BOOK BLOG: Hannah Capin

Foul is Fair: Menacing, reckless and delicious

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“Elle and her friends Mads, Jenny, and Summer rule their glittering LA circle. Untouchable, they have the kind of power other girls only dream of. Every party is theirs and the world is at their feet. Until the night of Elle’s sweet sixteen, when they crash a St. Andrew’s Prep party. The night the golden boys choose Elle as their next target. They picked the wrong girl. Sworn to vengeance, Elle transfers to St. Andrew’s. She plots to destroy each boy, one by one. She’ll take their power, their lives, and their control of the prep school’s hierarchy. And she and her coven have the perfect way in: a boy named Mack, whose ambition could turn deadly.”

When I first heard about this book, I knew I needed to read it. I didn’t know much about it, but the WHOLE premise of it just spoke to me. It sounded like something I would ADORE and man, did I. I have SO MUCH LOVE for this book. It is DELICIOUSLY EVIL. It’s clever. It’s a little bit evil. It’s brilliantly written.

Foul Is Fair tells the story of Elle, a young girl who is sexually assaulted at a party. She’s fearless, smart, cunning and surrounded by a group of friends who will go to the end of the earth for her. This is a dangerous combination for Elle, as she’s out to get revenge. Revenge is the name of her game. She moves schools to be near to the boys who assaulted her and one by one she picks them off. There’s all kinds of dastardly deeds that go on with Elle and her group of friends. 

When I read this book, I didn’t realise (and I don’t know how I didn’t know) that there would be SUCH strong Lady Macbeth/Macbeth vibes, but my god. It made me love this book even more than I did in the first place. Any time anyone asks me about this book I say the same thing

“Imagine Lady Macbeth was a teenage girl who has been sexually assaulted and is out for blood” 

And I think that is SO BLOODY ACCURATE for this book. 

I think Lady Macbeth is one hell of a woman. She’s power-hungry, reckless, dangerous. Add this to a teenage girl who is out for blood and revenge for something that happened to her and you get Elle. 

Elle joins the school that the boys all attend and changes her identity so they don’t know who she really is. She cuts her hair, changes her name to Jade and infiltrates (pretty swiftly) the “popular” gang pretty quickly. Not everyone trusts her. She ends up in the innermost circle of the popular gang pretty quickly and that’s when things start going wrong: when things start happening to the boys. Of course, things aren’t plain sailing for Jade/Elle. She falls for one of the boys in the group. She falls for him hard. She thinks he’s an innocent in the whole thing, so thinks she can trust him. But is he as innocent as he seems in the whole situation?

With her coven at her side, she will stop at nothing to get vengeance for the thing that happened to her. Her friends come up with very clever plans to get to the boys. To get under their skin. To spook them. To hurt them. To make them doubt themselves. 

There are SO MANY parallels between this book and Macbeth. Anyone who is a Macbeth fan will love this (it’s my favourite play). I can’t sing enough of its praise to be able to tell you how menacing and revenge filled this is! 

My Goodreads review:

This book gives me mega strong Lady Macbeth vibes and I am HERE FOR IT. You can’t beat a murderous, rampaging coven of teenage girls seeking revenge. This is on the edge of reckless and menacingly clever. I am here for it.

And there you go! Massive thank you to the publishers, Penguin, for sending me a review copy… I have since made 3 people buy it to read it! If you’ve read this, please talk to me in the comments. I need more people who love it! 

Can you recommend me any Macbeth retellings?
Have you read Fair is Foul?
Do you have a favourite Shakespeare?

S x

BLOG TOUR: Lisa Williamson

Hello loves!

How are you today? What’s going on in your world? Anything exciting?

Today I’m here to be part of the blog tour for the paperback edition of Paper Avalanche by Lisa Williamson! To coincide with the release of the paperback, the publishers have also rereleased 2 of Lisa’s other amazing books with gorgeous sprayed edges and I couldn’t have been more happy to see them! Just look at them!

Updated Lisa Williamson Jackets Nov 2019

Now I’ve read both Paper Avalanche (I read it in hardback) and The Art of Being Normal and I’ve shared my thoughts about them, so I thought today I’d share my thoughts on ‘All About Mia.’

 All About Mia: a brilliant story with family at it’s heart

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“One family, three sisters. GRACE, the oldest: straight-A student. AUDREY, the youngest: future Olympic swimming champion. And MIA, the mess in the middle.

Mia is wild and daring, great with hair and selfies, and the undisputed leader of her friends – not attributes appreciated by her parents or teachers. When Grace makes a shock announcement, Mia hopes that her now-not-so-perfect sister will get into the trouble she deserves. But instead, it is Mia whose life spirals out of control – boozing, boys and bad behaviour – and she starts to realise that her attempts to make it All About Mia might put at risk the very things she loves the most.”

I remember picking up this book knowing that I was going to be impressed. Lisa has this incredibly effortless way of punching you in the face and making you feel all of the things. This book was just great and it made me laugh AND cry.

Mia is the middle sister of the family; older sister Grace is the over-achiever who’s scored herself a spot in a much sought-after university; younger sister Audrey is a swimmer who has the Olympics in her sight. Mia is just Mia. No university, Olympics, greatness in her sights. She doesn’t know what her “thing” is and feels like she’s living in the shadow of her sisters’ greatness. With all of this, and then a revelation from one of her sisters, Mia’s life doesn’t go QUITE how she planned. 

I loved the exploration of family dynamics in this book. I only have a brother myself, so getting to read about life with 2 sisters was great. Some of the things I could relate to! There were lots of moments in this book between the sisters that made my heart just jump with joy and that’s what I’m here for. It’s always great to read HONEST portayals of families too because we all know that our families aren’t perfect, so reading this imperfect family was refreshing. 

I started the book and I didn’t love Mia. I don’t know what it was about her, but we just didn’t click, but as I read, she grew on me. I learned to love her. She makes mistakes, she said some of the wrong things and DEFINITELY DOES some not so wise things. Her character arc was just wonderful to experience with her. She becomes someone I want to hug and love. She has a wonderful sense of humour – if you’re a fan of a sarcastic, sassy MC, then Mia is definitely a girl for you!

This book is one that I really did love. It’s like one of those brilliant YA books that you just wanna devour. With characters you wanna fall for, emotions you will definitely feel and moments that we can all empathise with, this is how it’s done. It’s like reading about yourself, or your friends, without being pointed at. Mia learns that it’s OK to not know what your thing is, it’s OK to make mistakes and it’s OK to still be learning… and we learn and appreciate this alongside her. 

Lol, my Goodreds review is of course as helpful as ever!

Give Mia a chance. She’ll grow on you.

Have you read All About Mia?
Are you, like me, a massive Lisa Williamson fan?
Can you recommend me some books like this one to read?

A massive thank you to the publishers David Fickling Books for inviting me to be part of the blog tour. I love Lisa’s work a lot! Check out the rest of the blog tour to see what other’s think! 

If you’d fancy a copy of Paper Avalanche for yourself, click on over to Waterstones to get yourself a copy! I would TOTALLY recommend it! 

Paper Avalanche blog tour banner

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Jason Reynolds

Sunny: a brilliant story to add to a brilliant series! 

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Anyone who’s been here before (or follows me on Twitter) will know that I am a MASSIVE fan of the Run series by Jason Reynolds. I have read both Ghost and Patina (spoiler: I loved them both), so when I saw that it was time for Sunny to be out, I needed to get my hands on it. 

This series follows a bunch of 4 runners who are part of the same running team. They’re 4 diverse characters who are dealing with a whole host of different things in their lives and they have running as some kind of escape from their lives.

These books are wonderful books for Year 5s/Year 6s to read when they want something a bit more meaty to deal with. There’s some mature themes dealt with in them, but they’re done brilliantly. 

Anyway, let’s get on with talking about Sunny!

“When Sunny stops running in the middle of a race, Coach asks him what he wants to do instead. His answer is dance, but you can’t be on a track team and dance… can you? With his dad’s expectations weighing down on him, Sunny finally finds a track event that feels like dancing. But as he practices for this new event, can he let go of everything that’s been eating him up inside?”

I started reading this book and was instantly met with this wonderful, bright, weird (self-confessed) young man who saw colour and sound in everything in the world. There’s a sound to match everything in Sunny’s world: the way he dances, how people walk, how he runs. He’s writing in his diary because that’s what he does to make the noises stop slightly. His world gets a bit too noisy, and he gets a bit too angry, so he writes in a diary to make these things seem less intimidating. 

You meet this young man who is going through it all. He’s learning about himself and that the image his dad has of him isn’t the image he has of himself. He’s not a runner anymore. He’s tired of running. It doesn’t challenge him. He knows he can run and win. So he just stops. Mid race. He loves dancing. It makes sense to him. It makes him happy. He’s scared to share this with the people around him because it’s not what is expected of him, but when he does share it with Coach, Coach does (of course) use it to show Sunny that there is something he can do that isn’t running: discus throwing. As Coach says “it’s basically dancing”. 

What you get in this story is an exploration of finding out how to be good at something that you’re not naturally good at. How you can blame yourself for something that isn’t your fault. How family will always be family. How grief can appear in adults. How guilt can drive motives. How there’s always light in the world. How hope can be the thing that keeps us moving. 

Sunny is a wonderful main character. He’s so full of pizzazz (is that how you spell that word?!) and he’s so unique. I loved that he was different. He thinks in his own way and reading his diaries was refreshing. It was so lovely to hear his story through his thoughts, through his eyes. His relationship with his dad starts as cold and distant, but as the two grow to learn about each other (with the help of Gramps and Aurelia, who I loved) this begins to change. The last page gave me such feels. There’s some gorgeous moments of gentleness in this story that really punched me in the guts. I think the contrast between his relationship with Coach (who I have adored for 3 books now and I want him to have his own book) and his relationship with dad was interesting. Dad’s arc was gorgeous to read though. Reading adult grieving processes in stories always hits me where it hurts. 

I loved that this book explored the importance of Sunny making decisions for himself, not just proceeding with the decisions made by his parents for him. He does things because he’s trying to fill a hole that he thinks he made. He runs because he’s trying to fill a hole in his dad’s life, where his mum should be. When he gets to the point where he realises that’s not who he is, he makes a decision and just stops. Dead in the middle of a race. He’s tired. He’s tired of being what others think. 

This is a story full of warmth, love, respect and sadness, but also JAM PACKED with hope. Hope that you can be whoever you want to be. Hope that you can do what makes you happy. Hope that even the hardest of times have an ending. Hope that the people around you will support you, even if you don’t think they will.

I can’t wait for the fourth book in this series to come out (later this year I think), but at the same time, I’m not ready for it to be over. I hope Jason Reynolds writes books for many years to come. And I hope Knights Of keep giving me amazing books to read too! 

My Goodreads review:

I love this series so much and getting to know these kids makes me so happy. This deals so gently with grief and how adults deal with it in the background, and in the foreground you’ve got brilliant Sunny who is weird and wonderful and great. He’s a runner, a dancer, a worrier. He’s surrounded by these amazing people and I’m so glad.

Have you read any of the Run series?
Are you following the escapades of Knights Of?
Can you recommend me any books like this?

If you’re not following Knights Of on twitter, please go do that. They are making waves and I just think they’re doing such an amazing job. 

S x

BOOK BLOG: L.D.Lapinski

The Strangeworlds Travel Agency: the start of a complete adventure that I can’t wait to go along on!

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“At the Strangeworlds Travel Agency, each suitcase transports you to a different world. All you have to do is step inside…
When 12-year-old Flick Hudson accidentally ends up in the Strangeworlds Travel Agency, she uncovers a fantastic secret: there are hundreds of other worlds just steps away from ours. All you have to do to visit them is jump into the right suitcase. Then Flick gets the invitation of a lifetime: join Strangeworlds’ magical travel society and explore other worlds. But, unknown to Flick, the world at the very centre of it all, is in danger. Buildings and even streets are mysteriously disappearing. Once Flick realizes what’s happening she must race against time before it collapses into nothingness — and takes our world with it.”

Now, we all know I love a good fantasy book over here at A Little But A Lot, and it’s SO INCREDIBLY REFRESHING to read a fantasy book that I haven’t come across before. To read a bunch of characters, a plot and a world (or group of worlds) that I’ve not come across is just gorgeous. You can’t beat that feeling of stepping into a new world and just falling head over hells for it. With The Strangeworlds Travel Agency, I found that. I found a book that I needed to devour. I read it greedily. I needed to know what was coming next. I wanted to know what was going on. I had a million questions and I needed the answers. There were characters who I needed to know more about. I wanted their back stories. 

The premise of this book, this series of books I SHOULD say (we all know I love a series too so that was music to my ears) is that there are magical people in the world who have the powers to visit other worlds through magical suitcases. Young Flick (our MC) is a girl who discovers she is able to do this, but it comes at a price: saving the world. Imagine that… being able to open one of these magical suitcases and jumping in (following the rules of course) and then being in a new and wonderful world. I don’t know that I’d be brave enough to do that to be honest, but I absolutely love the idea. Something that I love about this book is that it made the ordinary extraordinary. Nothing was quite what it seemed. There was always a bit of a spark of magic with everything. There was that twinkle in the eye.

The world building in this book is top notch. From Flick and Jonathon’s very real world, to the many and varied worlds they jump into, there’s something for everyone. I loved that as I went through, it was a very immersively written book. You are there. As you read, it’s like reading a film. You see it so clearly and you can’t help but feel like you’re there. Regardless of where you are, who you’re with, you’re there in the book in the amazing array of worlds that Lapinski has written. Each of the unique worlds are crafted so beautifully that you could quite happily stay there to discover the magic and the wonder in these places. You leave with more questions than you started with and I think that’s the majesty of this book. You should have more questions. You should want more from these worlds. That’s what makes you want to read more. I can’t wait to see where we get to explore in the coming books.

Along with the incredible worlds that I really adored, you have characters who show the determination, braveness and humour that the best people have. You meet Flick: brave, bold, brazen. She finds out she’s got to help save a city from certain destruction, but not just the city, but the world. She’s hesitant at first (who’d blame her?) but allows her curiosity to bubble under the surface. She wants to seem cool, but we all know that deep down she can’t wait to get her feet wet and start adventuring. She’s a brilliantly loveable character. Alongside Flick, we have the ever sassy and much needed Jonathon. He’s got a very quick wit; there’s a lot of snark. He seems to be uncaring, but deep down he very much takes his job seriously. He’s desperate to do something about finding what was lost. He needs help, but he’s a bit proud. He definitely shone to me as a character that you don’t read much in MG books and I think he is a WELCOME addition to the world of MG. Both of these characters are the kind that grip onto you and you can’t quite get rid of in the very best ways. You become invested in them and what is happening to them, so you HAVE to read on to know they’re OK. 

Something which makes this book even more wonderful in my opinion is its exploration of themes which are very real to us all: friendship, identity, family, loss and love in all its guises. Books for kids are more so dealing with bigger and bigger issues and I welcome it with open arms. This book doesn’t shy from dealing with these issues and they’re done in a brilliant way. You very much have an incredible adventure book here that weaves these subplots into the story so you experience them with the characters. I loved the friendship between Jonathon and Flick. It’s unconventional, but it works. They balance each other so beautifully. They’re what the other needs, without accepting that as a thing. I can’t wait to watch their friendship blossom in the rest of the series. There’s nods to gender identity that I think are really bloody important. It’s not a big thing, but it’s there. It’s done so seamlessly and beautifully that it’s just part of the book.

Reading Strangeworlds made me laugh, cry and delighted me. It’s a hug in a book that’s just taken you on a bit of an adventure. It’s danger and then a cup of tea and a biscuit offered when you get back. It’s a glorious mix of is an hope, adventure, exploration, love, humour, excitement, and because every good book needs it, a bit of peril. You never feel like you’re not safe though. This book is a complete hit in my reading life and I can’t wait to see how everything is explored and developed in the coming books. I finished book 1 with SO MANY QUESTIONS, so bring on book 2!

My Goodreads review:

A complete and utter ride. Just everything I needed in a book: magic, friendship, laughter, snark and adventure. I think this is gonna be something huge. Bloody loved every second. There’s something for everyone here and I can’t wait for the world to read it. The characters are amazing; the worlds are just exceptional and the writing is lush. I want to be part of this world!

Because I loved this book so much, I created this mood board that isn’t really spoiler-y at all, but was a collection of pictures that I saw and definitely made me think of this incredible book!

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Phew. What a mammoth review that was. But I need you guys to know that this book is magical and brilliant and wonderful. Out in April, I implore you all to preorder it now!

Would you jump through a suitcase if it took you somewhere new?
What would you hope to see/find there?
HAVE YOU PREORDERED THIS ALREADY PLEASE?

A massive thank you to my friend for letting me read her proof copy of this book! It was much needed for my little brain! And thank you to YOU for reading my blog!

S x

Fabulous non-fiction

Recently, I’ve received a few brilliant non-fiction titles in the post and I thought I would share them with you! 

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I am LOVING how gorgeous and well-thought out non fiction books are becoming. For so long they weren’t very appealing to look at, but with so many of the new titles out now, that is all changing! It’s certainly helping children to pick up more non-fiction books! 

Colossus – Colin Hynson

Have you ever wondered how the Golden Gate Bridge was built? Or how workers with basic tools created enormous monuments in ancient times? And how do you build a flying laboratory in space? This fascinating book reveals some of the greatest feats of engineering in history. From enormous bridges and tunnels that run for hundreds of miles, to towering skyscrapers and massive space stations, discover how some of Earth’s most colossal structures were made in beautifully illustrated detail. 

This book is BLOODY magnificent. It’s full of facts, gorgeous illustrations and it kept me entertained for a good while learning all about different feats of engineering around the world. Whether you’re a lover of engineering and construction or not, this is definitely one that you should get your hands on. It’s just brilliant! 

Earth Shattering Events – Robin Jacobs

We humans take our domination of the planet for granted, but sometimes nature reminds us that this is an illusion. Tectonics rip open the earth, vast waves sweep away coastal towns, magma spews from volcanoes and hurricanes lay waste to entire countries. This book explores nature at its most destructive. Clear, coherent explanations break down the science behind phenomena including hurricanes, tornadoes, avalanches, earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes, alongside fascinating facts about the biggest and the worst. 

This book would be PERFECT for any kind of natural disasters topic in Upper Key Stage 2. It’s SUCH  spot on book. The explanations are scientific enough to educate, but clear enough to not baffle kids. I loved looking through all of the different pages. This might be one of my favourite books I’ve received lately because I learned SO MUCH. This is perfect for a geographer in your life! It’s not only informative but it is BRILLIANTLY illustrated by Sophie Williams: the illustrations add so much to it! Just spot on!

Gut Garden – Katie Brosnan

A visual exploration of the universe that exists within our own bodies. Within our bodies hides an entire world of organisms called microbes. They boost our immune systems, digest our food, regulate our metabolism and even impact on our mental health. This book follows the digestive process from the moment the food enters our mouths to the moment waste leaves our bodies. Along the way we learn about this fascinating scientific frontier and gain an insight into the vastecosystem that exists inside us.

This is another example of a book which is PERFECT for Upper Key Stage 2. This book is JAM-PACKED full of information for children to take in, talk about and thenprobe further. I love the way this book is presented and the information is in small chunks, which is easy to digest (ha). It’s so wonderful to read something which has been so well thought out and flows so well. Kids are going to love this because it covers things that we don’t talk about so much – it’s a bit gross, but fascinating! 

Unseen Worlds – Helene Rajcak and Damien Laverdunt

Discover a hidden universe of microscopic monsters right before your eyes. Travel to locations both familiar and strange as you search for the smallest creatures on Planet Earth. You’ll never see the world the same way again! Unfold each page to reveal stunningly detailed illustrations bursting with jelly-like amoebae, predatory centipedes, ravenous mosquitoes, and more mites than you could imagine. From the murky ocean depths to your kitchen cupboard, and even inside your nose, you’ll travel to locations both familiar and strange as you search for the smallest creatures on Planet Earth.

With fold out pages and a wonderful range of facts to learn, this book is one that I personally learned a lot from. I’m not a big fan of creepy crawlies and the likes, but this can’t hurt me so I am ALL about it! It’s wonderful that you get to explore places you never get to through a book, and in this you get to see microscopic things that your eyes never could and learn about them! What can I say? I’m a big fan of learning and books like this fascinate me because this is something someone knows a lot about! 

A massive thank you to the publicists from What on Earth Books, Templar Books and Cicada Books for these incredible additions to our non-fiction collection!

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Christmas is coming – an Advent book

Christmas Is Coming: the PERFECT book to help your little ones count down to Christmas!

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I know Advent has already started, but it is never too late to get yourself a gorgeous new book! Christmas is a wonderful time of year to get to share stories, make new traditions and do something as a family.

This book is the PERFECT tradition to start with your children because it is JAM PACKED full of gorgeous little snippets of Christmas joy.

You can’t tell on my picture (sorry for the shoddy photography skills) but on the cover there are flaps to open for each day of the countdown to Christmas. I’m a SUCKER for a book that counts down through Advent so when this came through my door I was floored with joy! I just wish I had my own children to share this with (I do, I have 30, ha!) 

As you count down through Advent, you get all kinds of different things. There’s recipes, there’s songs, there’s ideas for things to do to be kind! I love that there’s a range of things throughout the book as it means that there’s not just story, but it keeps children engaged. There’s a recipe for raspberry hot chocolate that is PARTICULARLY delicious! 

The illustrations throughout make this book even more beautiful in my opinion. You can’t beat a good bit of well illustrated book. I was very taken by this “Seek and Find” page… it took me a little while to find everything, but I think that’s what’s going to make it even more special for families. It’s something you can do together. You can spent 5 minutes at bed time reading this book and seeing what the day brings you! This could be read in a morning, at night: anytime of the day! Kids are just going to love this and I think parents will too (I know if I were a parent I would be ALL OVER THIS). 

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WHO DOESN’T LOVE A CHRISTMAS JOKE? I love a bad joke!

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All of the gorgeous Advent activities culminate in the story of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ for December 24th. I think that’s the PERFECT way to end this gorgeous book. There’s the whole story and it makes the perfect bed time read in all of the excitement of Christmas! Look at that page though… just exquisite! 

A massive thank you to the people at Abrams and Chronicle for sending me this. It made my heart so very happy when I received it! You should definitely go and check it out if you like the sound of it (and if you don’t, then I don’t think we can be friends!)

Are you a fan of an Advent countdown?
Do you have a favourite Christmas tradition?
What’s your favourite thing about the festive season?

Talk to me! I’d love to talk Christmas with you all!

S x 

BLOG TOUR: We’re Off To Find A Unicorn

We're Off to Find A Unicorn

“We’ve hunted for bears, elves and eggs… now we’re hunting for everyone’s favourite – unicorns! But readers will not only enjoy looking for the hiding unicorn in the pages, they’ll also learn about our world’s endangered wildlife along the way.”

We’re Off To Find a Unicorn is a gorgeously written and illustrated picture book which is reminiscent of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt! Written by Elouise White and illustrated by Cory Reid, this is going to be a sure fire hit with loads of kids and teachers alike! 

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There’s a gorgeous repeating pattern with this book. A pattern that children will be sure to want to join in with! It’s always good to read books which little ones can join in with! Lots of kids love unicorns now, so this is sure to be a hit! It’s a book that once children know it, they can go off and read to themselves because they know the pattern and they might even start to make up their own version!

The story follows a group looking for an infamous unicorn. They trudge through the cold, the warm and all kinds of gorgeous different habitats looking for a unicorn… with very little luck! I loved that it explored different kinds of habitats as it will allow for loads of discussion with children. Also, I loved that the animals the group found along the way weren’t always the obvious ones (see below)! It’s always brilliant to introduce children to knew animals!

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This book is just lush. It’s going down a storm at school and the kids are loving it! We’ve even had a few aspiring authors who think they want to write their own version of this book, so I’ll let you know how theose go!

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With gorgeous illustrations like this one, which might be my favourite, this book is filled with gorgeous detail. It is sure to keep children talking and wondering! Plus, you can’t beat a gorgeously illustrated end papers! These made us laugh a lot!

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A massive thank you to the publishers Owlet Press for sending me a review copy and asking me to be on the blog tour! What a joy! 

You can get yourself a copy of the book here: Owlet Press website.

Check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour to see what some fellow bloggers thought of this gorgeous fun picture book!

Unicorn blog tour

S x

BOOK BLOG: Alex Bell

Explorers on Black Ice Bridge: a rip-roaring adventure through icy cold depths!

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“Ice princess Stella Starflake and her father Felix are in trouble: President Fogg has expelled them from the Polar Bear Explorers’ Club, and banned them from going on any further expeditions. Stella’s not going to be put off by rules and regulations though. She knows her friend Shay is in danger of turning into a witch wolf himself, since receiving a deadly bite on their last adventure. It’s vital that Stella and her friends set out to find the spellbook that could save his life, even if it means travelling over the cursed Black Ice Bridge.”

Anyone who has spent any time on this blog knows that I am a MASSIVE fan of the Polar Bear Explorers series. The first book absolutely blew me away. The second book (of which you can read my review here) was one of the best books I read last year. I had very high hopes for the third book in the series. I’d been sat around ever since last year waiting for this to come out… and my word. What a total winner! 

Explorers on Black Ice Bridge starts with a total bang. Pearl and her dad Felix are in a  LOT of trouble. They got up to a lot of mischief (although I would argue they were doing it for good) in book 2, so they are having to deal with their actions now. The council of the Polar Bear Explorers’ Club are NOT happy with Stella and Felix. Ultimately, Stella and Felix are expelled from the Polar Bear Explorers’ Club (more fool the club in my opinion tbh). This leaves them in a very tricky situation because they still have an exploration they need to go on to save Stella’s friend, but now that they don’t belong to a club, they’re not allowed to. 

Of course, Felix being Felix, he knows that there is no such thing as an explorer who isn’t allowed to explore. He knows that Stella and her friends need to be able to get their mission completed because when friends are in need, it’s down to them to stick together to help. Felix and Stella, with the use of Stella’s ice magic and her friends, make things happen. They get the exploring ball rolling again. What ensues is a complete adventure into frozen lands, a surprisingly charming and funny flamingo who dons a top hat and friendship that always wins. 

Something I loved most about this book was that I was CONSTANTLY surprised. There were things that I wasn’t expecting. Characters you thought were one thing, who ended up being another thing. Choices made which definitely were unexpected. Settings and places I wouldn’t have predicted visiting. Some tiny subtle things which made my heart explode (there’s a wonderful bit about bad memories and it almost made me cry!). There’s a wonderful setting at the end of the story and it just floored me because it was SO out there, but it worked so beautifully for the story. 

There’s some wonderful messages in this book about looking after each other, the importance of kindness, looking after the world and being responsible. We are all responsible for the world we live on – whether it’s Stella in her world, or us in our world. This was a lovely thing to read because it wasn’t preachy, but it was beautifully written. Something which would make children think without intimidating them. 

My Goodreads review:

A rip-roaring adventure through ice, self doubt and friendship. With a flamingo (who is rather fun) and a menacing villain, this book was surprise after surprise. I really enjoyed this! I’m hoping there’s more to come because that ending lends itself to more…

If you’re looking for an icy adventure, perfect for a winter’s day, look no further than Explorers on Black Ice Bridge (but remember to read the two previous books first… they are MOST binge worthy). If you don’t fall for Felix, then we can’t be friends. 

I don’t know if this review does the book ANY justice… so please go out and read it! Then we can talk about how bloody awesome it is. I can’t wait to give it to my own explorers! They’re going to love it! 

Have you read Explorers on Black Ice Bridge?
Do you think you’d make a good explorer?
Where would you explore to if you had the chance?

Explorers on Black Ice Bridge is out now! GO GO GO!

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Elizabeth Acevedo

With The Fire On High: following your dreams is hard, but you’re so worth it!

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“Ever since she got pregnant, seventeen-year-old Emoni’s life has been about making the tough decisions – doing what has to be done for her young daughter and her grandmother. Keeping her head down at school, trying not to get caught up with new boy Malachi. The one place she can let everything go is in the kitchen, where she has magical hands – whipping up extraordinary food beloved by everyone.

Emoni wants to be a chef more than anything, but she knows it’s pointless to pursue the impossible. There are rules she has to play by. And yet, once she starts cooking, and gets that fire on high, she sees that her drive to feed will feed her soul and dreams too. And anything is possible.”

I was sent this book in the post a while ago and it took me a while to pick it up… and my god did I regret it taking me forever to read! This book is just wonderful: the voice, the writing style, the rollercoaster you go on.

Everything about this book spoke to me: as a reader, a dreamer, a woman and a human.

This book tells the story of Emoni, a young mother who is trying to keep all of her plates balanced on their sticks. She’s trying to be the best mam she can be to Babygirl; the best coparent with her ex (who is a bit of a twat tbh); the best granddaughter to her lovely Buela; the best student she can be at school. As soon as she manages to get one of these plates balanced, another one manages to unbalance itself. She’s dealing with all of these things and then her dream opportunity comes along. 

Emoni loves cooking. She’s free in the kitchen. She can play by her own rules. There are no rules. It’s all about feel and flavour. It’s something she just gets. It’s a place for her to be her truest self. She can play and experiment and feel without worrying that she’s going to be wrong – because she knows she KNOWS this stuff. Or at least she thinks she does. When she gets the chance to choose a cooking class at school, she starts to realise that there are rules to cooking. There’s things she has to do. It isn’t always just knowing and following your gut: it’s about following a recipe how it is. Emoni finds this a hard lesson to learn. Her teacher is hard on her (this frustrated me at first because I was totally #teamEmoni) but you realise that there’s a reason for this!

As you read the story, you follow this wonderfully charming and beautiful young girl on an exploration of accepting and loving who she is and following her dreams, even when it seems that all of the odds are stacked against her. She’s given the chance to go to Spain as part of her cooking class… and of course she knows she’ll never be able to afford it. 

I loved this book. It’s one of those brilliant books that comes along and shocks you with its gorgeousness. Emoni’s voice is spot on. Her story is one I wanted to know more about. I wanted things to work out for her. She’s fiercely brave. She’s flawed. She worries. She’s trying her hardest to be everything for everyone else, so when the chance comes to be something for herself, she initially decides she’s not worthy. I could’ve happily read this book if it were 100 pages longer. I wanted more of Emoni’s story. She’s one of those characters I just fall for and root for completely. 

This is the perfect story about the brilliance of women and their spirit. Emoni is surrounded by wonderful women, from her bloody marvellous Buela, to her Babygirl and her best friend. We all know women are brilliant and this book is a wonderful celebration of this. 

My Goodreads review:

Loved this. Bloody gorgeous voice and a really interesting plot. I loved Emoni so much. She’s brave, scared and a proper mama bear. I loved her Buela too. This book is like a hearty meal: it leaves you satisfied and warm. Bloody yes.

A massive thank you to Hot Key Books for sending me a copy of this book. I wanna hug it so hard. 

Have you read With The Fire On High?
What’s one of your secret ambitions?
Where is the one place you’d love to visit?

Talk to me! I’d love to know if anyone else has read this!

Speak to you all soon!

S x 

BOOK BLOG: We Are Artists

We Are Artists: a gorgeous exploration of the life and work of 15 female artists from around the world.

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We Are Artists places the spotlight on women painters, sculptors, printmakers, illustrators, designers, and craftswomen who created monumental artwork, often against daunting odds. The book includes reproductions of modern and contemporary artwork by Frida Kahlo, Yayoi Kusama, Georgia O’Keeffe, Alma Thomas, and Kenojuak Ashevak, to name a few. Through their personal stories, readers will learn about the art movements each artist worked in and the influence they exerted on both the art world and society as a whole.”

I received this book in the post this week from the absolute wonders over at Thames and Hudson and I can see SO MUCH coming from this book that my brain is BRIMMING with ideas! 

We Are Artists is a gorgeous exploration of 15 different female artists from around the world, their art and their work. I’ll be honest, art is not my strong point, but learning about inspiring and innovative women is something that I am VERY PASSIONATE about. This book is jam packed with information and it’s all beautifully presented – there’s nothing worse than a boring inside to a non-fiction book. 

Something I love (and learned though reading this book) about this book is that it puts the spotlight on not just painters but printmakers, illustrators, designers and craftswomen alike who are often missed out of history/art history books. I’ll be honest there’s one or two of the women who I hadn’t heard of/didn’t know a lot about in this book, so naturally they were the pages I started with. I think it’s really important to expose children to as many different types of artist as possible because for some children artists are only people who sit at an easel and paint! 

For each artist, you get a gorgeous portrait, a quote from them and then a few pages all about their lives. Through each of the biographies of these incredibly inspiring women, you get pictures of their artwork along with dates. The information is written in a way which tells you what the women had to go through, but in a sensitive and carefully crafted manner. (If it’s not already clear, I’m a massive fan of a biography and this book makes me so happy as a teacher and a reader).

Some of my favourite quotes from these women:

‘If you’re not afraid, how can you really be brave?’ (Tove Jansson)

‘Not all of us are painters but we are all artists. Each time we fit things together we are crezating’ (Corita Kent)

‘My art is not my career, it is myself’ (Amrita Sher-Gil)

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Something else I loved about this book is that at the back there is a glossary of terms. For me, as an inexperienced and unconfident art teacher, this was so helpful. You can never stop learning in the world. Every day is a learning day in my life. The definitions are all really child friendly too and I think this is great – kids can take this book and just get on with reading it. 

SO… if you’re looking for an incredible piece of non-fiction about wonderful women who have made a stamp in art history, you should probably consider giving this a check out. 

Who is your favourite artist?
What kind of art is your favourite?
Do you have a secret bookish passion?

Talk to me in the comments! A massive thank you to the publishers, Thames and Hudson, for sending me a copy of this book. You guys are amazing: inspiring a new generation of artists! 

S x