May in books

Hi friends!

Sorry I’ve been a bit sporadic posting the past few weeks… it’s been half term and to be honest I’ve just beenb enjoying being off. Normal service will resume from now: I promise!

Today I’m here to wrap up my May reading! 

In May, I:

Spent some time on half term enjoying books.
Loved the sunshine!
Had a few wobbles, but kept on my feet.
Finally started getting excited for YALC.
Started running.
Spent time on the beach with my class.
Started a mystery book in the classroom and my kids are LOVING it. 
Read 10 books.

So let’s get started!

Let’s start with YA because that’s the smaller of the two!

In May, I read 4 YA books!

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Some absolute bangers this month. Watch of for reviews of all of them in the coming weeks. Man, I do love a good mix of books!

The Deathless Girls – Kiran Milwood Hargrave
Shadowscent – P.M.Freestone
Alex in Wonderland – Simon James Green
The Year I Didn’t Eat – Samuel Pollen

Now to the MG books!

2019 may mg

This collection of kids books sees some of my favourite kinds of books. I can’t wait to share my reviews of these in the coming months! Massive massive shout outs for Jemima Small, Can You See Me and And Then I Turned Into A Mermaid: brilliant female voices and ALL so different.

Can You See Me – Libby Scott and Rebecca Westcott
The Good Thieves – Katherine Rundell
Jemima Small Versus the Universe – Tamsin Winter
And Then I Turned Into A Mermaid – Laura Kirkpatrick
Not My Fault – Cath Howe
The Unexpected Find – Toby Ibbotson

And there we have it… all the books I read in May!

HOW AM I DOING FOR MY BOOK CHALLENGES?

GOODREADS CHALLENGE: 65/52
#52BOOKS CHALLENGE (JUST KIDS BOOKS): 35/52

Thanks for stopping by! Talk to me!

How did you do with your reading in May? 
What were your stand out books from last month?
Do you agree with any of my faves from May?

What would you recommend me from your 2019 reading list?

See you soon!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Brave Molly

Brave Molly: a gorgeous wordless picture book dealing with facing your fears

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“What do you do when no one can see your monsters but you? At first, Molly runs from them. But they follow her down the sidewalk, getting in the way when she tries to make a new friend, popping up unexpectedly out of shadows, and multiplying. Until finally…Molly faces her fears.”

As a teacher who is working in a world where Mental Health is rightfully a conversation that is had more openly than ever before, I am always after stories that I can use as conversation openers. Whether my children relate exactly or not, books are portals to conversations and feelings that can be so so essential to talk about. Brave Molly is yet another book in my library that I think helps to open up that conversation so beautifully. 

When I first opened Brave Molly, I was surprised by the lack of words (we all know I love a wordless picture book) but it is that exact lack of words that makes this book so powerful and so brilliant. When we’re struggling with whatever is coming our way, it’s usually our words that go first. Our emotions stay, our lives have to go on, but we struggle to talk or to give words to the things that is going on. Being a wordless picture book gives this such power and useability (is that even a word?). This book could be used with children from a young age to secondary aged children. 

The story tells of Molly who is at her happiest when she’s indoors: she’s creative, artistic and loves to read. However, as we all know, you can’t spend all of your time inside: the outside world beckons lovingly (but terrifyingly for some people). She’s afraid. Her fear monsters follow her whenever she leaves and goes into the world. Her fear monsters loom in the background like shadows: we can never really get away from our fears, they’re always there… we just have to learn to live with them. Molly’s monsters manage to ruin many a situation she is put in. 

One of my favourite images in the book is when Molly shows that she is in fact a very brave little girl. We ALL fear things. We all struggle with things. Squaring up to them and saying, “You have no power over me” is TERRIFYING, but with the help of our friends and our own selves, we can do it. 

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I really love this. It ticks so many boxes for me. With beautiful illustrations, a powerful message and a good story, this book is one that I can’t wait to use with the children I work with. It’s going to end up being one I use over and over. (If you’re after something along the same vein, Ruby’s Worry is similar, but not entirely the same).

A massive thank you to the publisher, Abrams and Chronicle for sending me this book. You guys are awesome!

S x

 

BLOG TOUR: Boot

Boot: a fun and friendly story all about finding yourself!

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“When toy robot, Boot, wakes up at a scrapyard, it has no idea how it got there and why it isn’t with its owner, Beth. Boot is scared but tries to be brave, which is hard when its screen keeps showing a wobbly, worried face. Luckily Boot meets Noke and Red – other ‘advanced’ robots who have learned to survive in secret. With its new friends by its side, Boot is determined to find Beth and the gang set off on a dangerous adventure.”

Very occasionally a book comes along that makes you just SMILE and feel buoyed up by things in life. This book is 100% one of those books. 

Boot tells the story of a robot, who lives in a world where his kind have been replaced by newer, fancier and more up to date models. Boot wakes up in a scrapyard and is very confused. It only has two and a half glitchy memories which don’t really help it to find out where it is, who it is or where it should be. These memories tell it that it was once loved, which means something important to humans. Through these memories, you see that it has once lived a happy life with its human, Beth. It knows instantly that it needs to get back to Beth, but getting out of the scrapyard and across the city with only a glitchy memory and no help is harder than it seems. 

Boot manages to find friends who will help him along the world. Early on in his adventure, Boot realised that it is different. Boot feels emotions and thinks differently to other robots – other robots who just function and don’t think. This makes Boot feel alone, until it meets other robots, and other friends, who are just like Boot is.  

I really loved this story. It was one of those stories that made me smile. It reminded me of the power of friendship, adventure and not giving in, even when things get tough. Boot goes through the story from a very scared and lonely robot, to someone who finds his friends, his family and his purpose: you’ve got to be brave and a special robotto find these things. You can’t beat a good story that will make you laugh, make you feel good about the world and make you appreciate your friends! 

As well as having a gorgeous story, this book has some stellar illustrations. They are SO SO LUSH. I’m a BIG fan of an illustrated book, so Boot ticks off so many boxes for me! 

This book would sit beautifully from Year 2/3 up. It’s a slightly longer chapter book, but it’s such fun.

My Goodreads review reads:

This is fun, friendship and finding yourself. I loved Boot and his bunch of merry robot friends! Imagine waking up one day with only 3 memories and a sense that you need to get home! Boot needs to find his way back to Beth and to himself. I chuckled a lot at this!

Boot was quickly picked up by a few of the children in school and they ADORED it:

“This is a really fun story. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have only a few memories, but Boot shows that you can do anything you put your mind to”

“Stories about robots are funny because they’re not real humans, but Boot is like a human. I’d love to be his friend”

“I loved this story because it was like seeing the future through the eyes of someone really fun and really brave. I would love to be brave like Boot”

Massive massive thank you to the publishers, Hachette Children’s, for sending me a review copy and inviting me onto the blog tour! This book is Boot-iful! Check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour! 

Boot Blog Tour2

S x 

Book Box Club: Purely Books Subscription

Hello! 

How are we all?

Today I’m here to talk about EXCITING book post. We all love book post, don’t we? What if you could treat yourself to book post every month? WELL YOU CAN with Book Box Club!

What is Book Box Club?

Book Box Club is a subscription box and secret society for the bookish folk. Book Box Club have two different subscription options:

Book Box Club Subscription – each month, you will receive a gift-wrapped, brand new, YA book, an invitation to their online book club and a selection of themed goodies to match the book you’ve been sent.

Purely Books Subscription – each month, you’ll receive a featured read and an invitation to their online book group. 

All postage to the UK is free, but Book Box Club do send parcels all around the world (postage costs apply).

Purely Books Subscription

The Purely Books Subscription is perfect for the bookish reader like me: I love books, but I don’t collect a lot of bookish goodies. If you’re a bit like me, then the Purely Book subscription is perfect for you! Regardless of the subscription you choose, you get the same book, so when it comes to the online chat, everyone can share in the bookish chat! 

If you’d like to sign up for a subscription, you can get to Book Box Club’s website HERE and use the code BLOGARMY5 to get a discount on your first Purely Books or Book Box Club subscription. (5% off a three month Purely Books Subscription or month-to-month Book Box Club Subscription).

My Experience

Bold and Brave was the theme for April: I received an email on to say my book was on its way and it arrived 2 days later! What’s that for service! Since it was only a book, it fit through the letterbox (so no hassling your neighbours, no waiting for it and no having to collect it from the post office: perfection!).

My book was wrapped in silver paper and tied with very cute blue and white string. It also came with an envelope with my name on – now that is the kind of personal touch I love! Inside the envelope was an invite to the Clubhouse (which is the book club) on with the details of Bold & Brave book group. In the book group, you get the chance to talk to the author, ask any questions you have and make new friends. New BOOKISH friends… the best kind of friends in my humble opinion!

The book

I was chuffed when I realised what the book was! I have heard so much about this book. I haven’t read anything by Zoe Marriott and this makes me so happy. I know there’s been a lot of controversy around this book, but it’s one of those that I’d like to read. That cover is GORGEOUS too… I mean who wouldn’t want to pick this up? It has REAL shelf appeal! 

You can’t beat a good signed book plate too! *swoon* and look at that print (this is in fact the back of the information about the Clubhouse, dual purpose win!)

I love the idea of a Purely Book subscription. For a reader like me who just wants the books and not the extras that go with it, it’s PROPER perfect. I loved the personalised invite and the themed invite too! I am extremely happy with my experience so far! Keep your eyes peeled for my thoughts on the book club! 

Thank you so much to Libby and Kate for inviting me to be in the Blogger Army! Don’t forget you my discount code! 

Have you subscribed to any book boxes?
Have you read this book?
What kind of books would you love to receive?

Speak soon!

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Ada Twist

Ada Twist: a funny story which is jam packed with Science and fun!

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“Ada Twist is full of questions. A scientist to her very core, Ada asks why again and again. One question always leads to another until she’s off on a journey of discovery! When Rosie Revere’s Uncle Ned gets a little carried away wearing his famous helium pants, it’s up to Ada and friends to chase him down. As Uncle Ned floats farther and farther away, Ada starts asking lots of questions: How high can a balloon float? Is it possible for Uncle Ned to float into outer space? And what’s the best plan for getting him down?”

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Ada is one of those lovely characters to read! She’s constantly questioning things. Why does her mam’s coffee smell stronger than her dad’s? Why do her brothers shoes stink? What kind of birds can she see in her back yard? How can she solve these problems? How can she do things that will help people? I love this about Ada. Kids SHOULD be inquisitive creatures: they SHOULD want to know more. We should encourage this with our children.

It’s a good job she asks so many questions because she ends up seeing a man in strange pants floating in her back yard… and she has to come up with a solution! With the help of her friends, they go on an adventure filled with Science and problem solving to get Uncle Ned down! 

Ada uses what she knows about everything to get Uncle Ned down. She’s a very clever little bean and she knows things about more Science than I do! Gas, buoyancy, temperature… all sorts! She uses all of this knowledge to get the uncle down, and save him from peril! Her friends try to help her, but ultimately, it’s Ada’s Science knowledge that ends up saving the day! I love that she never gives up either – she keeps trying, even when her plans don’t go smoothly. 

I really love these books. They are fun with short chapters and they are brilliantly illustrated. I love that these characters are encouraging STEM! These books are perfect for children who are just starting to read longer chapter books… AND perfect for those with scientific, or inquisitive, minds. I learned some things reading this, so children are definitely going to!

A massive massive shout out to David Roberts for his illustrations. They make this book even more incredible in my eyes! I am DIGGING this purple and brown theme in the book. Look how stylish Ada’s mam is man – I wish I was that stylish. 

I love this series so much and I can’t wait to see what’s coming next. These books go from strength to strength and you can bet that they’re going to keep going! If you don’t have this book, or the picture books, I would STRONGLY encourage you to! 

A massive thank you to the publishers, Abrams and Chronicle, for sending me a copy for review! I just adore these books and I know they have a place in every house, library and classroom!

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Bethany Rutter

No Big Deal: a book that means a very big deal!

21eba24b-9c6a-4906-86d0-bf42bfc98cae(gorgeous proof copy sent to me from the publishers… see final cover further down)

“Meet Emily Daly, a stylish, cute, intelligent and hilarious seventeen-year-old about to start her last year at school. Emily is also fat. She likes herself and her body. When she meets Joe at a house party, he instantly becomes The Crush of Her Life. Everything changes. At first he seems perfect. But as they spend more time together, doubts start to creep in.

With her mum trying new fad diets every week, and increasing pressure to change, Emily faces a constant battle to stay strong, be her true self and not change for anyone.”

No Big Deal tells the story of Emily (gorgeous, brilliant, wonderful), a teenager who is going through it all. She’s a girl who the world judges based on one thing: her weight. Emily doesn’t see her weight as a problem, but the rest of the world does. The rest of the world expects her to change because of who she is. Emily has this brilliantly unfaltering confidence in herself, but as you go through the book, as friendships fall apart, as boys come into the picture, as society wears her down, this unrelenting confidence risks changing forever.

I loved this book. Like hands down loved it.

Emily is an absolutely astounding MC. She’s stylish, she’s hilarious. Her perspective is absolutely mint. I laughed A LOT at some of the things she gets into because I’ve been there. Getting stuck in a dress in Topshop? God, I know that feeling so much. Doubted your worthiness because of your weight? Yep. Been there. I loved that she bossed life and was stylish and cool and brilliant. Her weight wasn’t the thing that defined her. She showed that it doesn’t need to. She had interests. She was a ROUNDED character. 

For so long, the fat character was the funny friend, or the one who never got the boy, but in this book, that’s not the case. This book shows that it doesn’t matter what size you are, you matter and that your story isn’t dependent on your weight. Your story is important: even if society doesn’t think so.

I’ve struggled to write this review, not because I didn’t love this book (because trust me, I loved this book an awful lot), but because every time I come to write this review it turns into something about my life… and y’all don’t need that.

This book is brilliant. It’s funny, it made me cry, it made me think, it made me want to shout: so many emotions. It’s interesting. It has a refreshing voice. It’s written in a brilliantly readable way. I’d love to think that Bethany Rutter will be around for MANY MANY BOOKS introducing us to a whole range of characters who are as badass, brilliant and body positive as Emily. This book, its character, its story is going to hit a chord with so many people. Whether you’re the fat friend or not, it’s going to matter. It’s so much more than a story about a fat girl: it’s a story about the importance of loving yourself and how much of a BLOODY HARDSHIP that can be at times. 

I think this book hit a note with me because I WAS Emily. I am Emily now. I’m on that journey of self acceptance, of loving myself for whoever and whatever I am that day. I’ve been there. I’ve doubted every single thing in my life because of the status of my weight. It’s just a thing.

PLUS. Look at this cover man. I proper love it. I can’t wait to have a finished copy in my midst. It’s going to have pride of place on my “favourites shelf”.

No Big Deal

My Goodreads review:

If I could swear, I would. This book is exceptional. I am/was Emily and there’s nothing more important that seeing yourself in a book. I hope every young girl gets a chance to read it. Loving yourself is SO IMPORTANT. This book made me laugh, cry and want to shout. Just bloody marvellous.

And because I loved it so much, I made a mood board. To me, this moodboard represents so much of what the book talks about. Style, fierce, brilliant women, loving yourself, owning life.

NBD mood board

Thank you so so much to Bethany and the brilliant humans of Macmillan Books/MyKindaBook for getting me a proof copy. I GENUINELY think this book is going to hit a chord with so many people.

Have you read No Big Deal?
Can you name another book that has a fully-realised fat MC?
Who is your favourite body positive person?

Talk to me! 

S x 

April in books

Hello!

As if April is over already… this Summer is very quickly approaching and it’s INSANE! Anyway, you’re here because you’re nebby and wanna know what I read in April? I know… me too! I LOVE seeing what other people have been reading! April was quite a brilliant reading month for me tbh! Let’s get on with it!

In April, I:

Spent many morning having breakfast in Quilliams
Got to spend time with some of my favourite humans in the world
Had a few ups and downs
Loved MG books
Had a lot of fun in the sunshine
Ate satsumas again for the first time this year (I love satsumas ok?)
Spent a lot of time laughing
Found my working out mojo again (not massively so… but at least it’s back!)
Spent a lot of time crying at books
Read 20 books (I KNOW RIGHT!)

TWENTY BOOKS THO? How bloody bonkers.

I had better start with MG books, because that takes up the majority of my reading over the month!

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JUST LOOK AT THAT COLLECTION OF KIDS BOOKS!

I am very lucky that I’ve been sent some proofs, sent some finished copies and bought some myself. Most of these have made their way into my classroom now and are being devoured by my children. I enjoyed all of these books… you really couldn’t go wrong reading any of them. There’s something for everyone here: magic, history, science, folk tales, detectives, mystery, funny and adventure. Seriously: get on these books!

Some stand out books from this month:
The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson (out in September);
The Middler by Kirsty Applebaum;
Malamander by Thomas Taylor;
A Pocketful of Stars by Aisha Bushby (out in August)
High Rise Mystery by Sharna Jackson. 

Not only did I manage to read a FAIR FEW MG books, but I also read a canny few YA books too! I know… look at me! (Thank half term for all of this reading!)

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I feel very very blessed to be able to read some of these books. Again, I had bought some, were sent some by publishers and some friends shared others. Just like my MG books, there’s something for everyone in this pile.
Love pirates? Get on Viper.
Want a brilliant feminist tale with a massive dollop of history? Pick up The Burning.
Looking for something a bit more mystery? The Truth About Keeping Secrets is your book.
Want something to look forward to later in the year? The Places I’ve Cried in Public is your gal. 

My stand out YA books this month:
No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter (not out til August);
Viper by Bex Hogan;
The Fandom Rising by Anna Day (book 2 in The Fandom: out tomorrow!)

GUYS. SOMETHING AMAZING HAPPENED IN APRIL.
I read an ADULTS book. I know. I don’t know who I think I am. You can blame Melinda Salisbury for this. She never shuts up about it, so I KNEW I needed to read it. 

Circe

Of course I read Circe. Of course. Of course I loved it. 

Who knows… it might become a thing in my life. But don’t worry, I won’t give up reading MG and YA books. They are  very much my jam.

How am I doing for my book challenges?

Goodreads challenge: 54/52
#52books challenge (just kids books): 24/52

In reality those numbers are higher cause I don’t track non-fiction and picture books… but I’m going to post a picture book something or other in the coming weeks – so keep your eyes peeled for that!

How did you do with your reading in April? 
What were your stand out books from last month?
Do you agree with any of my faves from April?

What would you recommend me from your 2019 reading list?

Let me know! Lets talk books! 

S x 

 

The Words That Fly Between Us blog tour

Hello comrades! 

How are we all on this wonderful Tuesday morning? 

I have something very exciting to share with you all. I am here today to share an extract from the very brilliant ‘The Words That Fly Between Us‘ by Sarah Carroll. 

The Words That Fly Between Us

“Lucy’s father is a successful lawyer making a killing on the property market. She and her mother want for nothing. Nothing, that is, that can be bought. But money cannot buy Lucy the words she needs. The words to stand up to her bully of a father. The words to inspire her mother to do something about the family life that is suffocating them both. The words to become the person she wants to be.

Then Lucy finds something else: An escape route… 
Soon she discovers that every building on her row is connected, through the attic, to the next. As she explores the inner lives of those who live on her street, Lucy realises that she is not the only one to suffer in silence. She also sees ways she can help some, and ways to punish those that deserve it. But as the mighty fall, Lucy is forced to realise that while she can affect the lives of others from the safety of the attic, she will need to climb down to face her own fears.”

Words can be sticky. They nudge their way into the grooves of the tiles, and get wedged in tiny cracks in the plaster, and seep into the grain of the floorboards. And they stay there. If you look closely, you can see them. Our house is filling up with them. People don’t realize, though. They think you can just fling them around.

Chapter 1
I hate when Mum and Dad fight. Dad says they don’t, they have heated debates. Your mother gets heated while I debate. I’m with my sketch pad and pencil in the nook by the window in the living room. I’m not drawing anything in particular, really. 
‘Did I tell you, “Don’t get white wine”?’ Dad says from behind the double doors into the kitchen. Mum must have made a mistake with the order for his party tonight. 
‘Yes. You said you only wanted red—’

The higher Mum’s voice goes the flatter Dad’s stays. ‘Did I say, don’t get white.’ He’s doing that thing where he rolls the words around in his mouth before he spits each one out, just to be sure that there can be no mistake.
‘Here, look . . .’ She’s probably pointing to the piece of paper she’s carried around all week. It’s been opened and folded so many times it’s beginning to tear along the
creases. She’s right, there was no white wine on the list. ‘You wrote down—’
‘I’m aware I didn’t specify that you should buy white wine. I didn’t specify that we needed toilet paper either. Should I check the toilets?’
I know Mum’s searching Dad’s face right now, looking for just the right words. No more. No less. ‘Should I go out now . . . ?’
‘Oh, forget it, Alice.’
An intimate get-together, Dad had said. Starting around seven-thirty. Mr Reynolds will be dropping in. Mr Reynolds, who practically owns the bank. No fuss. Just enough hors d’oeuvres to keep the shareholders from dropping dead with hunger, so to speak. Four trays from Donnybrook Fair should do the trick. And champagne, of course. We’ll take one . . . No, wait, better make it two truck loads of the usual.

I realize I’m sketching Dad as he’ll look in a few hours, big smile, waving a fancy bottle around. We’re a champagne house, ha, ha. What’s that, you’re not a champagne drinker? Not to worry. Paula here will pop open a delicious little red. Oh, pardon me, it’s white wine you’re after… but… but… there is no white… Catastrophe. The whole night ruined. Dad’s head explodes. I don’t draw that.
‘You’ve had all week, Alice. I’ve so much on my plate, and I asked you to do one thing…’
The kitchen double doors open and I sit on my sketch pad so Dad doesn’t see. Wasting time drawing is bad enough. But I definitely don’t want to be caught drawing him. He’s already in his suit and a bright pink tie. His fun tie. He folds one door back so it’s flat against the wall. He sighs and shakes his head. Mum is standing behind him. She’s wearing her red silk dress. She’s had her hair curled and has her diamond earrings on too. After a while, she looks up. ‘Actually, I think there’s
a box of leftover white in the cellar.’ Dad acts like he hasn’t heard her, so she says, ‘I’ll go check.’

When she’s gone, Dad disappears through the kitchen too and I relax back against the wall. It’s got worse since he won that contract for The Old Mill last Christmas. It’s like underneath, things started turning bad, but from the outside you can’t see. Like an apple getting eaten up by a tiny worm. If you look closely you can see the
hole, but that’s all.

Take yesterday, for example, when Dad couldn’t find his golf shoes. Mum swore she left them on the washing machine, and she ran around looking for them while Dad
stood in the kitchen shaking his head and complaining that she was making him late for golf with potential investors. In the end, Dad found them in the conservatory. He
grabbed them and left without saying anything else because he was in too much of a hurry.

When he was gone, Mum went into the conservatory and stared at the spot where he had found them. She said, I was sure I left them on the washing machine around seventy times. Thing is, so was I. Because I saw her leave them there. I know it was only small, but things like that happen all the time since Dad moved into the big leagues. And the longer the development of The Old Mill is delayed, the more
stressed Dad gets.

It’s usually Mum that he gets annoyed with, but sometimes it’s me. And even when everything seems fine, you’re just waiting for that moment when the air sours. That’s why I hide my sketch pad. So he doesn’t give me that look – the same one he gets when he stands in dog dirt. Like I’m a disappointment. Or worse.

The side door to the front hall opens. Our cleaner, Paula, steps into the doorway and holds a champagne glass up to the light. She rubs at a smudge that’s not really there. She probably polished the wine bottles too. A great little cleaner, Dad calls her. Mum calls her a Duracell battery. Paula says, with her kids in school, she’s ready to do
something different. So she’s studying at night. But not tonight.
‘Have you eaten?’ she asks me.
‘Yup,’ I say.
She looks over the top of the glass at me. ‘Washed?’
‘Scrubbed,’ I say.
‘Good woman.’
She leans in a bit so she can see through the double doors.
‘What was that about?’ she whispers.
‘Mum didn’t buy white wine,’ I say.
Paula lifts an eyebrow. ‘He didn’t ask for white.’
‘I know,’ I say.
Now she lifts the other eyebrow. ‘And there’s loads
downstairs.’
‘I know,’ I say.

Mum comes back into the kitchen, carrying a box, walking like a robot because she’s trying not to trip in her high heels. ‘Found some!’ she calls and she tries to put the
box down carefully. But when she looks up, she sees Dad’s gone, and her words, and the box, drop with a thump onto the marble countertop. After a second, she claps her hands together and looks down at her dress to make sure it’s not smudged. I hop up to help but Paula says, ‘Stay where you are, honey. It’s covered in dust, you’ll ruin your clothes.’ She goes into the kitchen where Mum is saying, ‘Knew we had some.’
Dad comes in the other door behind them. He pulls a bottle out and turns it over to read the label. He sighs like his best friend, Oly, just died. ‘Best we can do, I suppose.’
Paula takes the bottle from his hand and whisks the box out of Dad’s way.

Dad comes back into the sitting room. He looks around at the platters and bottles and glasses on the tables. He plumps the cushions on the couch and runs a finger over the mantelpiece. He’s checking to see if anything is out of place. But there’s nothing wrong. Everything is gleaming. He notices me sitting in the window nook.
‘Ready?’ he asks.
I nod.
Then he says, ‘At least someone is.’

Who are his words for? They’re standing in the air like a glass of wine that someone was supposed to grab. But no one gets to them in time. They drop to the carpet and spread out in an invisible stain. That’s why the carpet’s so thick: it’s filled with words that no one wants.

‘You better go get ready.’ I look up. He’s talking to Mum, even though she’s been ready for over an hour. Her mouth drops open a bit. She looks down at her dress, then back at him. He breathes in deep and sucks up all the air in the room. Then he goes over to the couch. Reaches down behind it. Lifts something. It’s a box. He hands it to Mum.

Her hands are shaking a bit when she takes it. I’m leaning forward, as if that’s going to help me see better. All I can think is, Please let it be nice. Please. She lifts something out and the first thing I think is that it’s armour, like the chain mail stuff that knights used to wear. It’s not. It’s a dress. Silver and sparkly, in a really, really
expensive way.
‘Try it on. It should fit,’ Dad says.
‘Declan . . .’ Mum says. Her shoulders relax a bit. And the air rushes back into the room again. I breathe it in.
‘God, it’s just gorgeous,’ Mum says.
‘It would want to be. Cost nearly three grand,’ he says.
‘Three grand!’ I say. I didn’t mean to, the words just came out. Dad turns. But he laughs, too. He’s having fun now.
‘Why not?’ he says. ‘We have the money.’ He looks at both of us like our cat used to when he jumped in the window and plonked a dead bird down in front of us. ‘Mr Reynolds is going to be here,’ he says.
‘Thank you,’ Mum says and holds it up against her. She looks so happy that, for some reason, it makes me sad.
‘You. Are. Welcome,’ he says. Then he holds up his arm and shakes his wrist so his Rolex slides down. ‘Go on, go get changed.’
Mum rushes off. Dad surveys the room again and then goes into the hall. I hope the dress fits. And I hope Dad stays in a good mood.

If you’ve loved this extract, then I promise you, it only gets better. There’s so much I loved about this book. The characters, the interwoven lives, the secrets and lies. It’s great. The Words That Fly Between Us is out this month and I encourage each and every one of you to treat yourself! 

Massive thank you to Simon and Schuster for inviting me to host on the blog tour! Go check out the rest of the tour and get your hands on this brilliant book when it comes out! 

S x 

A Pocketful of Stars review

A Pocketful of Stars: magical, mysterious and memorable.

(proof cover – see finished cover at the bottom)

When I next open my eyes, I’m back… in front of the house again. It’s night time. The stars wave hello, like they’ve been expecting me. The door of the house, Mum’s house, is wide open, like it expects me too. This time, I go inside…

Safiya and her mum have never seen eye to eye. Her mum doesn’t understand Safiya’s love of gaming and Safiya doesn’t think they have anything in common. As Safiya struggles to fit in at school she wonders if her mum wishes she was more like her confident best friend Elle. But then her mum falls into a coma and, when Safiya waits by her bedside, she finds herself in a strange alternative world that looks a bit like one of her games. And there’s a rebellious teenage girl, with a secret, who looks suspiciously familiar…”

I’d like to preface this review by saying that this book has been one of my most anticipated books of 2019 and that my giddy… it BROKE ME. SO MUCH. 

OKAY. Let’s go. I’m sorry if my thoughts are all jumbled in this review… just bear with me. 

A Pocketful of Stars tells the wonderful story of Safiya, a young girl who is forever battling against her mam and her mam’s opinions on Saf’s hobbies. Saf is a gamer and her mam doesn’t necessarily see that as a “wise” way to spend time. Saf lives with her dad most of the time, but she sees her mam on a weekend. When something happens to Saf’s mam, Saf has to battle to try to save her mam: someone she has more in common than she realises. 

Picking up A Pocketful of Stars was like being transported to this incredibly magic and mystical world. A world where magic is possible; where you can fight for something you need and want desperately; one where that fight matters. There’s a real life setting and there’s this incredible setting of this alternative world. The setting descriptions immerse you entirely in whichever setting Saf is in. Aisha has a GORGEOUS writing style. I didn’t want to stop reading (I was GUTTED when I finished the book… because I needed more!) When Saf learns and understands the link between the two, the magic really kicks off. You see the world through a desperate young lady trying to fix something that may be unfixable.

Saf is a brilliant main character. I loved the fact she was a gamer – it’s so important that we show that girls can be gamers. She’s flawed, brave, clever, resourceful, proud, honest and scared. She makes mistakes. She says things she regrets. She’s warm and kind. She doesn’t pretend to be something she’s not. I think a lot of kids (and adults) are going to like Saf. There’s going to be girls who see a bit of themselves in Saf – and we all know that seeing yourself in a character is so important. She’s proud of who she is, and as you go through the story she becomes more proud of where she’s come from. Learning about her family, in particular her mother, shows Saf that she’s more similar to her mother than she thought. 

I loved that this book dealt with a family dynamic in a way which is kind of flipped on the head. Usually, you see that children live with mam and go and visit dad. Here, however, you have Saf lives with her dad and goes and visits mam. It might seem like a small detail, but for me, I really liked it. Family is a massively important theme in this book – both the family you have now and the family that came before you. There’s a lot of discovery in this book. Saf learns about herself, her parents and her extended family throughout this book: in more ways than one. 

This book is BRILLIANT for kids 9+. Teenagers will love this too. It’s a bit more grown up than typical 9-11 books. I think (and this is a total compliment) this is one of those books that we discover privately. It gives me slight A Monster Calls vibes – another book I PROPER adore. 

This book is like a deliciously written scavanger hunt. We all love going on an adventure and this book scratches that itch satisfyingly so. You go on a scavenger hunt in a very unconventional way with Saf. I don’t want to spoil too much because it’s one of the things that was just incredible about this book – but the magic of this book (we all know I love a bit of magic in my life) just made my heart complete. The way in which Saf tries to go about saving her mam made my heart just leap with joy.

Along with joy however, there was a LOT of tears. I need to warn you guys of that.

Not that we judge books by their covers (ahem) but LOOK AT THAT MAN. It is just incredible. There’s going to be some real shelf appeal with this. I adore it.

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My Goodreads review:

God. This book. BROKE MY SOUL. Guys, it’s bloody brilliant. It’s full of hope, magic, wonder, intrigue and love. There’s so much love in this book: between friends, with family and for yourself and your own strength. I loved Saf’s story and I can’t wait for you all to discover it.

OK, I’m going to lie down now and have another little cry about this book. Because it’s brilliant. pocketful of stars

Have you read A Pocketful of Stars?
How do you feel about a scavenger hunt?
DO YOU LOVE THAT COVER THO?

Talk to me! A massive thank you to the humans of Egmont for sending me a proof copy of A Pocketful of Stars. Year 5 are going to DIE.

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Anna Williamson

How Not To Lose It: a brilliant book to use when talking MH with kids

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“The go-to mental health guide for kids!
Exam stress? Friendship issues? Panic attacks?
How Not to Lose It will help you be the boss of all of this, and more.

It’s not just your body that should be fit and healthy – your mind needs to be, too! How Not to Lose It is the go-to guide for achieving a balanced mind and strong emotional well-being. With immediate, heart of the matter advice and a chatty yet honest tone, Anna Williamson addresses all of the key issues affecting children today.”

As a teacher, it’s so important that I have resources available to me for talking to kids about their mental health. We are seeing more and more that MH is something that is talked about in schools – and rightly so. There are more and more books becoming available to help kids learn about and talk about their MH and How Not To Lose It is a brilliant example of a book that’s going to do that! Aimed at 9-14 year olds, this book covers a wide variety of topics and is filled with empowering advice, delivered in a honest and chatty tone. 

How Not To Lose It covers such a wide variety of topics that you can find advice based on almost anything. The contents page kicks off in the way the book continues – friendly, colourful and it doesn’t feel like your typical “self help” book. There’s a handy index in the back too – always useful when you just want ONE specific thing. The topics covered in the book are:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • stress
  • friendship
  • bullying
  • relationships and sex
  • family life and bereavement
  • phobias
  • peer pressure
  • self-harm
  • self-esteem and confidence.

I love that this book is approachable. If a kid (this book is aimed at 9-14 year olds) picked it up, it’s appealing to them and it’s not just pages and pages of words. There’s agony aunt letters aplenty and there’s these brilliant “myth busting” boxes throughout. The illustrations are perfect for the age range that it’s aimed at and I read through as an adult and I learned things! The language used is chatty and honest, which makes it brilliantly readable for kids without sounding patronising.

This book is BRILLIANT. Properly brilliant. I love the variety of topics that it covers. These ‘To sum it all up…’ pages are my favourite pages throughout – there’s some proper sound advice on them. (This one about friendship is one of my favourites!) 

Anything that empowers our kids and helps them deal with anything they’re going through is a proper winner in my books and this one is brilliant! 

What are your favourite resources to use in the classroom about mental health?
Would you find this resource useful in the classroom?

A massive thank you to the publishers, Scholastic, for sending me a copy. I am going to have this at hand in my classroom. This book is out now and I would recommend UKS2/KS3 teachers to check it out!

S x