#CelebrateYA

HELLO.

IT IS ME. Your resident YA loving bookworm. 

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

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

So, why YA?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, where do I start?

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

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

I loved them all and they’re ALL YA.

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

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

Now let’s keep the conversation going:

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

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

S x

An Amazing Blog Tour

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Today I have the ABSOLUTE joy of being part of the Amazing blog tour. I was so incredibly lucky to be asked to host a Q&A with the incredibly brilliant Steve Antony – author and illustrator extraordinare.

As soon as I knew I was doing a Q&A, it was inevitable that I had to get my kids involved, so they helped me write the questions (there were SO many they had, so I had to whittle it down!)

Check out the questions and some brilliant responses from the man himself! 

What’s your favourite thing about going to schools?

Apart from chomping biscuits and nattering with teachers in the staff room, I always enjoy seeing all the artwork that classes have created. Whether it be acrylic self-portraits, cardboard dioramas, character pumpkins or even something as simple as paper snowflakes, I really do believe that art brings a school to life.

Funniest memory of visiting schools?

The funniest moments come during Q&A. Children don’t have filters, do they? The younger the audience the odder the questions. Is the Queen your granny? Are you Ed Sheeran? Why don’t you comb your hair?

Also, being greeted by over 200 children (and teachers) dressed as pandas on World Book Day was something I will never forget.

What memories do you have of reading as a child?

Most of my earliest and clearest memories of reading take me back to my school library. I remember that feeling of being surrounded by hundreds of stories just waiting to be discovered. I was never a fast reader and I preferred books with pictures, I still do, but there was something empowering about just being in my school library. Sadly, many children may never know that feeling, which is why the #GreatSchoolLibraries campaign is so important. The campaign aims to bring school libraries and librarians back to every school in the UK, because every child deserves a great library. You can find out more about the Great School Libraries campaign at: http://www.greatschoollibraries.edublogs.org

I also have fond memories of our public library. That’s where I discovered some of my favourite authors and Illustrators.

Do you remember the first book you read as a child that made you want to write?

Even as a very young child I loved to draw. But it was picture books like Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak and The Munch Bunch (created by Barrie and Elizabeth Henderson and illustrated by Angela Mitson) that inspired me to imagine my own characters and tell stories with drawings.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I believe that inspiration is everywhere, but you have to tune in to it. I like to prove this theory in my story-building workshops. By the end of each workshop almost everybody has an idea for a story, and some even have synopses!

Books are a fantastic source of inspiration, which is why the library is the perfect place to feel inspired. Many of my stories were inspired by something I’d seen in a book, magazine or newspaper.

What is your typical writing routine? From first draft to final draft?

People often think I spend all day writing and drawing, but there’s so much involved in being an author and illustrator. In fact, last week I only spent around 5 hours working on my next picture book because the rest of my time was spent on emails, events, my website, blogs, taxes and marketing. As part of this blog tour, I wrote a ‘Day in the Life’ guest post for Acorn Books, which you might find interesting. https://acornbooksblog.wordpress.com

It takes about 4-5 months to start and finish a picture book. Normally my publisher will select a couple of ideas from my sketchbook for me to develop (this usually happens when I’m at the tail- end stages of finishing another picture book). In order to develop ideas into stories I do need plenty of time and space to breath because I find it hard to tap into my imagination during busy spells. I normally get a gut feeling if a story is working or not. As a general rule it has to feel easy, and if ever I feel like I’m rowing upstream, I let go of the oars. Once I’m happy with my story concept, I move on to character development, pacing and paginating. This can take weeks or months. The very last stage involves drawing the final artwork and tweaking the text, which can take anywhere up to three months.

What’s next for you?

Magic Light Pictures are currently developing the Mr Panda cartoon series, which is incredibly exciting. I’ve got more books in the pipeline, including a brand-new character that I’ve yet to create! The next Mr Panda book, We Love You, Mr Panda, comes out later in the year. I’ll soon be meeting with Swindon Libraries to discuss the next borough-wide art completion (I hold at least one art contest with them per year). Also, I hope to start writing a chapter book soon, but not even my publisher knows that yet! But before any of that happens, I’m going on my honeymoon, because I just got married!

It’s only day 3 of this blog tour and it has already been amazing (no pun intended!). Go check out the other blog posts so far, and watch out for the rest of the posts coming in the next few days! I am so incredibly excited for this book.

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Massive massive thank you to the brilliant people of Hachette Kids for asking me to be on this blog tour and Steve Antony for answering our questions! My kids and I had such a blast, and it’s been a pleasure reading Steve’s answers. I’ll be sharing them with my kids at some point today! 

S x 

Using blurbs in the classroom

As you saw the other day, I was very very lucky to be able to share the exclusive cover of Aisha Bushby’s new book A Pocketful of Stars (if you missed the announcement, check it out here!) 

It got me thinking about using blurbs in the classroom and how much we really learn about a book from its blurb. What do we learn about the characters? What about the plot? What about the themes? 

My kids are proper book devourers (more about reading in my classroom next week!) and I thought it would make a brilliant lesson to share with them the blurb of A Pocketful of Stars and give them the chance to design a cover based solely on the information given in the blurb.

Initially, a few of them were quite hesitant because they wanted more information – which obviously I couldn’t provide, because I didn’t know it myself – but after a bit of encouragement, they all had a go. We had a chance to have some discussions about what makes a good cover, what makes you want to pick up a book, what covers of books should give away and the kids were SO engaged. Once we’d had a talk about covers, they got talking about their ideas and started to share ideas. 

I literally only gave them a blank sheet of A5 paper and told them they had time to design their cover… and this is what some of them came up with!

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I LOVE all of them – the kids all put their hearts into their designs and really thought about what they’d want to go on the cover. 

This is definitely something I’d do again. The levels of engagement and the thought that they put into it made me so proud! I even got to show them to Aisha too and she loved them! 

What are your favourite book activities to do in the classroom?
What would you have put on the cover?
Do you have a favourite cover of the designed ones?

I can’t wait to show my kids the actual finished cover. One of my girls will be very surprised at how close her design is! 

S x 

S4S – Bookish loves

Hello friends! 

It is Sunday again. HOW DOES THE WEEKEND GO SO QUICKLY? I’ve had such a lovely week this week, that it’s only fitting that this #SixforSunday is celebrating things that are excellent about books! 

Today we are celebrating:

Bookish loves

Yep. Only 6 things I love about books. I’m going to go with characters/plots/genres I love the most. 

  1. ANYTHING WITH MAGIC IN. 
    I am SUCH a sucker for magic. If there’s even the tiniest bit of magic in a book, I AM THERE. I would really love to be magical.
  2. Romance
    I am A BIG SOFTIE (I know, you’d never guess it!) and I’m all about that couple who have a lovely relationship. I’m all about first kisses, bad boys with a heart of gold, shipping a couple forever and then it happening. I’m a big lover of love.
  3. Potions and such things
    YEP. I think this comes from the magic loving thing, but I love any kind of potion-y thing. I’m just a sucker. (Mel, I’m looking at you)
  4. Musical books
    Not books of musicals, but books that throw musical references in. I’m ALL ABOUT music making an appearance into books. I think it just adds another dimension to a story.
  5. Folklore/mythology
    LOL YEP. If a book is based on a folklore, or even has its own folklore, I am THERE. I love stories within stories. I just love stories. 
  6. Reading positive depictions of teachers
    Teachers get a BAD rep in a lot of books, so when I come across a book where there’s positive representation of teacher/teacher figures, it makes me so happy. (This is a whole other blog post I could write about teacher representation in YA novels… but we’ll leave that for another day!)

Let’s be real, that doesn’t even scrape the surface of the things I love about books, but it was the first 6 that came to my fingertips as I typed. 

I’d love to know your 6 bookish loves! Don’t forget to link to me and use the hashtag #SixforSunday if you’re sharing on twitter. I love seeing the #SixforSunday love spreading around the place!

See you next week! 

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Jason Reynolds

Ghost: a brilliant tale of grit and determination

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“Running. That’s all that Ghost (real name Castle Cranshaw) has ever known. But never for a track team. Nope, his game has always been ball. But when Ghost impulsively challenges an elite sprinter to a race — and wins — the Olympic medalist track coach sees he has something: crazy natural talent. Thing is, Ghost has something else: a lot of anger, and a past that he is trying to outrun. Can Ghost harness his raw talent for speed and meld with the team, or will his past finally catch up to him?”

Ghost follows the story of a young boy (not Ghost by name, Ghost by nickname) who is going through a lot. He’s fighting a few losing battles. School isn’t great, home isn’t wonderful and he just wants to play ball. That is until he happens upon a track practice and he boldly joins in. What ensues is an incredible Coach, a team who become his friends and some life changing decisions which will shock!

Ghost is a pretty proud young man, dealing with some pretty intense things in his life. He’s bullied, his dad wasn’t a great man, he’s trying to hide who he really is from the world. He’s surrounded by people who have plenty when he doesn’t. He’s a great main character. I think lots of kids will warm to him. He does things wrong, he makes mistakes. He goes from being quite a lonely and troubled young man to a young man with an incredibly diverse set of people around him who believe in him. 

This book doesn’t shy away from some pretty gritty and dark themes. Rather, it deals with them in a way in which is accessible to kids. There’s storylines around bullying, dealing with home issues and stealing – all of which are dealt with brilliantly. I loved the fact that Ghost has to deal with the things he does wrong. He doesn’t get “let off” for any of the things he does wrong. Because that’s life. You do something wrong, there’s usually some kind of consequence. 

There’s one big, massive, shining light in this book and that’s Coach. He’s this exceptional character. He’s selfless, motivating, passionate. I just think he was a proper standout character in this book. He shows Ghost that there’s no point trying to run away from yourself, but that you should accept who you are and embrace it. He shows Ghost that if you do something wrong, you will have to face the consequences. But he’s kind and caring. He cares about the kids on the running team like they’re his own kids. There’s a brilliant scene in a diner between Coach and the “newbies” on the team that I just loved. 

My goodreads review:

This book is gritty, determined and shocking at times. I just thought it was incredible. A gripping story about a young boy who is running from his past and ends up in more trouble. Along comes someone who believes in him and things start to change. Bloody yes. This book is a proper victory.

This book gave me some real Wing Jones feels. Just like when I finished Wing Jones, I finished this book thinking “god, I wish I was a runner!” so that’s something! 

A massive thank you to the brilliant humans of Ed PR and Knights Of for sending me a surprise copy of this! I absolutely adored it. Keep doing the good work you guys are doing! If you want to know more about the incredible work Knights Of are doing, check out their website here and follow them on twitter for more updates. They’re killing the game at the minute and it’s SO incredible to watch!

Have you read anything by Jason Reynolds?
Are you following the amazing things Knights Of are doing?
Has a book ever made you want to take up running?

Talk to me! If you recommend me enough running books, I’ll have to take it up eventually hah!

S x 

 

BLOG TOUR: The Fork, The Witch and the Worm

HELLO. It’s me! On a Saturday… I know. You guys are spoiled by me.

Today, as part of a brilliant blog tour, I’m sharing an exclusive extract of the new book, The Fork, The Witch and the Worm by Christopher Paolini.

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“Welcome back to the world of Alagaësia. It’s been a year since Eragon departed Alagaësia in search of the perfect home to train a new generation of Dragon Riders. Now he is struggling with an endless sea of tasks: constructing a vast dragonhold, wrangling with suppliers, guarding dragon eggs, and dealing with belligerent Urgals and haughty elves. Then a vision from the Eldunarí, unexpected visitors, and an exciting Urgal legend offer a much-needed distraction and a new perspective. This volume features three original stories set in Alagaësia, interspersed with scenes from Eragon’s own unfolding adventure. Included is an excerpt from the memoir of the unforgettable witch and fortune-teller Angela the herbalist . . . penned by Angela Paolini, the inspiration for the character, herself! Relish the incomparable imagination of Christopher Paolini in this thrilling new collection of stories based in the world of the Inheritance Cycle.”

Rather excitingly, I have not only an extract from the first chapter to share with you all, but in the next few days my review will also go live! Trust me… for fans of Eragon, this book is INCREDIBLE!

Chapter I

Mount Arngor

The day had not gone well.

Eragon leaned back in his chair and took a long drink of blackberry mead from the mug by his hand. Sweet warmth blossomed in his throat, and with it memories of summer afternoons spent picking berries in Palancar Valley. A pang of homesickness struck him.

The mead had been the best thing to come out of his meeting with Hruthmund, the dwarven representative. A gift to strengthen the bonds of friendly association between dwarves and Riders— or so Hruthmund had claimed.

Eragon snorted. Some friendship. He’d spent the whole meeting arguing with Hruthmund over when the dwarves would deliver the supplies they’d promised. Hruthmund seemed to believe once every three to four months was more

than sufficient, which was absurd considering the dwarves lived closer to the Academy than any of the other races. Even Nasuada had managed to send monthly shipments from the other side of the Hadarac Desert, far to the west.

I’ll have to arrange a talk with Orik and sort it out with him directly.

Just one more thing to do amid a seemingly endless sea of tasks. Eragon eyed the mounds of scrolls, books, maps, and loose pieces of parchment that covered the desk in front of him, all of which required his attention. He sighed, finding the sight depressing.

He shifted his gaze out the large, rough- hewn windows that fronted the eyrie. Rays of evening light streamed across the windswept plains that lay below, surrounding Mount Arngor. To the north and west, the Edda River gleamed like a ribbon of

beaten silver draped across the landscape. A pair of ships lay docked along the nearest bend, and from that docking, a trail led south to the foothills piled about the base of Arngor.

The mountain had been Eragon’s choice— in consultation with Saphira and their traveling companions— for the Dragon Riders’ new home. It was more than that too: a safeguard for the Eldunarí and, hopefully, a nesting ground for the next generation of dragons.

The high, slab- sided peak was a trailing remnant of the Beor Mountains, shorter than those towering giants but still many times bigger than the mountains of the Spine Eragon had grown up with. It stood alone in the green expanse of the eastern reaches, two weeks of slow sailing beyond the bounds of Alagaësia proper.

South of Arngor the land was rumpled like a blanket and ruffled with trees whose leaves shone silver in the wind, bright as the scales of a fish. Farther to the east stood scarps and cliffs and huge, flat- topped pillars of stone crested with piles of vegetation. Among them lived groups of wandering tribes: strange, half- wild humans the likes of which Eragon had never encountered before. So far they had proven no trouble, but he remained wary.

Such was his responsibility now.

The mountain bore many names. Arngor was Dwarvish for White Mountain, and indeed, the upper thirds were clad in snow and ice and— from

a distance— the peak glowed with a startling brilliance amid the verdant plains. But it also had an older, secret name in Dwarvish. For as the expedition Eragon led had begun to settle among the foothills of the mountain, they had discovered tunnels burrowed into the stone beneath, and there in runes inscribed Gor Narrveln, which meant Mountain of Gems. Some ancient clan or tribe of dwarves had sunk mines deep into the roots of the peak.

The dwarves who had joined Eragon’s group had been excited by the discovery, and they spent much time debating who had made the mines and what gems might still be found.

In the ancient language, the mountain was known as Fell Thindarë, which meant Mountain of Night. The elves could not tell Eragon where the name came from— nor the reason for it— so he rarely used it. But he also heard them refer to the peak as Vaeta, or Hope. He found this fitting, as the Dragon Riders were a hope for all the races of Alagaësia.

If that’s not enough to make you want to read on, you should definitely check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour! There’s some brilliant posts! 

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Massive thank you to Ed PR for asking me to be on this blog tour! It’s always such fun to be on blog tours (especially surprise posts on a Saturday!)

S x 

 

CHCC YA Bookish Joy Blog Fest!

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Hey everyone! 

Today I have the abolsute joy of kicking off the CHCC YA Bookish Joy Blog Fest: a blog tour which will see some of my favourite bloggers celebrating everything they love about books. When I was initially asked to be on this blog tour, it was pitched to me as “write a letter to someone who made you the bookish you you are” and I was SOLD. I’ve toyed between writing to my favourite author (I give you 3 guesses as to who I would write to), my favourite main character (again, I bet you could guess… or maybe not!), my parents, the kids I teach (this would’ve made me cry, a lot!) and so many other options. I’ve decided however to write a letter to books. It sounds a bit weird, but I hope my letter will explain what I mean!

Dear books,

Yep, those things you pick up, open and read the words. That’s what I’m writing a letter to. Books are magical. Have you ever picked one up and been transported somewhere new? In the space of the past few weeks, I’ve been living with Greek Gods, lived in a lighthouse during WW2, lived in magical London where Big Ben is the keeper of time and I’ve even lived a story through the eyes of an African Grey parrot. Where else can you be transported to these places but in books? Where else can you learn about empathy and living life through someone else’s eyes other that in books? 

Books are not only a unique mode of transportation, but they can be transformational. They have the power to cheer up, sadden, inspire, motivate, anger. You will read a book in your life that changes your life. That will connect you to yourself and to others. I’m very lucky that I’ve had so many books and people in my life that have made me a better person. I can’t imagine my life without the bookish love in it. My friends, some of my very best friends, have come my way because of books.

I read Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive at a pretty down part in my life and it had such a profound impact on me. That might be cliched, but it’s true – it’s one of those special books. 

Books are such a massive part of my life: as a teacher, as a human, as a blogger. I just think there’s something very special and magical about them. I believe there’s the perfect book out there for everyone. I’ve seen kids’ attitudes to reading change entirely once they read “that” book. 

As Roald Dahl put it in Matilda (yep, of course I’m quoting Matilda… sue me!)
“These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.” 

So books, thank you. For making me who I am. For giving me the people in my life that I am so eternally grateful for. For making me laugh, cry and be moved. 

S x 

If you’d like to go along to the CHCC YA Festival, you can get tickets from here. There are some amazing authors lined up this year and it promises to be a brilliant day! Even more excitingly, there’s a 10% code for you, my loyal readers! Go get your tickets and enter YAFEST10 – valid until 28th Feb for a one time use! Go forth and purchase!

Go check out the rest of the blog tour in the coming days! You’re in for a real treat. 

S x 

 

2018 BIG BLOG POST

**2018 READING STATS**

Number Of Books You Read: 162
Number of Re-Reads: 0
Genre You Read The Most From: Fantasy?

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1. Best Book You Read In 2018?

YA – Scythe. MG – The Nowhere Emporium

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Out of the Blue – I didn’t NOT like it… I just didn’t love it as much as lots of other people did.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read? 

Show Stopper by Hayley Barker. I’d heard quite a lot about it and it took me a few months to actually pick it up and read it.. but my god guys. I’m sorry I ever slept on that duology.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

LOL. Anything Melinda Salisbury or Maz Evans have ever written.

5. Best series you started in 2018? Best Sequel of 2018? Best Series Ender of 2018?

Best series? Amelia Fang series by Laura Ellen Anderson. Those books are such fun!
Best sequel? THIS IS A HARD ONE. I read a LOT of sequels in 2018. I’m gonna have to say Fierce Fragile Hearts by Sara Barnard though, because I consumed that book in like 3 hours in the middle of a total reading block.
Best series ender? Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2018?

Leigh Bardugo. I wanna worship the ground that woman walks on having read Six of Crows.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig. I’m not a massive non-fiction (??) reader, but I will read ANYTHING that man writes.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

WHAT? JUST ONE? Rude. Scythe by Neal Shusterman. That book seriously blew my mind. I loved it.

9. Book You Read In 2018 That You Would Be MOST Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

The Truth Pixie by Matt Haig. I have big plans for that book in the classroom!

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2018?

Pages and Co by Anna James.

11. Most memorable character of 2018?

Kaz bloody Brekker. *swoon*

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2018?

Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell. I just adored that story.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2018?

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera. It REALLY made me think about me as a person and how I identify and how others see me. Basically, that book ruined my soul.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2018 to finally read? 

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2018?

OH LORD KNOWS.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2018?

Shortest? Shona, Word Detective by John Agard
Longest? Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

17. Book That Shocked You The Most

Shocked in WHICH way my friends? Like scary shock? Like unbelievable shock? I think White Rabbit, Red Wolf by Tom Palmer gets ALL THOSE ACOLADES. That book BLEW MY MIND repeatedly.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Amani and Jin 4LIFE. But also Kaz and Inej.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

The friendship of the girls in Fierce Fragile Hearts. Sara Barnard writes female friendships so BLOODY well.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2018 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Fierce Fragile Hearts by Sara Barnard.

21. Best Book You Read In 2018 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure/Bookstagram, Etc.:

Oh god. I read Six of Crows because Kelly (of Rambles fame) kept telling me I had to. So I did and my god.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2018?

LOL ALL OF THEM? I mean Jin isn’t a NEW crush, but he’s 100% my top fictional crush of ever.

23. Best 2018 debut you read?

SHUT UP MAN. How rude. SO SO MANY. Jack of Hearts and Other Parts by Lev Rosen. (I THINK that’s a debut??)

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Show Stopper and Show Stealer by Hayley Barker. Bloody yes.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Theatrical by Maggie Harcourt. I hope she keeps writing books that just MAKE ME SMILE.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2018?

HELLO FRIENDS, DO YOU KNOW ME AT ALL? I cry at ALL of the books. The ones that made me cry most however were: A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G.Drews or More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Slay by Kim Curran. PROPER GOOD.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

LOL ALL OF THEM. A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G.Drews can take that title though.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2018?

A Darkness of Dragons by S.A.Patrick. I loved the infusion of a “traditional tale” with magic.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Leah on the Offbeat. Dear my lord, don’t let me get started.

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1. New favorite book blog/Bookstagram/Youtube channel you discovered in 2018?

GEORGE LESTER IS MY FAVOURITE. 

2. Favorite post you wrote in 2018?

Oooooooh. An interesting question. It’s not ONE, but it’s a type of post I love writing – my happy posts. 

3. Favorite bookish related photo you took in 2018?

Haha, any time I took a good picture which showed off the metallic of a front cover?

4. Best bookish event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events,  etc.)?

I’m gonna have to say when I got to chair Melinda Salisbury and Alice Broadway at Waterstones Newcastle. EASILY one of my favourite memories of 2018. All of my favourite people were in the same room, watching me interview two of my favourite authors in the world.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2018?

Any time someone said “I read your review and I knew I needed to buy that book”. That’s the big winner for me.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

I think this year I experienced, for the first time, a total reading block. I don’t know whether it was tiredness, or what, but I had a good month where I read very little.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Of course it is my one and only queen: Melinda Salisbury. This here review of State of Sorrow had almost 4000 views this year!

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Hmmm… I do not know!

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Another one, I’m not entirely sure!

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I did! I set out to read 52 books in 2018 (that’s a book a week) and I SMASHED it. And no, I won’t be upping that for 2019.

looking-ahead-books-2015

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2018 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2019?

I guess 2019 is when I should finally get round to reading The Hate U Give or A Darker Shade Of Magic.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2019 (non-debut)?

SONG OF SORROW OK? I’VE BEEN WAITING A YEAR.

BUT ALSO. AGAINST ALL GODS. COME ON GUYS.

3. 2019 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

A Pocketful of Stars by Aisha Bushby.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2019?

Again… SONG OF SORROW OK? I’VE BEEN WAITING A YEAR.

BUT ALSO. AGAINST ALL GODS. COME ON GUYS.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2019?

Keep blogging. Keep reading. Get to as many bookish events as I can.

6. A 2019 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable):

FIERCE FRAGILE HEARTS BY SARA BARNARD.

Thank you and goodnight! If you got all the way down here, congratulations, you earn a star.

S x

Best of 2018: YA edition

It’s time! It is the end of 2018 and here comes my “best of the year” series!

For books to be considered in the “best of 2018” series, I had to have read them in 2018. So this discounts some of my favourite 2018 releases…

Today’s best of series takes on:

2018 best ya header

Hello, my name is Steph and I love YA books. I am VERY sad because due to my own rules there are a few books which SHOULD be on this list but can’t be. Let’s just take a moment to appreciate State of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury, The Exact of Opposite by Laura Steven and Goodbye Perfect by Sara Barnard. These books WERE released in 2018, but I read them in 2017 so could not be considered for the list. Sad sad times. BUT BLOODY BRILLIANT BOOKS.

Anyway… let’s get on with the list!

2018 best ya(there’s a lot of orangey red tones on this list!)

Fierce Fragile Hearts: Sara Barnard

Oh Sara. This follow up to Beautiful Broken Things turned me into a broken thing with a fragile heart. I loved everything about this book and I am yet to put my throughts into a cohesive bunch to write a review. Watch out for this in 2019 please kids.

Scythe: Neal Shusterman

GUYS. GUYS. THIS BOOK. I BLOODY loved this book. It had EVERYTHING I wanted in it. It was menacing, brilliant and clever. Just exceptional.

More Happy Than Not: Adam Silvera

THIS BROKE MY HEART. I loved little Aaron and have been in his shoes. Every now and again, I remember this book and it makes me SO SAD. But it’s SO worth a read. Go on.

Show Stopper: Hayley Barker

So it seems 2018 was the year I loved circus books. Show Stopper (and its sequel Show Stealer) was just EVERYTHING. There was danger, a horrible horrible villain and a brilliant cast of characters on the side of good. I devoured this duology in no time and would recommend you all do it too!

Floored: the Floored 7

Of course this book was going to make my list. I BLOODY LOVED IT. Such a clever idea. Such a brilliant story. I can’t wait to reread this book some time. If you wanna read a book by some of the most talented humans in the world, get your hands on this.

Six of Crows: Leigh Bardugo

Another book I’ve slept on for a while, but as soon as I started reading… that was it. SoC is JUST EXCEPTIONAL. Kaz Brekker is everything. There are no other words. I need more of Brekker in my life and you definitely need him in your life if you don’t know of him. Danger, wit and friendship.

Clean: Juno Dawson

This book made me swear on the tube it’s THAT good. It’s gritty and dark. Lexi is one of those characters who stick with you. I read this book months ago and she’s still there in my head.

Spark: Alice Broadway

If there’s one thing I love about a book, it’s when there’s a folklore woven beautifully into it and Alice GETS IT RIGHT EVERY TIME. Spark (and Ink, its predecessor) are just exceptional pieces of storytelling (GIMME THE 3RD ONE PLZ SCHOLASTIC)

A Thousand Perfect Notes: C.G.Drews

We ALL KNEW there’d be a book on this list that absolutely made me cry like a baby and here we have it. This book broke me in pieces. It’s SO horrific, but so light. I can’t describe how incredible this book is. It just is. Please go and treat yourself to it.

Hero at the Fall: Alwyn Hamilton

HOW SAD I AM THIS SERIES IS OVER. But this book was the most satisfying end it could’ve had. I was STUNNED at one point. It made me cry, it made me happy, it shocked me. Jin ❤

THERE WERE SO SO SO MANY MORE that could have been on the list. YA in 2018 seemed to be on another level. I can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store, 2018 has set the bar PRETTY high. 

A massive thank you to all of the brilliant publishers who have sent me books this year. You guys are amazing. I love reading your books and then shouting about them all over the internet. It makes me so happy. 

S x 

Christmas Cracker Tag

Hello there! It’s Friday again… it’s FINALLY ALMOST THE CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS. There’ll be a “first term wrap up” post coming… but today just a bit of fun. I’m taking on the Christmas Cracker Tag, which I first saw on my friend Cora’s blog. Check out her post here.

christmas cracker tag

Lets get on!

Pick A Book With A Wintry Cover

Image result for sky song abi elphinstone

Sky Song by Abi Elphinstone: you don’t get much more wintry than actual ice and the Northern Lights. This book is BRILLIANT too. Would recommend!

Pick A Book You’re Likely To Buy As A Present

Image result for truth pixie

The Truth Pixie by Matt Haig: there is something incredibly special about this book. I definitely think everyone needs to read this book.

Pick A Festive Themed Book

Image result for the night i met father christmas

The Night I Met Father Christmas by Ben Miller: I finished this last weekend and it is SO BRILLIANT. It’s like the most brilliant version of a Christmas story ever. I wish I’d read it before now, cause I’d love to share it with the kids I teach.

Pick A Book You Can Curl Up With By The Fireplace

Image result for a quiet kind of thunder

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard: for me sitting by the fireplace is dedicated to romance and loveliness. This book is one that’s stuck with me. I will need to find time to reread it. I just adore Steffi and Rhys.

Pick A Book You Want To Read Over The Festive Period

Image result for dry neal shusterman book

Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman: the absolute angels of Walker sent me a copy of this last week… in perfect time for my Christmas holidays!

Pick A Book That’s So Good It Gives You Chills

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A Darkness of Dragons by S.A.Patrick: I recently finished this and man, I just loved it! As a massive MG fan, it’s really great to come across a book that ticks so many boxes!

Pick A Book Going On Your Christmas Wishlist

Image result for six of crows collector's edition

Six of Crows Collector’s Edition by Leigh Bardugo: I’ve not actually told Santa this is on my list… so I might have to treat myself post Christmas!

Let me know your thoughts!

S x