Looking for a brilliant read for a teen in your life?

Here we are, day 3 of my gift guide. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them! It’s been a blast looking back at my year in books and thinking which ones I would recommend people buy and read AND SHOVE IN EACH OTHERS FACES *ahem*.

Today, on this here final day of recommending, I’m sorting through the MANY MANY YA books I’ve read this year and giving you 12 that you ABSOLUTELY need to buy for the YA fan in your life! (Just as the past few days, none of these books will REALLY come as a surprise!) Without further ado…

2018 ya recs

Scythe/Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven

State of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury (while we’re at it… The Sin Eater’s Daughter trilogy too, LBR)

Goodbye Perfect by Sara Barnard (and ANY of her other books too)

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Show Stopper/Show Stealer by Hayley Barker

White Rabbit, Red Wolf by Tom Pollock

The Secret Deep by Lindsay Galvin

Theatrical by Maggie Harcourt

Clean by Juno Dawson

Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber (and Wing Jones too)

Floored by the Floored Seven

TADAAAAH. You made it. This list could’ve been so much longer. GO AND BUY THEM ALL. READ THEM ALL. LOVE THEM ALL.

Do you agree with my recommendations?
Can you add any to my list?
Which of these books have you loved most?

Talk to me in the comments! Are you SHOCKED by my choices?

S x

What I’m Reading This Christmas

It’s Wednesday, you know what that means! It’s GUEST BLOG POST TIME! 

This time you get the joy of hearing from one of my favourite people in the world. Readers, this is Rachel. Rachel is the absolute mastermind behind #SundayYA (which is an incredible twitter chat which happens between 6 and 7 EVERY Sunday where we talk everything YA). Come along to #SundayYA, you won’t regret it! If you want to follow Rach, you’ll find her @_sectumsemprah on twitter! Go on, you won’t regret it!! She’s also one of the editors of the new YA quarterly online magazine @Shift_Zine… follow them too! That’s gonna be awesome!!

What I’m Reading This Christmas

It’s that time of year again. The festive lights are up, coffee chains have brought out their trademark festive cups… It must be Christmas! That can only mean one thing. It’s time to curl up on the sofa with a blanket and a mug of hot chocolate and immerse myself in some festive reads. Here’s what I’ll be reading this Christmas.

Related imageThe Twelve Days of Dash and Lily (Rachel Cohn and David Levithan)

The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily is set a year after the original Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares.
Lily has had a tough year and has lost her happy outlook and Christmas spirit, so it’s up to Dash and Langston (Lily’s brother) to rekindle the holiday magic. Told in alternating chapters,
The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily is sure to get readers ready for the festive season.

Image result for and a happy new year holly bourne… And A Happy New Year? (Holly Bourne)

Just when we thought we’d seen the end of our favourite Spinster Club, they’re back with a novella about a New Year’s party they will never forget. Secrets are revealed and
friendships tested but surely everything will be okay for Evie, Amber and Lottie in the end… Right? Full of tears and laughter,
… And A Happy New Year? is guaranteed to a magical end to a series readers have loved.

Image result for i'll be home for christmas bookI’ll Be Home For Christmas (UKYA Anthology)

I’ll Be Home For Christmas is the ultimate Christmas read for 2016. A star line up of UKYA authors, including Holly Bourne, Non Pratt and Juno Dawson to name but a few, have come together to write a collection of festive short stories on the theme of home. At least £1 from every copy sold is donated to Crisis, a homeless charity, and is a very special read.


Other great Christmas titles

  • This Winter (Solitaire Novella) (Alice Oseman)
  • Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares (Rachel Cohn and David Levithan)
  • Mistletoe and Murder (Robin Stevens)

My bookshelf

I’ve been meaning to do one of these posts for forever… but my bookshelves look NOTHING like everyone else’s. I have utter bookshelf envy of some of my awesome book blogger’s shelves. I mean just look at Grace Latter’s bookshelves. That is SOME shelf envy. I should organise mine by colour… but I know I am getting a few books for Christmas! So maybe after Christmas I’ll give you an ‘after’ post!

So anyway… here’s my shelves!

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As you can see I have quite a mix of books there! I’m one of these people who hoardes books… but I am quite brutal at times. I will keep copies of books which mean something to me or which I really enjoyed! I don’t give books away easily, some people do… not me. This isn’t all of my books either! There’s a whole other 2 piles behind those two front piles… but hey ho! I couldn’t get a shot of everything. Also, apologies for my camera skills. I am working on them!  

Some YA highlights for you among those shelves?

  • Melinda Salisbury – The Sin Eater’s Daughter, The Sleeping Prince (Dark, twisted, wonderful, majesticness. #queenmel)
  • Rainbow Rowell – Carry On (The queen. If you don’t have Eleanor and Park, please get yourself on that now).
  • Holly Bourne – …And A Happy New Year (on my TBR pile still, I bought it at YAShot and am just growing in excitement to read it!), What’s A Girl Gotta Do?, How Hard Can Love Be?
  • Alwyn Hamilton – Rebel of the Sands (Absolutely loved this, work of pure amazingness)
  • David Levithan – The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily (which is still on my TBR too, but I LOVE David Levithan so much. He is the master of multi person perspective books)
  • Non Pratt – Unboxed (I won this and it is incredible. I loved it)
  • Laure Eve – The Graces (YES. Magic. Thanks).
  • Louise Gornall – Under Rose Tainted Skies (Read this, go on, you won’t regret it!)

Some MG highlights I hear you ask for?

  • Abi Elphinstone – The Shadow Keeper, The Dream Snatcher is also there! It’s just hidden. (Amazing, incredible!)
  • Roald Dahl – Matilda (well, just because, obviously. Everyone should have this on their shelves… I actually own 5 copies!)
  • Matt Haig – A Boy Called Christmas, The Girl Who Saved Christmas is also there, but hidden. (These are on my TBR pile too, but I can’t wait to read them to the kids!)
  • David Walliams – Awful Auntie (I have the whole Walliams collection, but Awful Auntie is the only one of them on my shelf because I’ve loaned a lot of them out to kids a school!)
  • Justin Fisher – Ned’s Circus of Marvels (I had a skim read of this and it was magical… this is one I really can’t wait to sink my teeth into!)
  • James Nichol – The Apprentice Witch (I was lucky enough to meet James at UKYACX and I had to get this immediately!)

(There’s a whole chunk of amazing MG books you can’t see here because they’re hidden but in my UKYACX post you can see all the amazing books that I bought there!)

Other highlightswhat DO you call fiction for “adults”? Just fiction? Someone tell me!

  • Mitch Albom – The Five People You Meet In Heaven, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, For One More Day, The Time Keeper, Tuesdays with Morrie is there too (Mitch Albom is one author who ALWAYS makes me cry. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF HIS BOOKS!)
  • Matt Haig – Reasons to Stay Alive (I haven’t read this yet but I have heard INCREDIBLE things about it! Definitely on my TBR!)
  • M.R.Carey – The Girl With All The Gifts, Fellside – currently in the hands of a trusted friend! (Incredible author, loved both of these books! Go and buy them!)

Show me your amazing shelves! It might give me the kick I need to colour coordinate, or coordinate some how my shelves!! Are you a book give away-er? Or are you a keeper like me?

S x

Winter books

Winter is the perfect time to snuggle in to bed, or by the fire and just read because you can. Who wants to go out and bother with the cold, battle with the wind or just get drenched? Not me. Winter is not a happy time for me. It makes me sad sad sad. Staying inside in the warmth and reading though makes me content. Content as anything. 

I thought I would share some perfect winter/Christmas books for you! I mean who doesn’t need their TBR to be expanded by a book or 2?

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The Snow Child – Eowyn Ivey 
“Alaska, the 1920s. Jack and Mabel have staked everything on a fresh start in a remote homestead, but the wilderness is a stark place, and Mabel is haunted by the baby she lost many years before. When a little girl appears mysteriously on their land, each is filled with wonder, but also foreboding: is she what she seems, and can they find room in their hearts for her?”

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The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily – Rachel Cohn/David Levithan

“Dash and Lily have been dating for nearly a year, but when Lily’s beloved grandfather falls ill, the repercussions take their toll on everyone. Even though they are still together, somehow the magic has gone out of their relationship and it’s clear that Lily has fallen out of love with life.
Action must be taken! Dash teams up with Lily’s brother and a host of their friends, who have just twelve days to get Lily’s groove back in time for Christmas.”

The Book Thief – Markuz Zusak
“HERE IS A SMALL FACT – YOU ARE GOING TO DIE
1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier.
Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall.
SOME IMPORTANT INFORMATION – THIS NOVEL IS NARRATED BY DEATH
It’s a small story, about:
a girl
an accordionist
some fanatical Germans
a Jewish fist fighter
and quite a lot of thievery.
ANOTHER THING YOU SHOULD KNOW – DEATH WILL VISIT THE BOOK THIEF THREE TIMES”

Let It Snow – John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle
“Three wonderful holiday romances by three of America’s bestselling authors, including John Green – author of the multi-million bestseller The Fault in Our Stars.
An ill-timed storm on Christmas Eve buries the residents of Gracetown under multiple feet of snow and causes quite a bit of chaos. One brave soul ventures out into the storm from her stranded train and sets off a chain of events that will change quite a few lives. Over the next three days one girl takes a risky shortcut with an adorable stranger, three friends set out to win a race to the Waffle House (and the hash brown spoils), and the fate of a teacup pig falls into the hands of a lovesick barista.

A trio of today’s bestselling authors – John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle – brings all the magic of holidays to life in three hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and kisses that will steal your breath away.”

 

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – C.S.Lewis
“Four adventurous siblings―Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie― step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice.”

 


Stick Man – Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
“Stick Man lives in the family tree With his Stick Lady Love and their stick children three.” But it’s dangerous being a Stick Man. A dog wants to play with him, a swan builds her nest with him. He even ends up on a fire! Will he ever get back to the family tree?”

 

 

The Jolly Christmas Postman – Janet and Allan Ahlberg
“It’s Christmas Eve and the JOLLY POSTMAN is delivering greetings to various fairy-tale characters – there’s a card for Baby Bear, a game appropriately called ‘Beware’ for Red Riding Hood from Mr Wolf, a get-well jigsaw for hospitalised Humpty Dumpty and three more surprise envelopes containing letters, cards, etc. Everyone’s favourite postman keeps on peddling his bicycle up hill and down dale . . . and into everybody’s hearts.”

There you go! A little something for everyone! I love a festive winter read!

S x

BOOKMAS: Sarah Govett

During my amazing October trip to London for YAShot 2016 I was lucky enough to get talking to the amazing author Sarah Govett! We made arrangements to do something together for my blog and here we are and it’s featuring in my lovely blogmas!! 

I was also lucky enough that Sarah sent me a copy of both of her books to read through and I have to say I properly devoured them

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The Territory trilogy… there are 2 books released at the minute but the third one is on its way! 

The Territory
“In the not-to-distant future earth’s surface has been drastically reduced, as the rising sea levels encroach on the land. The space and resources that remain have to be earned, and in The Territory this means all children must sit the TAA exams. Those who pass can stay and those who fail must make it alone in the inhospitable, disease infested Wetlands. Noa and her friends, Daisy and Jack, are ‘Norms’, meaning they have to study the old-fashioned way, while the rich children, or ‘Childes’, have a node on their neck that allows them to simply download all the information they need. With the exams looming Noa meets Raf, the boy with one green eye and one blue. Despite being a Childe he is not haughty or cruel, and Noa finds herself falling for him at the worst possible time.”

The Territory 2: Escape
“The second book in this acclaimed environmental dystopia series, Escape picks up where The Territory, left off. It follows teens Noa and Raf as they infiltrate the Wetlands – a kind of swampy penal colony, rife with disease and crime – to rescue their friend Jack, who has been sent there for failing the exams that all teens must take at age 15. Noa’s mad about Raf, but there’s also a reason she’s so desperate to save Jack, too.”

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These books came at a time for me when I stopped reading dystopian novels but in reading them I remember what it is I love so much about dystopian YA novels – they are dark, brutal, but grippingly gorgeous. They are the kind of books you DON’T want to put down because you want to know what is coming next! Another thing I really loved about these books is that they were very true to the real life of being a teenager… exams, stress, decisions and pressure. The characters in these books have some very big decisions, some very big tests and some intense pressure on their young shoulders. I may be an adult but it is incredible to look back and think ‘yep, I’ve been there‘!

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Sarah’s writing style is right up my street. These two books are so beautifully written that you don’t realise you’re reading and reading and reading. It just makes sense. The flow is beautiful, the phrasing works so well… it just worked. Sometimes I find (especially with dystopian novels) that you can get lost in the world and it be a dark and brutal world so that the story works, but the way these books were written the world is very real and very much true – you don’t need to imagine it being real because it is written so well that it IS real. 

The characters were really honest and real too. For me what makes a good book a great book is the characters. If you either love or hate them, stories and the people in the stories should make you FEEL because people in your real life make you feel. They all felt like they could be me, or that they could be my friends. You feel their pains, their stresses whilst going through these horrible test to decide if they’re going to stay alive or be killed – I mean C’MON who should have to sit a test like this?! 

I don’t want to give too much away in my review, I want everyone to discover the books for themselves. Enjoy the story for themselves, fall for the characters and feel their pain for themselves. I think you’ll all love this!! 

Thank you so much to Sarah for sending me these books to read and review! They were an absolute delight! If you want to follow Sarah I’ll leave her links below:

Keep your eyes peeled on my blog over the next few days for an amazing Q&A that Sarah agreed to do with me! Thanks so much to the lovely Sarah for agreeing to this!! 

S xx

Christmas magic!

It’s Saturday! You know what that means! It’s guest blog time!

This time, our guest blog comes from the wonderful Darran. I have followed Darran on Twitter for a while now and I recently got to meet him at YAShot and he’s lovely. He’s northern, he likes books and he’s funny – what more would I want from a friend?! If you want to follow Darran, you’ll find him @ShinraAlpha on Twitter, and he’s also one of the editors of the new YA quarterly online magazine @Shift_Zine… follow them too! That’s gonna be awesome!!

I love Christmas.

I just do. For real. I’m not religious in the slightest, but there’s something just… magical about Christmas. It’s woven into human DNA, I think. A need to gather close to friends and family just as the world seems coldest and darkest is innate in us. Or it is in me, at least. It’s a reminder that even though everything seems bleak, the world will keep on turning… And after 2016 I think we might need that more than ever.

For years I worked as a bookseller for Waterstones, and Christmas is a lot different in the retail sphere. If you’re lucky, it’s two days off. If you’re not, it’s just the one (and that ain’t as well as your two usual ones). Never the less, I loved Christmas bookselling. It was manic, and chaotic and I was forever handing books out left right and centre like a literary octopus, each of my tentacles clasped around a favourite. I’d get home and be so tired I was sure my bones were starting to splinter, but I didn’t care. It was the very purest bookselling could ever be – just you, a customer, and the right book.

     That said, I cannot wait until I have an entire week off this year. A WEEK. I plan on drinking and reading (On my pile are Mistletoe & Murder by Robin Stevens, The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett, and His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman) and having a proper Christmas holiday. I’ll even be back in the North East so it might EVEN SNOW.

So I do love Christmas. I know it’s cool to hate it. Maybe it is too commercialised. I don’t know. Maybe the Christians ripped off on old Pagan holiday. It’s more than likely. But in the words of Community’s Abed – I just like liking things. This year has been awful and terrifying and filled with a constant stream of bile and hate. I’d like to say that 2017 will be better, but some of this year’s stuff has ripples that will last for decades, I fear. So while it’s dark and cold and bleak, try to be the best human you can be. Be kinder. Love harder. Smile more. Save your energy for what’s ahead, be close to the people who mean the most to you, and celebrate. There’s so much to be done, but there always will be, so take time to appreciate the good things that you’ve got.

Reading for Christmas?

For me, books are the PERFECT Christmas present! I always have books on MY Christmas list. Last year my Christmas list was primarily books. Let’s have a think about this.

Why are books the perfect present?

  1. They’re personal – they show you know the person well enough to pick something you know they’ll like.
  2. You don’t need to plug them in/charge them up. They work perfectly well on their own.
  3. You can read them anywhere.
  4. “Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside them. And it’s much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world.” – Neil Gaiman
  5. You can share your favourite book with someone who’s not read it before.
  6. You can open people up to worlds they have never visited before!
  7. Children love books. You’re giving them a gift of not just a physical book, but a love of reading. 
  8. They’re easy to wrap! They’re mostly rectangular!
  9. Going into bookshops is a wonderful thing. They’re places filled with many worlds, so you’re likely to pick something up for yourself too!
  10. Books are FAR LESS expensive than games, yet they can provide SO MUCH MORE.

Ever since the Twiglets (those gorgeous god daughters of mine) were born I’ve bought them books for birthdays/Christmases/random Saturday presents/Easter. I can’t think of a gift I would rather give them. Now looking at them they’re two of the most adorable bookworms I know. This year for Christmas they are again getting books for Christmas. You can never be too old or too young for books for Christmas. 

They’re also very lucky in that this year they’ve got a book advent calendar! That’s right, every day from December 1st to December 25th they’re getting a new book. I was lucky enough to get some help for making this book advent calendar happen. I went out and bought some books but was sent some books too! I think it’s an amazing idea. I can take no credit for it, but I was more than happy to help make it happen. 

Children need books. Adults need books. Books can be transformative. 

If you’re ever after somewhere inexpensive to buy books try The Works, The Book PeopleAmazon (they quite often have deals on if you’re willing to look!). There are so many websites out there. 

Books are my favourite gift to give and my favourite to receive. 

Go on, try it. Give someone you love a book this Christmas. They’ll love it. Readers and non-readers alike!

S x

BOOKMAS: 12 Days of Christmas

Picture the scene… sitting by an open fire, drinking hot chocolate, some soothing music playing in the background and a festive favourite in your hand… how idyllic. Imagine something like this… (thanks Pinterest!)

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I can’t provide you with this scene… but I can provide you with a book to read as you IMAGINE that is where you’re sat, drinking your hot chocolate (which may have a tiny sip of peppermint vodka in!), listening to Christmas carols or something equally soothing… Thank you to my book fairy Sarah for sending it to me! It was VERY GRATEFULLY received.

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Beautifully illustrated, eye catching and a new take on tradition. A book that young, old and everyone in the middle will love. 

‘On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . .’

The V&A’s Twelve Days of Christmas is a stunning book filled with hand-picked patterns from the V&A’s collections. Featuring art work by William Morris and Charles Voysey, this is the perfect Christmas gift for any fan of art and design.”

Once again Penguin have produced a stunningly gorgeous book. Retelling the traditional rhyme of the 12 Days of Christmas with some absolutely gorgeous illustrations and patterns throughout the book. 

This book came at a perfect time for us at school as our school play this year is based on The 12 Days of Christmas, so I am going to take it in to school and make sure they all get the chance to read it before they do their performance. 

Thank you Sarah at Penguin books for this perfect start to the festive season!

Now where is my cosy fireplace, blanket and hot chocolate?!

S x