BLOG TOUR: The Pieces of Ourselves

Hello lovely friends!

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

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

A little bit about The Pieces of Ourselves first…

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

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

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

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

HOLLY BOURNE BOOKS

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

Heartstopper series by Alice Oseman

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

The Love Hypothesis by Laura Steven

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

Destination Anywhere by Sara Barnard (out in July)

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

No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter

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

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman

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

A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G.Drews

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

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

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

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

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

S x 

BLOG TOUR: The Thirteenth Home of Noah Bradley

Morning friends!

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

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

The Curse of the Werewolf

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

Here are three things to avoid.

1)            Don’t get bitten by another werewolf

2)            Don’t anger a witch and get cursed

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

The Thirteenth Home of Noah Bradley by Amber Lee Dodd

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

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

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

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S x

 

BLOG TOUR: Viper’s Daughter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some short reviews from my kids:

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

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

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

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

Viper's Daughter Blog Tour Banner

S x 

BLOG TOUR: Fig Swims the World

Good morning! 

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

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

Lou’s List of Swims

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

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

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

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

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

  1. The Marathon swim – Dart 10K

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

  1. The Popular swim – 6.5km around Brownsea Island

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

S x

BOOK BLOG: Abi Elphinstone

Jungledrop: exciting, filled with heart and adventure!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Goodreads review:

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

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

Amazon Preorder Link

Waterstones Preorder Link

Hive Preorder Link

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

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Sara Barnard

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon Preorder Link

Waterstones Preorder Link

Hive Preorder Link

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

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

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

Speak to you all soon! Stay safe! 

S x

BOOK BLOG: James Goodhand

Last Lesson: Tense, gripping and thrilling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Goodreads review:

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

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

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

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

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Emma Carroll

The Ghost Garden: Historical fiction done splendidly

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“SUMMER 1914. When Fran unearths a bone in the garden of Longbarrow House on the same afternoon that Leo breaks his leg, it must surely be just a coincidence. But Fran can’t shake the uneasy feeling that the events are somehow connected, and there is a shift in the atmosphere that leaves her troubled and anxious. Roped into keeping wheelchair-bound Leo company, Fran is forced to listen to his foolish theories about the looming threat of war in Europe. But as the pair start to uncover more secrets buried beneath the garden, they dredge up threatening shadows of the future, and Fran begins to fear that Leo’s dire predictions might be coming true…”

The brilliant squirrels over at Barrington Stoke sent me one of their brand new titles and I couldn’t have been more over-joyed to receive it. They have collaborated with Emma Caroll (Queen of all things historical fiction) and created an absolute winner!

Set at the start of World War 1, The Ghost Garden tells the story of Fran: a young girl whose family works at Longbarrow House. She ends up digging up a bone in the garden of the house and then something happens to one of the grand-children of the rich family. She worries that these things are connected (she’s not the biggest fan of Leo and his siblings) and is concerned that there is more to it than just coincidence. She ends up being roped into looking after Leo as he is wheelchair bound and his siblings don’t look after him well. As they spend more time together and go deeper into some well-kept secrets, they discover there’s more to Longbarrow House than they first knew!

I absolutely adored this story. It was one that I picked up and then gobbled up in a very short space of time! Something that I love about Barrington Stoke books is just that: they’re readable and brilliant. Their books are perfect for reluctant readers… and this is one that I would recommend whole heartedly!

Throughout the story, there’s an over riding sense of bad omens and a lot of tension is built up in very subtle but effective ways. I can see a lot of children loving this book for that sense of fear and tension.

I also thought the characters were brilliant too. Fran is a great main character and I think a lot of children will like her! She’s definitely pretty brave – I don’t think you’d find me going on adventures through the gardens of Longbarrow House in search of secrets and history! 

My Goodreads review

This is great! Properly classic Emma Carroll: historical fiction done well. I loved the apparent bad omens and tension throughout. Fran is a great main character. I’d love to visit Longbarrow House. Although I definitely would be as brave as Fran was!

Another massive thank you to Barrington Stoke for sending me a copy of this fantastic read! It’s out in July! You’re all in for a treat!

S x 

BLOG TOUR: Scribble Witch

Scribble Witch: Funny and beautifully illustrated!

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“When Molly’s best friend announces that she’s moving to a new school, a blue Wednesday becomes the Worst Wednesday Ever.
That is until some unexpected magic brightens up Molly’s day. Notes, a secret paper witch, springs to life from her pen pot – and into action! Some of the things Notes does are absolutely NOT helpful and gets Molly into trouble with her stinky teacher. But it’s surprising what one tiny witch, armed with nothing more than a pencil, can achieve before the home-time bell rings…”

Scibble Witch: Notes in Class is about a young girl called Molly. She is horrifed after hearing a piece of news from her friend Chloe. When Molly is looking a word up in the dictionary, she comes across a drawing of a witch and decides it is a brilliant idea to cut it out (because obviously!) to cut it out. The next thing she knows, the paper witch has come to life! The witch’s name is Notes and all Notes wants to do is help her friendling. As the story unfolds, Molly realises that what Notes does is sometimes very unhelpful and she finds herself in so much trouble.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book: it’s cute, it’s funny and it sets the scene for the rest of the series to be brilliant! It made me chuckle a lot and I know that it has gone down very well with the children in my school. We are dying to know what happens with Notes in the coming books! We’ve made some hilarious predictions about what we think could be coming for the group!

I’m a massive massive fan of a well-illustrated book and this is one that has some wonderful illustrations. They are so brilliantly done and add so much to the story. I love Molly’s Lists of Things! This list made me chuckle a lot (and I agree with most of them, and I remember the pencil topper craze. I was never allowed more than one, though…)

Some reviews from the children at school:

“I loved this book because it made me laugh a lot!”

“This book was a lot of fun because I’d love to have someone like Notes in my life. Imagine having a witch who thinks she’s being helpful when in fact she isn’t!”

“The pictures in this book made me smile a lot because they showed a lot of fun and things that you didn’t always read”.

A massive thank you to the publishers for sending me a review copy of the book! The kids at school loved reading it and it’s been a wonderful thing to have to chat about! Check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour!

scribble witch blog tour 2

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Maggie Harcourt

The Pieces of Ourselves: dive into history and find yourself!

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

I’m a massive fan of Maggie Harcourt’s other books. They’ve both brought massive smiles to my face and been the joy of my life, so when I heard there was going to be another one, I was CHOMPING at the bit to get my hands on it. When it arrived, I was excited to read it and expected it to be the same as her other books, but I was surprised. Pleasantly. This book is so different and it’s SO INCREDIBLE. 

Theatrical review

Unconventional review

The Pieces of Ourselves tells the story of Flora. Flora is a young girl who has bipolar and works at a big fancy house as a housekeeper. She lives with her brother and his boyfriend. She’s not a big fan of people. She’s not had wonderful experiences with people in her past. Something happened during her GCSEs and it’s changed her perception of people. She keeps herself to herself as much as she can… that is until she is thrust into the presence of Hal, a young man who is desperate to know the story of a WW1 soldier. She’s hesitant at first, but as she gets deeper into the mystery, she knows that she needs to get to the bottom of the story. And she needs to open herself up a bit. 

I’m a proper sucker for a mystery. A well-written mystery like this one can be one of the absolute joys of my life to read. I read this book with so much curiosity because just like Hal and Flora, I wanted to know what the story behind this soldier was. I wanted to see how this very timid and quite isolated young girl would keep changing and flourishing as she followed things she loved doing. 

I really liked the honest portrayal of Flora’s bipolar in this book. It’s done really well and I think that it will be eye-opening for lots of people to read Flora’s character. You see how Flora’s brother and his partner help Flora in her times of need. You see how it affects Flora. 

This book gave me a resounding feeling of warmth. It was one of intrigue and questions. It was so lovely to read a story where the two main characters are (mostly) surrounded by love. There’s a lot of passion in this story. People doing what they’re good at. People following their passions. People getting the chance to shine at what they do best. Flora following her passions of history, even when at first she definitely didn’t want to, made me so glad. Sometimes people have to pushed into their comfort zones to really shine. 

Friends. I love Hal. OK?

I just think he’s so lovely. He’s sweet and kind. He’s curious. He’s honest. He’s guarded. He’s lovely. He’s (in my head) handsome. He’s got a passion. He’s got a story and I love that he shared his story with Flora. 

For those people asking? Yes. Yes I cried. Of course I did. What do you expect from me? 

My Goodreads review:

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

I need someone to read this book so I can FLAIL about Hal because I just love him. I have loads of other thoughts about this book but they are SPOILERSPOILERSPOILER. So just go out and buy it when it’s out (April 2nd) and then we can talk! 

Are you curious about The Pieces of Ourselves?
Do you like a mystery?
Have you read any of Maggie’s other books?

A massive thank you to the publishers, Usborne, for sending me a copy of this early. You guys sent it to me in perfect time for me to need it. 

S x