Mini reviews: London edition

Last week, I was very lucky to spend time in London with one of my favourite humans in the world, Kelly. While we were in London, we spent much time reading, drinking tea and having a lovely relaxing time – perfect for bookworms like us! 

I thought I’d share mini reviews from the 6 books I managed to read in the 4 days I was away. I love a mini review – bitesize bookish love is always good! 

Book 1:
The Light Between Worlds – Laura Weymouth
Released November 1st from Chicken House

(proof cover!)

I absolutely adored this story – it was pretty unique. There was lots of juxtaposition in this book – the harshness of war vs the freedom of the forest, a need to be in the moment vs a want to be elsehwere – which made for brilliant reading. I adored Ev’s friends and family and I genuinely felt their love for her, but she frustrated me at times. There’s a lot of emotions explored in this book, and there’s some dark themes explored. 

Book 2:
Mr Lemoncello’s Great Library Race – Chris Grabenstein

Again, this was one that I thought was just wonderful. It was good for my brain to go from something quite dark to this library based caper. It is such fun! I would love to visit Mr. Lemoncello’s library and take part in his fun games. I hadn’t read the first 2 of these books before this one, but that didn’t spoil it whatsoever (I have since bought book 1 and 2!). This book is all about sharing the love of libraries, making friends and the power of the truth. I can’t wait to recommend this to the kids at school!

Book 3:
Oliver and the Seawigs – Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

I actually managed to pick this up from Oxfam Book Shop and it’s a good job too, because I finished Mr. Lemoncello quickly so needed a back up book to read! This is a funny, irreverent adventure with a young boy who makes friends with a mermaid and an island (I know right?!) and they have to fight off some baddies. I really enjoyed it, it’ll fit perfectly in our school library! I’d love to pick up more from these authors!

Book 4: 
More Happy Than Not – Adam Silvera

(yes that is more tea!)

When I finished this book I was very much not ok. I’ve been in Aaron’s shoes – wanting to be someone I’m not. I’m so sad for him. I can’t imagine going through what he ends up going through. This book is littered with love and the struggle with accepting who you are. Even now thinking back to this book, I am so sad for him. This book is one I would recommend EVERYONE READS. It is HEARTBREAKING. I didn’t see the twist coming, it shocked me. Adam Silvera continues to write incredible books. 

Book 5: 
Leah on the Offbeat – Becky Albertalli

(hey look at that guys, more tea!)

OH LEAH. I really wanted to love this. Don’t get me wrong, I did really enjoy it. There’s just things about it that frustrate me. I didn’t ship it, which as a serial shipper is a MASSIVE surprise to me, so it made it hard for me to get fully into. Having read Simon, I wanted to just swoon over everything, and I didn’t. I would recommend this book though, it is good. I think there’s a bit of me in Leah and there’s some of Leah’s personality I don’t like… so yeah. I have complex emotions about this book. 

Book 6:
The Friendship Fails of Emma Nash – Chloe Seagar

Friendship Fails of Emma Nash

This made me chuckle a lot. It’s funny and relatable. There were many moments where I cackled out loud. This is a book that teenagers will love. It’s well worth a read if you want something witty. Emma Nash goes through a LOT. 

So there you have it! My mini London reading haul!

Have you read any of these books?
Do you have thoughts about Leah that we can talk about?
Does Adam Silvera continue to break your heart too?

Lets talk!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Philip Pullman

Northern Lights: an emotional rollercoaster!

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“Lyra Belacqua and her animal daemon live half-wild and carefree among scholars of Jordan College, Oxford. The destiny that awaits her will take her to the frozen lands of the Arctic, where witch-clans reign and ice-bears fight. Her extraordinary journey will have immeasurable consequences far beyond her own world…”

Man, I loved Lyra. So so much. She’s just such a brilliant main character. I finished this book about a week ago and I STILL have FEELINGS about this book. I vividly remember the moment in this book where I needed to stop, message my friend Lucy to say I didn’t want to carry on reading because I was too traumatised, breathe, cry and then keep reading. That doesn’t happen often. I love books and I love them deeply. For a book to make me genuinely think about stop reading, that’s a big thing. (I bet you can probably guess the moment of this book… if you can comment or tweet me, cause I’m curious!)

Yes, yes, this is my first time of reading this book.
No, I don’t quite know how I bypassed it as a child.
Yes, it’s always been on my radar.
Yes, I own all of the books (in these WONDEFUL editions because shiny covers are the best!)
No, I’m not reading book 2 straight away (my brain needs a break!)

I can’t imagine as a child or a young teenager reading this book and being in ANY state afterwards. I was heartbroken at one point. There were SO MANY MOMENTS of “WTF OMG!” through the book. My friends were loving my reactions. I did a thread on twitter of my reactions and I can tell you there were a lot more than I put on there, because spoilers. 

Now when I started reading, I genuinely knew VERY LITTLE about this book. I knew it was about a girl called Lyra and there were armoured polar bears (that’s my friend Charlotte’s fault), but that’s about it. This meant when I started reading that I was BLOWN AWAY by it. The plot is just wonderful. The setting is lush. There are scenes that made me laugh (a polar bear at a pub getting drunk? Yes please!) and scenes that made me cry. Scenes that shocked me (that reveal about her parents?!). I think I felt EVERY emotion reading this book and I have no shame about it. There are so many plot twists and reveals in this book that just when you think you’re comfortable and know where you stand in your reading, you’re hit BAM IN THE FACE with something new, some hidden gem of information, some plot twist. So so good. So much recommendation from me.

In other news, I REALLY WANT A DAEMON. 

This book is magical, mystical and wonderful. I’m keen to read book 2 to see where Lyra’s story takes her. 

If you could have a daemon, what would you have?
What kind of daemon would you suggest for me?
Have you read Northern Lights?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments, or on twitter! I’d love your suggestions for my daemon!

S x

p.s. Mrs Coulter is a TERRIBLE person.

Half year in review!

Hello there!

Since we’ve done half a year already, I thought I’d share with you my half year in review! Sharing my fave 5 books for MG and YA with you!

Tomorrow comes my MG books I’m excited for for the rest of the year and next week I share the YA version of that! So many books I’m excited for! 

Books read this year: 84

MG books read this year: 56

YA books read this year: 28

I didn’t realise just how many kids books I had read this year. But Summer is an excellent chance for me to catch up with some YA. YALC is coming, so I need to prepare my brain for much YA reading. There’s a whole host of YA books that I need to purchase and get reading over the summer, so I have no doubt that by the end of August those numbers will both have increased but YA more so.

I read so much MG because I’m always on the look out for new books for school – both for me to use for teaching, but also to add to the school library. 

When I was thinking about what to include in this blog post, I initially went with “top 3 MG and YA books of the year so far” and then when I looked at the sheer amount of books I’ve read so far, I had to change that to top 5. This is HARD guys. I generally LOVE all of the books – that’s just who I am. But here goes… (ask me again for my top 5 in about a week and it’ll probably be different. No regrets. I just love the books)

Let’s start with…

5 favourite MG books I’ve read this year

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5 favourite YA books I’ve read this year

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There are SO MANY other books I could’ve included (honourable mentions galore, if you wanna know them ask me! I can recommend SO MANY OTHER BOOKS) and whittling it down to JUST books I’ve read this year (not books necessarily that have been released this year) and only 5 was HARD. 

(If you’re wondering, I read Goodbye Perfect and State of Sorrow LAST year, otherwise they’d be on the YA list WITHOUT a doubt)

So there you go. If you have any questions about other books, these books, anything else first half of the year bookish related, please ask! I am always happy to answer questions!

What have been your fave 5 books of the year?
Are there any books on my top 5 that you’ve not read?

Talk to me! I wanna know your top 5s!

S x

I Spy Book Challenge

Morning everyone! How are we all? 

Today I’m doing the I Spy Book Challenge, I was tagged by the brilliant Kelly (from Kelly’s Rambles, obv). Her answers were all great, you should go check out her post here!

The rules of this tag are as follows:

Find a book that contains (either on the cover or in the title) an example for each category. You must have a separate book for all 20, get as creative as you want and do it within five minutes!!”

DO IT WITHIN 5 MINS? This is not going to happen. I will try though! 

Here we go…

Food 

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Transportation

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Weapon

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Animal

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Number

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Something you read

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Body of Water

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Product of Fire

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Royalty

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Architecture

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Clothing

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Family member

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Time of Day

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Music

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Paranormal beings

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Occupation

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Season

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Colour

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Celestial body

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Something that grows

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Well that was stressful but fun! 

If you fancy giving this a go, please do! Tag yourselves! 

S x

BLOG TOUR: Children of Blood and Bone

Today, I have a very special blog post… 

Today, I’m celebrating the incredible Children of Blood and Bone with a mood board, which I think encapsulates all of the different kinds of maji there are in the book. 

Children of Blood and Bone is one of the most hotly anticipated books I’ve known for a LONG TIME. People have been talking about this for a WHILE. I can’t wait to share my review with you in the coming weeks… guys, it’s incredible. 

“Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.”

I was delighted to be invited onto this blog tour as the prompt was “be as creative as you wish”, so I was. I went back to my trusty Pinterest and came up with this mood board, which I just adore. 

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I subconciously went with all hands. I think hands are what all of these maji would’ve commited their magic with – their hands. Hands are important. There’s a whole host of maji which could be represented by the different hands, some which are specific. The golden hands speak to me of welders, using their hands to bend and manipulate metals. Black and white hands with light coming from them speak to me of lighters, able to use their hands to manipulate light and darkness.

The picture with the 3 generations of hands spoke to me of seers, those who can see the past, present and future. The hand with bird told me the story of tamers, using their hands to control and transform animals. The hand with galaxies/moons in them spoke to me of dreams; people who hold the world in their hands, the connector maji, those in control of other’s dreams. The varying pictures of light coming from hands spoke to me of healers (healer and cancer), those who have the power to do exceptional good, let light come from their hands to heal people. 

I think my favourite image is the man controlling the fire with his hands. For me, symbolising burners. Exceptional danger with fire. Controlling the air and the earth (winder and grounder) come next. The image representing the tiders speaks to me of those who control the waters with the touch of their hands, followed by an image for me, which represents reapers – those who have the power to access the spirits of the living and dead, an image of old and young hands

Which maji are you? Take the quiz and share it on twitter using #ChildrenofBloodandBone! I’m a Burner! Excellent! 

COBB Quiz UK

Thank you so much to Bea of MyKindaBook and PanMacmillan for inviting me on this blog tour!! I had such fun making this mood board… certainly got my creative juices flowing! 

S x

2018 Reading Challenges

Welcome to 2018! 

How fast did 2017 go? Where did those months go? I tell you where they went, they disappeared with all of the amazing books that we read! 

So in 2017 I managed to read 112 books (not counting picture books). That’s a lot of books, I know. I didn’t think I’d read that many, but hey… well done me! Well done you if you managed to even pick up 1 book and read it. 

Now that we’re in 2018, I need to set out some of the reading challenges that I will be taking part in, I say that like I’m taking part in lots… I’m not. However, I am going to read a lot. I hope. I will. 

I’ve pledged to join in with my lovely friend Rachel’s #read365. #read365 was something Rachel started for herself, but lots of us twitter people have jumped on her bandwagon and have decided to join her. #read365 is all about talking about what you’re reading, and reading every single day. I’m pledging to read, and talk about what I’m reading, every single day in 2018. There’s a load of us on twitter joining in and already it’s such a lovely group to be part of! 

I’ve also pledged to read books by British authors. I’ve joined the British Books Challenge for 2018. This challenge is all about reading books written by British authors and celebrating them! (I was so bad at keeping up with this challenge, BUT I did read a lot of British authors last year… so that’s ok yeah?)

My Goodreads total I have kept at 52. I think one book a week is the right amount. Yeah it doesn’t sound like a challenge but this year is going to be a big one for me. I’m going to be finishing qualifying, hopefully getting my own classroom and starting my class teacher journey. Who knows how much time I’m going to have to read? I will always make time, #read365 will ensure that. So 52 it is. I’m hoping I’ll smash it like I did in 2017… we shall see!

And there we go. So far those are the challenges I’m setting myself! I want to of course keep reading MG and YA books. That’s what you’ll find on my TBR and my read pile! Check out my twitter and my instagram@eenalol – for updates and pictures of what I’m reading! 

What are your reading challenges this year?
Do you set yourself a target number of books?
Are there any reading challenges you’re involved in that you think I should know about?

Talk to me! 

S x

#DesertIslandBooks: This time it’s personal

FIRST OF ALL: HAPPY CHRISTMAS YOU BUNCH OF SMASHERS. I hope Santa has visited your abode and blessed you with all of those books you wanted (but didn’t need cause your TBR is already 6039470 books long).

SECOND OF ALL: why are you here and not stuffing your face with chocolates? But please, stay. Today you are in for a treat. Today is THE DAY. (Not just Christmas Day!)

Today is the day.
TODAY I am castaway.
TODAY I HAVE TO MAKE THE CHOICES. 

Today’s castaway on #DesertIslandBooks is me. Steph. Good old me. I am the final castaway onto the island. 

We best get on with this then!

Rules: (as if you need to be reminded)

DIB rules

Here goes…

6 books I would take to a desert island? I’m going for a mix of old and new, YA and MG, just to mix things up a little.

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Melinda Salisbury – The Scarecrow Queen
If I could make it so there was a The Sin Eater’s Daughter trilogy printed as one book, I would rather that, but since there isn’t I am going for The Scarcrow Queen. It’s just incredible. Twylla’s journey is everything. 

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Who Let The Gods Out – Maz Evans
I love this book. It’s hilarious and brilliant. I’ll need something to laugh at on the island! I have reached so many kids at school with this book. I’m a bit of a mythology fangirl too, so the Greek mythology for me is just brilliant. I can’t wait for number 3 to come out.

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Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig
Now, this is a book I read this year and it’s just exceptional. I think everyone, regardless of who you are, should read this. It’s just everything I want in a book. It made me cry, it made me feel a little bit more whole. Matt Haig is one of the authors I properly discovered in 2017 and I am so glad.

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Matilda – Roald Dahl
SHOCK HORROR I KNOW WHO’D HAVE GUESSED IT? I have such a deep rooted love for this story. I could talk about why I love this book for hours. Matilda was one of the first books I ever remember reading and properly loving. Miss Honey is the reason I want to be a teacher. This book is important to me for a lot of reasons, I’d need to take it.

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Kane and Abel – Jeffrey Archer
This is a last minute change of plans addition. However, I read this book this year and it is just brilliant. Jeffrey Archer is an absolute master at storytelling. If you’re not an Archer fan normally, I would say give this a go. It’s just brilliant. The story telling, the characters: just brilliance. 

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A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard
I don’t have the words for how much I love this book. I just adore it. Sara is brilliant, and the world of Steffi and Rhys is such an incredible and brave world that I never wanted to leave. This book meant quite a lot to me when I read it, and still now has an impact. I make everyone read this. 

Honourable mentions to:
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – C.S.Lewis
The Master Magician – Charlie N. Holmberg
How To Stop Time – Matt Haig
Charlotte’s Web – E.B.White

What snack would I like to have on the island? Something I’m not going to fed up with?

If you know me, you know I am a total crisp fiend. Provide me with a vast variety of crisps and I will be fine. I make the rules, so I say a variety of crisps is more than acceptable.

An unlimited amount of beverage? I mean, I’d probably choose a soft drink rather than a hot drink…

Tea. 1 sugar. Just a little bit of milk. (Or diet coke…)

1 album, or 15 songs? THIS was so much harder than choosing books… SO MUCH HARDER.

Gaston – Beauty and the Beast Soundtrack (2017)
Perfect – Ed Sheeran

Photograph – Ed Sheeran
Castle on the Hill – Ed Sheeran
Dog Days are Over – Florence and the Machine
You Can’t Stop The Beat – Hairspray Soundtrack (2007)
Show Me Love – Robin S
Waiting all Night – Rudimental
Sing – Pentatonix
Superstition – Stevie Wonder
Ho Hey – The Lumineers

Proud Mary – Tina Turner
Afraid of Heights – Tom Fletcher

I Was Made For Loving You – Tori Kelly and Ed Sheeran
Flying Without Wings – Westlife

(I can’t guarantee that this would be the same list if you asked me again another day!)

OH NO NOT THE DESERT ISLAND POLICE!! Let’s be real, I make the rules, I could just tell them they’re fired… but I’ll play along.

I’ll save:

Matilda and Photograph – Ed Sheeran

And that’s it. Matilda and Ed Sheeran is me to a tee.

I wanna say a massive thank you to everyone who agreed to be castaway for my silly little blog feature. Never did I imagine when I thought of this idea that some of my favourite bloggers and authors would want to be involved. I have absolutely LOVED seeing everyone’s posts and it has been an absolute joy hosting them on my blog! You are all wonderful people and thank you for making the hard choices. I didn’t realise how hard it was until now… until I had to make them! Let me know if you’d be interested in my feature coming in the new year! 

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas Day! 

S x

Down the TBR hole again…

So… here we go again. Clearing out my TBR shelf – if you want to know more about this, check out my first post here: Down the TBR hole….

Let’s get on with it, see which books I’m going to KEEP, and which I’m going to REMOVE.

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The Death Instinct – Jed Rubenfeld
Now, I actually own this book, so that is a factor to it staying. I read the one before this and really loved it. I think for now I will KEEP this book, in the hopes I get round to it quickly!

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The Girl with Glass Feet – Ali Shaw
TO say I remember adding this book would be a lie. I don’t think I have any recollection of this book. However, having read the synopsis, it sounds RIGHT up my street with magical beings, so I’ll hope I can get a copy and I shall KEEP it.

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The Assassin’s Curse – Cassandra Rose Clarke
I’m not sure if this is the same Cassandra Clarke as the other one. Again, I have NO recollection of adding this to be honest. It’s got magic in it which makes me want to keep it, however I think I’ll REMOVE it as it just doesn’t grip me.

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The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness
I know, I know. HOW HAVE I NOT READ THIS? Well, I didn’t own this til this year. Now that it is on my shelf I plan on getting round to reading it. PLUS the film is being shot/done shooting, so I will want to see that! This is a firm KEEP.

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The Girl who Circumnavigated the Fairyland in a Shop of her Own Making – Catherynne Valente
Now I’m 90% sure I started this on my kindle and just couldn’t get in to it. I think for now I will REMOVE it, but it seems like that kind of book that will keep cropping up in my life!

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The Call of the Weird – Louis Theroux
I love Louis Theroux, so there is NO QUESTION about the fact this book is a KEEP.

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I am the Messenger – Markus Zusak
This is by the same author as The Book Thief, which is a book I adore, and having read the synopsis on Goodreads I think I might KEEP this and hope to get my hands on a copy, eventually. 

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Saenz
Again, I have NO recollection of adding this, but a few of my friends have mentioned it recently and I’ve just read the blurb and it sounds brilliant. KEEP is the choice.

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The Vast Fields of Ordinary – Nick Burd
I have absolutely no clue why I added this. I am going to REMOVE this from my list.

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The Library of the Dead – Glenn Cooper
I clearly added this when I was reading other books of this type. This sounds like a great one if I’m ever in a crime mood, but I’m going to REMOVE it for now. 

So there we go! Down the TBR hole number 2 done, I removed 4 books and kept 6. I think I am going to have to start being more brutal. My IRL TBR is much more than the one on my Goodreads, but we’ll forget that!

Have you read any of the books on my list?
Which ones would you keep or remove?
Do you agree with my choices?

Talk to me on twitter, via email, or in the comments!

S x

DesertIslandBooks – notsotweets

Hello!

As I said in the last #DesertIslandBooks post, there are only a few left! Today features one of my newest twitter pals, Liam who tweets over at @notsotweets. I hope you enjoy! 

Rules:

DIB rules

Right, just six books. This is where I regret how many times I’ve called other people out for cheating by taking collections, isn’t it?

Ok, book one is The Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien. This is the fantasy epic of fantasy epics. A book so vast in its scope that it starts with creation and the entirety of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings is recounted in the last three pages. Yet it’s full of amazing characters, tragic romances, huge battles, heroes with fatal flaws and a villain so terrible that Sauron is his lieutenant. Oh, and an elf lord taking on a dozen balrogs.

Book two is Wild by Cheryl Strayed. This is the true story of a woman whose life is totally falling apart, who takes herself off to walk the Pacific Crest Trail in western america alone. I first read it at a very low point in my own life, and it inspired me to get outside, go walking, go camping and to find something I could use to start to rebuild myself.

Book three is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I adore this book. The magic in it is so subtle and so beautifully realised. The story unfolds before you like a complex, wondrous puzzle. Each scene is described so perfectly. I don’t want to go and live in a fantasy world, I just want one night in this magical circus, and every time I read this book that’s what I get.

Book four has to be Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. It’s my favourite comfort reading, and I’ve got about half a dozen copies with illustrations by different people. My current favourite is the Arthur Rackham illustrated one, so I’ll take that.

Book five will be American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Some books are genre-defining. This one is genre-defying. It won major awards for crime, horror and fantasy genre fiction. It’s deep, it’s complex, it’s often emotional, it’s mysterious. It’s also pretty long.

Book six will have to be a bird guide. I’m really into birding, and the idea of being on a desert island and not being able to identify all of the birds I see is a frightful one. My Collins guide to the birds of Britain and Europe has been up mountains, through gales, spent nights in forests, and crossed seas with me, and it looks like it has too. But I’ll take whatever book is appropriate depending on where this island is, please.

You are allowed to take a snack of your choosing: this will be provided in an unlimited quantity. 

I normally prefer savoury snacks to sweet ones, but the best accompaniment to reading has to be biscuits, particularly biscuits in an unlimited quantity! If I had to pick I’d probably go with a classic like custard creams, but an assortment would be great.

You may choose from unlimited supplies of tea or coffee. 

Tea please! 

You are entitled to carry with you 1 music album/playlist (not surpassing 15 songs).
This was actually a lot harder than the books!

Things the Grandchildren Ought to Know – Eels
Take Me to Church – Hozier
Once Upon a Dream – Lana Del Ray
Invitation to the Blues – Tom Waits (this one is like a crime noir story in five and a half minutes!)
Avenue of Hope – I Am Kloot
Walk Unafraid – First Aid Kit
Letters From The Sky – Civil Twilight
I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Marvin Gaye and the Grant Lazlo Orchestra
Wish for Something More – Amy MacDonald
If You Could Read My Mind – Johnny Cash
FEELING CALLED LOVE – Pulp
Set The Fire to the Third Bar – Snow Patrol and Martha Wainwright
Should I Fall Behind – Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Black Parade – My Chemical Romance
PS You Rock My World – Eels

You MUST CHOOSE ONE BOOK and ONE SONG from your playlist/album that you get to keep when the Desert police come along. 

My bird book and Walk Unafraid.

In addition to this book, you will be given the entire works of Shakespeare and the Bible (totally not stealing from Desert Island Discs, no sir) 

Excellent! The Bible gets a bit of scorn in these lists, but I’m looking at it as a 73 book series by a whole host of different authors spanning genres from history and law to some fairly steamy poetry and post-apocalyptic fantasy. And I know some Shakespeare, but there’s loads I’ve never read. I’ll soon be wandering the beach giving lengthy speeches to the crabs.

Thank you so much for choosing this journey on DesertJet. Remember the rules are simple, but strict. 

Thank you for letting me play. It’s amazing, one minute you meet a woman in a bookshop and excitedly explain the plot of “The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish.” to her, next thing you know she’s sending you to a desert island, miles away from anyone, completely on your own. Hang on, maybe I need to rethink my life…

Hahaha, that really is how Liam and I met. We had been friends on Twitter for a while and then I heard him talking about that book in Waterstones… then tweeted him about it! Thank you for playing, Liam!

S x