other houses on the street, or they are chased out of town by a flock of persistent birds. They have just moved to their thirteenth house and Noah wants this one to work out – he’s got some good friends at school and desperately wants himself and his deaf brother Billy to put down roots. But the curse returns – so he must find a way to break it.

Released now! Check out online retailers – indie or otherwise – and get yourself a copy! I am very excited about this! 

Why don’t you keep tabs on the rest of the blog tour and find out which other curses Amber is talking about?

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S x

 

BLOG TOUR: Viper’s Daughter

Vipers Daughter: rich, incredible storytelling that will grip you from the get go.

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“For two summers Torak and Renn have been living in the Forest with their faithful pack-brother, Wolf. But their happiness is shattered when Renn realizes Torak is in danger – and she’s the threat. When she mysteriously disappears, Torak and Wolf brave the Far North to find her. At the mercy of the Sea Mother and haunted by ravenous ice bears, their quest leads them to the Edge of the World. There they must face an enemy more evil than any they’ve encountered.”

I was lucky enough to be invited on the blog tour for the brilliant new book Viper’s Daughter by Michelle Paver. There are a bunch of children at school who are HUGE fans of Michelle Paver, so when they heard I was getting the new one, they wanted in on the reviewing process! I’ll share my thoughts and then I’ll share their thoughts too! 

Viper’s Daughter is a wonderfully rich and thrilling story which takes you on a total adventure: from start to finish you are there and you feel it. You meet characters you’ll adore and you’ll go through what they’re going through. You’ll be scared with them and for them!

The story follows Torak, who starts the story angry and hurt by his friend Renn’s betrayal. He goes on a journey to find Renn because she’s his lifeline. He wants to discover why she ran away and betrayed him. He needs to know the answers to his questions. As he embarks on this journey for the truth and his friend, he encounters many different dangers, beyrayals, truths and secrets

Luckily, he’s not alone on his journey. He’s got his pack-brother Wolf with him. The two have a wonderfully close bond and their relationship with each other was wonderful to read. Wolf has to make some tricky choices in this story, but he does it for the good of Torak. The two definitely have a very firm bond with each other and there are moments when you realise just how well connected these two are. 

You can’t read this book and not be absolutely fascinated by the relationship between Renn and Torak. There were moments of sheer frustration for me because I just wanted to shake them and say “It’s fine”, but you understand as you go through WHY Renn left. Why she feels guilty and scared. Why she does what she does. Through the book they show brilliant courage, resilience and commitment to each other: they just want the other to be safe. That’s all they want and I think for me to read that was lovely. That’s all I want for my friends. Safety. Love. Warmth. There were definitely a few moments where I had a little cry! 

As a massive lover of a good fantasy world, I was yearning for a good bit of world building, and let me tell you, you get it droves here. There’s so much to get your teeth into here and you feel like you’re there. The writing is immersive without being suffocating. I know I can sometimes feel like I get lost in a world, but with this everything feels so real and well thought out. You never feel lost in the fascinating landscapes, or the lifestyles that the people live. You’d never find me visiting this land though… oh no! Far too cold for me! 

Viper’s Daughter is a proper success. It’s a compelling adventure into a bit of history that I don’t read often, and I’d love to go back. Your attention will be gripped from the first page and before you know it, you’ll be finished. You’ll be taken by the world, the characters and the cultures. 

Some short reviews from my kids:

“I loved that it was visiting back in historical times and it showed me so much more about how people lived back then without giving me too information. There were lots of questions I had about the Stone Age times and this book answered them for me. Plus, it was like a proper rollercoaster, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next!”

“I liked that this book was short and snappy. Some books can be really long and boring, but this book was fun and quick. I didn’t think I would enjoy reading it as much as I did because I LOVED her other books so much that I was worried, but it was mint!”

“If you’re looking for an adventure that will take your breath away and make you want to travel back in time, this is the one for you!”

And that’s it from me! I hope you enjoyed my stop on the blog tour! Check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour! You are in for a treat! 

Viper's Daughter Blog Tour Banner

S x 

BLOG TOUR: Fig Swims the World

Good morning! 

This morning I come to you with an absolute corker of a blog post from the wonderful Lou Abercrombie – author of the brilliant new book, Fig Swims the World.

When I received this book, I was totally over the moon. I’m a MASSIVE fan of swimming (It’s in fact one of the things that I’m going to try and get back into once we’re allowed to be back in the world with other human beings because it’s so good for me, both physically and mentally!) and I was over the moon when the publishers asked if I wanted to host a stop on the blog tour. So here, on publication day, I have the absolute joy of hosting a piece all about Lou’s list of open water swimming! 

Lou’s List of Swims

I’ve been swimming all my life, but my obsession with open water started in 2013. If there’s a lake, quarry or sea, I’ll swim in it!  Here’s a few of my most memorable:

  1. An iconic British swim – 2km around of Burgh Island

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Off the coast of South Devon, Burgh Island is a private island with an Art Deco hotel where Agatha Christie wrote two of her novels.  It was my first proper open water swim and while it was a straightforward router, getting used to the tide and the waves and the saltwater was hard.  This was my inspiration for Fig’s first swim – Dinosaur Island.

  1. An iconic canal swim – 2km round the Christiansborg in Copenhagen

This swim provided the inspiration for Fig’s 17th swim – the Mermaid Canal and I remember thinking about it as I was swimming. I have the best memories from completing this one, as I had my family cheering me along.  The elation and pride on their faces when I got out the water was wonderful.

  1. The Marathon swim – Dart 10K

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This is the hardest swim I’ve ever done.  Training 3-4 times a week, building up to 8km, was tough and took a lot of time, energy and willpower, not to mention how hungry it made me! It’s also my saddest swim, as I had no one there for me when I got out.  The emotion of completing something that I had worked so hard to do hit me and I ended up bursting into tears in front of a complete stranger!

  1. The Popular swim – 6.5km around Brownsea Island

This swim is so popular you have to set your alarm at 7a.m to register and even then, you might not get a place.  After several years of trying, I finally got to do it in 2019.  The day was gorgeous, with perfect weather conditions.  Unfortunately, I let myself get psyched out by all the amazing swimmers who stormed past me. Then my goggles leaked the whole way round and I got a terrible rash burn from my thermal top and wetsuit.  All of which spoilt my enjoyment of what could have been a beautiful swim.

  1. The cold swim – 7km down the River Wye

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The Wild Wye was an amazing swim.  From getting in the river and being pulled along by the current, to seeing other swimmers laughing, chatting and generally enjoying the opportunity to swim in such lovely surroundings. Unfortunately, I got too cold and started to panic. Even asked the SARA volunteers who were standing along the course whether I had blue lips.  I was freezing and by the time I got to the finish line, a rope leading up a muddy bank, I could barely walk and ended up letting out a crazy tribal roar as the emotion of getting there hit me.  I ended up in the First Aid tent wrapped in a silver foil blanket.   However, this time I had friends looking out for me.  It’s amazing what a difference that made…

  1. The World’s Oldest Swim – 4.5km Hellespont & Dardanelles

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This is what got me into open water swimming, because I liked the idea of saying that I’d swum between Europe and Asia, across one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes! The enormity of the challenge hit me when we took a ferry along the route and I realised how difficult it was going to be, given the currents and choppiness not to mention the idea of literally being stranded between two continents!

This was the inspiration for Fig’s final swim – the Cross Continental.

I of course have a list of swims I’d like to do one day, most of which were also the inspiration for Fig’s swims.  They include:

  • St Michael’s Mount
  • Swim the Arctic Circle
  • Oman Fjords
  • The Hurly Burly
  • Gozo to Malta sunrise swim

What an incredible story to read! As a massive fan of swimming myself, I’d love to take on an outdoor swim one day… I just don’t think I’m brave enough right now! Maybe one day… this has certainly inspired me to start thinking about it though! 

Massive massive thank you to Lou for writing this fascinating piece and to the publishers for asking me to be on the blog tour! Fig Swims the World is out TODAY! You can buy it online – be awesome, go buy it and support an indie bookshop!

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“Fig Fitzsherbert is good at a lot of things: making lists, playing the piano, advanced mathematics. But it’s never quite enough for her high-flying mother, who every New Year’s Day sets Fig an impossible resolution. So one year, Fig decides to set her own challenge instead: she’s going to swim her way round the world. There’s just one tiny problem … Fig can’t swim. Taking it one length at a time, Fig embarks on the adventure of a lifetime. But with her mother closing in, will she be able to keep her head above water and complete her challenge?”

Fig Swims the World by Lou Abercrombie, out TODAY from Stripes Publishing. 

S x

BOOKBLOG: Ben Miller

HAPPIEST OF RELEASE DAYS TO BEN MILLER! 

Following the success of his festive debut, The Night I Met Father Christmas, Ben Miller’s second book for children is a cautionary tale about black holes, time travel and broccoli.

‘Stories are often about a good person who does a Bad Thing, and this is no exception…’

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“Harrison tries his best to be good. He doesn’t steal, he always shares with his sister and he never cheats at board games, but Harrison also has a BIG flaw. He can’t control his temper! So when he’s given a black hole instead of a balloon at a party, Harrison jumps at the chance to get rid of everything that makes him cross. But when it’s not just things he hates that are disappearing into the black hole but things he loves, too, Harrison starts to realise that sometimes you should be careful what you wish for…”

As part of the release day celebrations, I was lucky enough to be asked by the brilliant publishers to host some content to help celebrate! 

Below you will find a sketch by the amazing illustrator Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini. The illustration is titled ‘Black Hole’ and I just think it’s brilliant. As someone who isn’t artistic, I am always in awe and wonder at illustrators doing their thing! I love getting behind the scenes of things like this, so to see it in its original form and then what it looked like as a finished product makes me so happy! It’s like a sneak peek into an illustrator’s sketch book! 

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Go follow Daniela on twitter @DJTerrazzini or on Instagram @danielajterrazzini.

I can’t wait to get this book. I really enjoyed Ben’s first book, so I have high hopes for this one! Out TODAY! Go treat yourself! Massive thank you to the publishers for inviting me to host these incredible images! 

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Abi Elphinstone

Jungledrop: exciting, filled with heart and adventure!

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“Eleven-year-old twins, Fox and Fibber, have been rivals for as long as they can remember. Only one of them will inherit the family fortune and so a race is afoot to save the dwindling Petty-Squabble empire and win the love of their parents. But when the twins are whisked off to Jungledrop, a magical Unmapped Kingdom in charge of conjuring our world’s weather, things get wildly out of hand. An evil harpy called Morg is on the loose. And if she finds the long-lost Forever Fern before the twins, both Jungledrop and our world will crumble. Suddenly, Fox and Fibber find themselves on an incredible adventure in a glow-in-the-dark rainforest full of golden panthers, gobblequick trees and enchanted temples. But, with the fate of two worlds in their hands, will the twins be able to work together for once to defeat Morg and her dark magic?”

Jungledrop is the second book (technically third) in Abi Elphinstone’s incredible Unmapped Chronicles series (Rumblestar being the other novel length one and Everdark being the other one – a World Book Day book!). This series gives me SO MUCH JOY. 

When the amazing humans at Simon and Schuster emailed me asking if I wanted a proof copy, I couldn’t refuse. I am a massive massive fan of Abi’s writing. She writes such incredible stories which are always adventure filled and magnificence that I needed to get my hands on it (plus, my Year 6’s would have lynched me if I had turned it down… they are also massive fans!) 

eq0otw6waaeqkceJust look at this proof man… HOW SHINY AND GORGEOUS. 

Jungledrop tells the tale of the two obnoxious and rude twins (Fox and Fibber) who have an awful lot to learn about themselves and about the world. They’re not the kindest or friendliest protagonists to start with and when they begin their quest to save their world and the Unmapped Kingdoms, you find that in fact, they’re going to have to grow and change to get through it. They have to learn to be kind, to show humility and be brave. They are of course on the quest to save the world from Morg (cruel, mean Morg, who is set on taking over the Unmapped Kingdom with her dark heart). 

This book is a total adventure with an awful lot of heart. Abi Elphinstone writes new worlds and new characters with such brilliance that is hard not to fall in love with the stories straight away. It’s rich in language, setting, characters and messages. 

One of the things that always stands out to me about Abi Elphinstone books is the messages that are delivered through brilliant storytelling. This one delivers a gorgeous message about the importance of being kind and being brave. Bravery comes in all forms in this book. It comes from small acts of kindness and massive acts of a heroic nature. The twins learn a lot about how unkind they can be and how kindness can actually help them to learn about themselves and each other. 

This book is so jam packed with wonderful characters. New and old.

The twins are not very likeable at first: they’re mean, selfish, obnoxious and just plain spiteful. They’re very self-obsessed. They’re not very compassionate. They’re not kind to each other. But when they realise they need each other and they need to be vulnerable and trust other people, they really start to change. They’re devious and conniving at times. You definitely warm up to them in the end though. 

Of course, mean, power-hungry Morg is back and she’s up to her old funny business again. Trying to destroy the world of Jungledrop. Trying to capture the people. Trying to grow stronger after the happenings of Rumblestar. As much as she terrifies me, it was great to be back with her. She’s one of those deliciously evil characters (a bit like Maleficent).

In the lands of Jungledrop, the twins meet a wonderful array of characters. When they end up in their adventure, they are accompanied by Heckle the parrot. He’s very aptly named and he definitely kept the laughs coming. He sticks around despite all rebuffs from the twins (Fox in particular is mean). In these magical lands, the twins come across many other magical animals who lend a hand, even though the twins try and avoid this happening (they’ve been brought up to be hardy and get on themselves!).

There’s another familiar face that appears in this book that made my heart so happy. I loved seeing them again. I’m glad they reappeared. 

My Goodreads review:

Blooming magnificent. A book, like all of Abi’s others, filled with adventure and heart. You can’t read one of her books and not be swept away with the lives of her characters, the depth and richness of her worlds and the brilliance of her baddies. I loved the twins and the journey they go on: kindness really is the bravest thing in the world. As much as Morg terrifies me, it was great to be back with her dastardly ways. And Heckle is a brilliant character (with a perfect name!) bloody bravo Abi Elphinstone!! 

And that’s it! If you like the sound of this, why don’t you consider preordering it?

Amazon Preorder Link

Waterstones Preorder Link

Hive Preorder Link

A massive thank you to the gorgeous Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy of Jungledrop – it’s in the possession of one of my Year 6s as we speak! They’re planning to send it around each other! Speak to you all soon! 

S x 

The Spring Book Tag

Hello!

It is ThursTAG again. Phew. How is everyone keeping on? What have you been up to this week? Staying safe I hope! Today I am here to bring you the Spring Book Tag since it is technically now Spring! (And don’t I know it? My hayfever is KICKING MY ASS!)

Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!

1. What’s on your Spring TBR list?

I mean, what isn’t on my TBR? Literally everything haha! My “school closure but not really closure” TBR is up to my hip. Whether I’ll get through them all, or whether I’ll be distracted by other things will be interesting haha. Saying that, some recent additions to my TBR are:

2. If someone asked you for a spring release recommendation, what would it be?

Last Lesson by James Goodhand is INCREDIBLE. It’s the story of a young boy who plans to bomb his school on the last day of Year 11. I read it in the space of a few hours and I just adored it. It’s tough and gritty, but man, it’s so good. (It’s out at the beginning of April I believe!)

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3. Which two books coming out before summer are you eagerly awaiting?

I have already read both Destination Anywhere by Sara Barnard and Jungledrop by Abi Elphinstone, but I can’t wait for other people to read them and be so happy and love them as much as I did! Seriously, when they come out, you need to get your hands on them!

4. Which character would make a great Easter bunny?

Hahaha, what a random question! Erm… someone who’s giving and happy about it? Maybe like Miss Honey? She’s really generous. Or Coach from the Run series by Jason Reynolds. He’d make you work for your egg, but then you know you’d deserve it! Ha!

5. What book makes you think of spring?

Literally anything with flowers on the cover. I know I’ve already mentioned her, but Sara Barnard books make me think of spring. They’re so pretty and shiny.

6. Name a cover with flowers on it.

(Haha, my answer to that previous question was NOT planned at all!)

A book with flowers on the cover? EASY:

7. Which two characters would you go on an Easter egg hunt with?

OOOOH. I do not know! Someone to keep me entertained on the hunt and then someone who was good at finding things? 

8. What is your favorite spring bookish activity?

Now I love a good wander along the seaside and then sitting reading on the beach, but as that won’t be happening for some time, I’m going to say, just sitting with a cup of tea, on the back doorstep and reading. I love a good sit outdoor.

9. Which book did you enjoy that has a spring-like cover?

A book I’ve enjoyed this year that has quite a spring-y cover… oooh a good question! I love the Hotel Flamingo books and this one screams spring to me: bright, colourful and sparking joy!

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10. Who is your favorite contemporary author?

Oh friends. Why do you do this to me? SO SO MANY. I love me some Juno Dawson (for bloody brilliant storytelling), Sara Barnard (for incredible characters and they will always make you cry!), Non Pratt (for sheer brilliance), Simon James Green (for funnies) and so many more. That’s just impolite to ask me to be honest.

My Nominees for the Spring Book Tag

Literally anyone who wants to take part… I am guessing my friend Charlotte will engage in this tag. I would be offended if she didn’t let’s be fair.

And that’s it! The spring book tag has sprung! If you fancy giving this a go, please do!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Sara Barnard

Destination Anywhere: what do you do when you’re so lost you don’t even know where to find yourself?

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“Sometimes you have to leave your life behind to find your place in the world…
After five years at secondary school spent bullied and alone, Peyton King starts sixth form college determined that things will be different. Whatever happens, she will make friends at any cost. When she finds the friends she’s always dreamed of, including an actual boyfriend, she’s happier than she’s ever been. But when they let her down in the worst way, Peyton is left no better off than when she started. Now Peyton knows the only chance she has of finding happiness is to look for it somewhere else. With nothing but her sketchpad and a backpack, she buys a one-way ticket and gets on a plane…”

I’m not here today to share a full review… that’s to come once I can form sentences about how much I loved this book.

I’m here today to share one of my moodboards (because being creative in these times is keeping me sane and it helps me a lot) and some preorder links. I think it’s SO important that we support authors and preorders are one of those incredibly easy ways that we can support them! 

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Sara Barnard keeps writing story after story that are just kick you in face good. I adored Peyton’s story and her adventure. We’ve all been there: lost and looking for ourselves. People are going to get a lot from this and it’s a gorgeous story. I loved that this book was a celebration of friendships without hiding away from the fact that friendships aren’t always great and that some of them totally suck. Now who do I speak to about my Canadian road trip?

If my moodboard and my short Goodreads review has inspired you to get this book (cause you probably should my friends, it is incredible), then why not consider preordering it from your favourite indie (can I recommend @biggreenbooks if you don’t know an indie?) or clicking one of the links below (this is not a sponsored post or anything, I just wanna get behind this book a lot and we all know I am a massive fan of Sara):

Amazon Preorder Link

Waterstones Preorder Link

Hive Preorder Link

Destination Anywhere isn’t out until June, but if you can preorder, please consider it! 

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my post! There will be a full review coming, I promise… just bear with me! 

What did you think of my moodboard?
Are you a preorder-er?
Have you read any of Sara’s other books? 

Speak to you all soon! Stay safe! 

S x

BOOK BLOG: James Goodhand

Last Lesson: Tense, gripping and thrilling

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“Last year, Ollie Morcombe was a star pupil, popular and a gifted musician. Then, after the accident, everything changed. Now he’s an outcast, a prime target of the school bullies who have made his life a living hell. Today – the last day of the school year – he’s brought those bullies a gift. A homemade pipe bomb. What has driven a model student to plan an unspeakable revenge? And with the clock ticking down to home time, what can anybody do to stop him?”

The amazing humans over at Penguin books sent me a proof copy of this book (see below proof cover) and as soon as I read the blurb, I knew I needed to pick it up. I read it on my train journey down to London (when we were still allowed to be around other people) and I THOROUGHLY enjoyed it! 

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Last Lesson is the brilliant story of young Ollie, who plans to plant a bomb in his school on the last day of the year. It follows his story from being a popular member of his school community to being the boy who wants to bomb his school. You get the chance to sneak into the world of being a teenager in his school, the things he goes through and his pretty tricky life. He has a lot to deal with. This book is told in flashbacks and a run down of the last day of school and it’s so brilliantly done. 

We all know I love a good character I can get behind.

I was initially VERY anti-Ollie (I mean who wouldn’t be? He’s bombing his school), but as you go through the story and you see what is going on in his life (an awful awful lot), you begin to question his motives and his reasons for it and maybe see a bit of humanity in him. As a teacher, it was really hard to read what Ollie was going through at school because there were just so many red flag from the actions of the teachers (one teacher in particular I wanted to murder because he was SO neglectful).

There is one teacher who is an absolute ray of light in Ollie’s life and I am so here for her – yes to positive representations of teachers in YA… we need more of these! 

I had very conflicted emotions about his grandad too. He lives with his granded and while his grandad is super supportive and doing a super good job of raising Ollie, he’s got this very “men should be men and not cry” kind of toxic masculinity vibe going on about him. This doesn’t mean I didn’t think he was a good character. For this book and for the story, grandad was a brilliant character. He was part of the problem, but he also ends up being a bit of a ray of hope in all of it. 

This book is a total emotional rollercoaster. I can’t lie and say I wasn’t gripped straight away. The premise alone was one that I needed to be part of. From the get go, you are in on the action. There’s a real sense of urgency about this story. You need to go through it greedily. You need to know what is going to happen. There’s so much you need to know the answer to. You go through this story thinking one thing, then another, then back to your first thought. You really go through it all with Ollie. Poor, poor Ollie.

There’s anger, disbelief, horror, love, hope and sadness all thrown into this book. I finished it feeling a bit of a shell of myself! 

There’s some pretty tough themes in this book. It deals with toxic masculinity, rape, bullying and mental health issues. They’re all dealt with so brilliantly without shying away from some pretty harrowing scenes and the reality of some of these situations from a teenager’s point of view. I think this book will make people ask questions and I hope it will start conversations, which start conversations. 

My Goodreads review:

My gosh, what a ride. This is gripping, harrowing and a total rollercoaster. Following the story of young Ollie, who plans to plant a bomb in his school on the last day of the year. This hooked me from the get go and I needed to know the ending. Proper brilliant.

A massive massive thank you to Penguin for sending me a copy of Last Lesson. I hope you all go out and buy this book because it’s BLOODY BRILLIANT. 

Have you read Last Lesson?
Can you share some more positive representations of teachers in YA?
What are your thoughts on this book?

Talk to me! I’d love to know what you think!

S x 

ThursTAG: Amazon’s 100 Books To Read In a Lifetime

Hello friends!!!

I came across the Amazon’s 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime” Tag a while ago and stored it in my tag vault… now I figured was as good a time as any to get it out of storage and share with you what I’ve read!

“recommend reads” lists always fascinate me. I don’t think I’m necessarily the target audience for them… but I figured I’d see how many I had read… and you can all shout at me for ones I’ve not read haha!

Rules:

  1. Include the link to Amazon’s List
  2. Tag the creator of the meme (Perfectly Tolerable)
  3. Tag and thank the Person that tagged you
  4. Copy the list below and indicate which ones you have read
  5. Tally up your total
  6. Tag 5 new people!

All right, now let’s take a look;

100 Books To Read In a Lifetime List

Title Author Read?
1984 George Orwell  Yes
A Brief History of Time Stephen Hawking
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius Dave Eggers
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier Ishmael Beah
The Bad Beginning Lemony Snicket
A Wrinkle in Time Madeleine L’Engle
Selected Stories, 1968-1994 Alice Munro
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Lewis Carroll  Yes
All the President’s Men Bob Woodward
Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir Frank McCourt
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Judy Blume
Bel Canto Ann Patchett
Beloved Toni Morrison
Born to Run Christopher McDougall
Breath, Eyes, Memory Edwidge Danticat
Catch-22 Joseph Heller
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl  Yes
Charlotte’s Web E. B White Yes
Cutting for Stone Abraham Verghese
Daring Greatly Brené Brown
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Jeff Kinney  Yes
Dune Frank Herbert
Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Hunter S. Thompson
Gone Girl Gillian Flynn Yes
Goodnight Moon Margaret Wise Brow
Great Expectations Charles Dickens
Guns, Germs, and Steel Jared Diamond Ph.D.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone J.K. Rowling  Yes
In Cold Blood Truman Capote
Interpreter of Maladies Jhumpa Lahiri
Invisible Man Ralph Ellison
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth Chris Ware
Kitchen Confidential Anthony Bourdain
Life After Life Kate Atkinson
Little House on the Prairie Laura Ingalls Wilder Yes
Lolita Vladimir Nabokov
Love in the Time of Cholera Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Love Medicine Louise Erdrich
Man’s Search for Meaning Viktor E. Frankl
Me Talk Pretty One Day David Sedaris
Middlesex Jeffrey Eugenides
Midnight’s Children Salman Rushdie
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game Michael Lewis
Of Human Bondage W. Somerset Maugham
On the Road Jack Kerouac
Out of Africa Isak Dinesen
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood Marjane Satrapi
Portnoy’s Complaint Philip Roth
Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
Silent Spring Rachel Carson
Slaughterhouse-Five Kurt Vonnegut
Team of Rivals Doris Kearns Goodwin
The Age of Innocence Edith Wharton
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay Michael Chabon
The Autobiography of Malcolm X Malcolm X
The Book Thief Markus Zusak  Yes
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Junot Díaz
The Catcher in the Rye J. D. Salinger
The Color of Water James McBride
The Corrections Jonathan Franzen
The Devil in the White City Erik Larson
The Diary of a Young Girl Anne Frank
The Fault in Our Stars John Green  Yes
The Giver Lois Lowry
The Golden Compass Philip Pullman Yes
The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald  Yes
The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood
The House at Pooh Corner A. Milne Yes
The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins Yes
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Rebecca Skloot
The Liars’ Club Mary Karr
The Lightning Thief Rick Riordan
The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The Long Goodbye Raymond Chandler
The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 Lawrence Wright
The Lord of the Rings J.R.R. Tolkien
The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat Oliver Sacks
The Omnivore’s Dilemma Michael Pollan
The Phantom Tollbooth Norton Juster
The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingsolver
The Power Broker Robert A. Caro
The Right Stuff Tom Wolfe
The Road Cormac McCarthy
The Secret History Donna Tartt
The Shining Stephen King
The Stranger Albert Camus
The Sun Also Rises Ernest Hemingway
The Things They Carried Tim O’Brien
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eric Carle Yes
The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame Yes
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle Haruki Murakami
The World According to Garp John Irving
The Year of Magical Thinking Joan Didion
Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe
To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee
Unbroken Laura Hillenbrand
Valley of the Dolls Jacqueline Susann
Where the Sidewalk Ends Shel Silverstein
Where the Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak Yes

Hahahaha… this list was NOT designed for me… my total comes to

17 books

I don’t think the ones I’ve chosen will surprise many people… but I think some people will be shocked by some of the ones I’ve not read. (What can I say? I’m not a big classics fan!) I’ve just spotted that there’s a list of children’s books on there too… so I may total them up next week – I bet that number is higher! 

I’d like to add that I recently bought To Kill A Mockingbird and Catch 22… so maybe I can tick them off by the end of the year!

Are you shocked by my total?
Can you recommend me any from that list?
Would you like to have a go at this tag?

I’m not going to tag anyone because if you wanna have a go, just do it!

S x