BOOK BLOG: S.A. Patrick

A Darkness of Dragons: a brilliant adventure!

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“After playing a forbidden spell-song to save a village from rats, 12-year-old piper Patch Brightwater is thrown in jail. But there he meets Wren – a noble girl under a rat-shaped curse – and together they befriend Barver, a fearsome dracogriff, and set off on a grand adventure filled with sorcerers, dragons, bandits…and one very deadly enemy.
From the depths of the Tiviscan dungeons to the highest peak of Gemspar Mountain, this stunning book reminds us of the soaring joy of adventure, the captivating danger of magic, and of the delight of finding friends in unexpected places.”

The brilliant humans of Usborne sent me a copy of A Darkness of Dragons a while back, but I’ve been in a bit of a state of reader’s block (as I explained in my November wrap up post). I’ve just been unable to read/do anything bookish of late… blame it on tiredness/SAD/general life. I read the first five chapters of this before said reader’s block started. Then, on Saturday, I picked this back up and within the space of a few hours I had CONSUMED the whole thing – that’s how good it is! 

This book is based in the world of the Pied Piper of Hamelin (which for me made my heart SO SO HAPPY – I love when books are based around traditional tales. If someone could write a book like this based on Rumplestiltskin, that would be incredible! I am a massive Rumplestiltskin fan!). Obviously, the Pied Piper is a terrible man and in this world, pipers are well loved and respected people. I loved the world of the pipers – the thought that music and magic were very much intertwined was a sheer delight to read. This was one of those books that once I was there, I was immersed in the world. I was walking through the forest with Patch and co. It’s an incredible world to be part of too… although I don’t know that I’d survive ha!

As well as this book being an incredible adventure, a young man, his dragon friend, his rat friend and an adventure to save their world, it features some absolutely incredible characters. Patch (the main character) is an incredibly brave and somewhat stubborn protagonist that I think kids will absolutely adore. Throw in Wren, a brilliant young girl who has been hexed into being a rat, and an incredibly sarcastic and dry dracogriff in the mix and you have this excellent bunch of characters who I just wanted more from. (I can’t wait for book 2 because I am a SUCKER for sequels!)

There’s some brilliant themes of friendship in this story. Unexpected friendships particularly. I loved the friendship that grew between Patch and Wren in particular. It showed that friends are there to support and guide each other through everything. These friends don’t have it easy, but they stick through the thick and the thin with each other! I mean, how many friends would stick by you when you’re thrown into one of the worst prisons imaginable?!

I think this book is going to go down a STORM at school. I can’t wait to hand it to some of the readers in my class. 

Have you read A Darkness of Dragons?
Can you think of a story you’d love to see revived?
Would you like a dragon friend?

Talk to me! Send me a dragon… please… someone?! Massive thanks to Usborne for sending me a copy!

S x 

BOOK BLOG: April Tucholke

The Boneless Mercies: a beautifully brilliant book!

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“Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are Boneless Mercies – death-traders, hired to kill quickly, quietly and mercifully. It is a job for women, and women only. Men will not do this sad, dark work. Frey has no family, no home, no fortune, and yet her blood sings a song of glory. So when she hears of a monster slaughtering men, women, and children in a northern jarldom, she decides this the Mercies’ one chance to change their fate. But glory comes at a price …”

ANY book that has this gorgeous a cover is SURE to catch my eye. Just look at that turquoise, the black and the foil… and yes, that gold is metallic and shiny (my picture just does it NO justice at all). I had high hopes for a book with such an incredible cover, and my gosh, this book did not disappoint. 

The Boneless Mercies tells the tale of Frey, her friends and a journey through some wicked and wild enemies. Frey and her friends are Boneless Mercies – young women who are hired by people to do mercy killings for anyone who can pay. None of these girls fell into being a Mercy on purpose, they all became mercies because of the way their lives fell into place. No matter though, they are frightfully loyal to each other and there is an awful lot of love between them. I think they friendship might be one of the things I loved most about this book… their unrelenting loyalty and love for each other. We all need friends like that. 

There’s some BRILLIANT themes of life and death in this story. The way that death is approached in this story was fascinating to read. There’s no glorification of death, but a gentle acceptance of it and a giving of death. I loved the girls’ dedication to their jobs, even when they don’t want to do that job anymore. 

Another thing I love SO MUCH about books is the incorporation of folk stories and myths (I know, what a surprise, I’ve definitely typed that sentence before) and this book doesn’t shy away from it. There’s a lovely sense of storytelling in this story. “Storytelling can keep you warm on the coldest of nights” (that’s not a direct quote, but it’s paraphrasing a quote!) You see the girls’ lives and the lives of the ones they meet through their storytelling, and it made me feel like I was sat by a fire, listening. This is the perfect book to read while sitting next to a fire… just incase you want a recommendation! 

I have to take a very little moment here to write a little appreciation for Trigve here. I don’t wanna give any spoilers, but guys. I think he’s just wonderful. If there is to be a book 2, I need my shipper heart to be happy, thanks! 

I’m not gonna lie, yes, there was a bit when I cried (again, no one will be shocked by this!). This book made me 100% invested in these girls’ lives, and I needed them all to keep powering on, keep surviving. Cause I tell you now… I WOULD NOT. In the cold and the snow and the outside all the time? NO THANKS. 

If you, like me, are a lover of books with BRILLIANT characters, some incredible storytelling and set in an intriguing world, then this is 100% the book for you! GO GO GO FRIENDS.

My Goodreads review:

A brilliantly written book with characters I absolutely adored. There was so much in this that I need time to process it. Badass characters, a sense of mythology and an interesting world. I REALLY hope there’s going to be a second one.

Have you read The Boneless Mercies?
Do you think you’d be a good Mercy killer?
RECOMMEND ME BOOKS LIKE THIS PLZ. Thanks.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments, because I need to know if ANYONE ELSE was with me on the Trigve thing. I love him. A massive thank you to Olivia at Simon and Schuster for senging me this book! I wholeheartely loved it! 

S x 

 

BOOK BLOG: Sam Usher

Snow: the perfect addition to your shelves for the wintery season!

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“Every child loves a snow day—no school and snowball fights galore! But Sam has to wait for Granddad, even though all the other kids have already gone to the park . . . and all the dogs . . . and all the zoo animals! Only when the two finally arrive does Granddad see why Sam was in such a hurry—and they have the best time playing with everyone in the snow.”

As a massive fan of the book Storm, when I saw there was another Sam Usher book (with a very festive snowy theme) I knew I needed to treat myself to it! I mean, just look at that cover. Who wouldn’t want to know more about the penguin casually strolling down their street? 

Snow tells the story of a very impatient young boy who wants to go out into the snow, while his grandfather thinks they should stay in for a little while. There’s so much joy in the young man’s face when he sees the snow. We’ve all been there. Wanting to be the first one to stand on snow – is there anything more irresistable than a patch of freshly fallen snow? 

When they do eventually get outside, they wander down to the park and end up having an awful lot of fun with a new bunch of friends. It’s all a bit silly, but this would make a perfect readaloud. Kids will love this story. What’s more fun than snow ball fights? Snowball fights with animals… obviously! 

With gorgeous illustrations, characters who are realistic and a brilliant portrayal of family (I loved seeing this story of a young man and his grandfather, rather than a mam/dad or sibling), this book is going to be a great one to read aloud to kids (and adults alike!). I am loving this Weather series from Sam Usher and can’t wait to get even more! I would recommend wholeheartedly getting on the series! I own Snow and Storm so far, I need to check out Rain and Sun. 

Have you read any of Sam Usher’s books?
What’s your perfect wintery read aloud?
Are you a snow lover, or not a fan?

Let me know your thoughts! Speak to you soon… fingers crossed the snow stays away! I don’t want to run into a bunch of animals throwing snowballs at me! 

S x

 

BOOK BLOG: David Long

Egypt Magnified: the perfect book for any Egypt loving bookworm! 

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“Grab your magnifying glass and explore the sights and sounds of ancient Egypt in this fascinating search-and-find adventure, packed with over 200 things to spot.”

When I was approached by the publishers as to whether I would like a copy of this book for review, I knew instantly that I would ABSOLUTELY LIKE A COPY FOR REVIEW. I am constantly on the lookout for engaging and brilliant non-fiction books. We all know that non-fiction books of the past could be dull and just collect dust… but recently non-fiction books are becoming more and more desirable. And this book does not disappoint! This would make the perfect Christmas gift for any non-fiction loving wannabe historian in your life! 

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Egypt Magnified comes with a brilliant magnifying glass so you can play a “Where’s Wally?” type game in the book. With sections covering everything from The Nile and The Desert to Tutankhamun’s Tomb, this book is just brilliant. (Why yes, I did in fact take about half an hour of my time when this arrived to play with the magnifying glass… unfortunately, I never was any good at Where’s Wally!)

With gorgeous illustrations by Harry Bloom and JAM PACKED with facts, this book is educational and fun – a perfect mix! I learned a fair few things when I gave this book a read… and I’ve taught the Egyptians before! Each page is about a different topic, and along the top is the “10 things to spot” section. The pages are filled with information, illustration and intrigue! 

I can’t recommend this book enough – to parents, teachers, librarians and ANYONE ELSE. It has such a brilliant place in homes, schools and libraries. I can’t wait to pass it on to Year 4 for when they study the Egypians – I just know it’s going to go down SO well. (So well in fact, I’m jealous that they get to have it! If there could be a Greek edition, that’d be awesome!)

What period in history would you most like to delve deeper into?
What’s your favourite type of non-fiction book?
Can you recommend me any new non-fiction books?

A massive massive thank you to the publishers over at Quarto for sending me this absolute delight! 

S x 

Wrap up time!

This could be wrap up because cold, or wrap up because it’s time for MINI REVIEWS! If you’re here looking for a scarf appreciation post, you’ll need to come back next week *wink*

So… what have I read recently?

Today I’m going to give a wrap up of some of the MG books I read last month! I am loving doing mini reviews at the minute! 

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A Chase in Time – Sally Nicholls

The old gilt-edged mirror has hung in Alex’s aunt’s house for as long as he can remember. Alex hardly notices it, until the day he and his sister are pulled through the mirror, back into 1912. It’s the same house, but a very different place to live, and the people they meet need their help. Soon they are caught up in an action-packed adventure, solving a crime, rescuing priceless jewels, and eating more cake than they have ever eaten before.

This is a brilliant tale of time travel, learning about the past and a bit of doing what’s right! With incredible characters and an engaging story, this book is going down a storm in the classroom! I really enjoyed this! The characters, the historical elements and the magical mirror give it a feel of a classic story. This would make a brilliant read aloud in the class. I am truly hoping there’s going to be a second book!

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Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters – Andrea Beaty

Rosie Revere is no stranger to flops and fails, kerfuffles and catastrophes. After all, engineering is all about perseverance! But this time, Rosie has a really important project to tackle—one that feels much bigger than herself. Rosie’s beloved Aunt Rose and her friends, the Raucous Riveters—a group of fun-loving gals who built airplanes during World War II—need help inventing something new. And Rosie is just the engineer for the job! After one flop . . . then another . . . and another . . . Rosie starts to lose hope. But thanks to some help from her fellow Questioneers Iggy Peck and Ada Twist, Rosie gets the job done. And, along with the Riveters, she rediscovers the meaning of home.

This book is just LUSH. Helping people and having fun is such a brilliant thing to read about! It also has incredible depictions of women and children in engineering, the importance of family and lovely messages about not giving up when something goes wrong. I really REALLY loved this. I think it’d be the perfect addition for any classroom or home library!

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Isadora Moon Makes Winter Magic – Harriet Muncaster

Isadora Moon is special because she’s different. Her mum is a fairy and her dad is a vampire and she’s a bit of both. Isadora loves playing in the snow, especially when her creations come to life! But snow magic can’t last forever. Will she be able to save her new friends before they melt away? 

As a big fan of Isadora Moon (and knowing that the kids at school are) I was very excited to get the chance to read this book! From the incredible cover, to the brilliant illustrations, this book is lots of fun. The short chapters and perfect for younger readers and the back is filled with fun snow-y things to do. The story is fun and the characters are all great. A perfect wintry tale!

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Max The Detective Cat: The Phantom Portrait – Sarah Todd Taylor

Max is ready to solve another case! The entire theatre company have travelled to Lord Fawley’s castle to put on a show for his daughter’s Halloween birthday ball! Rehearsals start well, but soon some ghostly goings-on and talk of a family curse have the actors in a panic. Never fear – Max the detective cat is on the case, and his whiskers are prickling with suspicion that these strange events have more to do with jewels than ghouls…

Having read the first book and falling greatly for Max, I was very excited to read this second book! Yet again Max comes along with the help of his brilliant friend Oscar to save the day. This book is a bit spookier than the first one, with ghostly goings on, missing diamonds and a creepy theatre. It’s perfect for children who are reading shorter chapter books! If you need a heroic cat, look no further than Max! 

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The Boy Who Lived With Dragons – Andy Shepherd

Having your own dragon is magical – but Tomas is also about to find out what living with a dragon is REALLY like. When the fire-breathing kicks in and you get singed every five seconds, it’s like having an unpredictable volcano in your pocket. Learning to train the dragons and keep them out of trouble at school and home will take all Tomas’s creativity and patience … What is more, the dragonfruit tree is starting to look droopy and unwell. Tomas and his friends have got to do all they can restore it to health and uncover its deepest mysteries, as well as trying to work out what big secret local bully Liam, ‘King of Trouble’, has got up his sleeve … One thing is for sure, life is never dull when you have a dragon in your pocket.

This is another one, where I’d read the first book, utterly adored it and it’s gone to school never to be seen again (because the kids are loving it!) Book 2 didn’t fail me either. This is a great sequel to the first book – I really enjoyed this. The young Steph in me loves these books. They’re brilliantly fun capers about the importance of friendship and being kind. With lovely messages about telling the truth and being kind, these books are spot on for Y3+. I also definitely want a dragon now.

Have you read any of these brilliant MG books?
Can you recommend anything similar for me?
Do you enjoy a wrap up?
What’s your true opinion on scarves?

Speak to me! Leave me a comment! Send me a dragon! Send a message through a magic mirror! 

S x

BOOK BLOG: Emma Yarlett

Dragon Post: a whole lot of fun and friendship! 

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I’d seen this on my friend’s Instagram and as I’m a lover of The Day The Crayons Quit and the trusty The Jolly Postman, I knew I needed to get my hands on this book. With beautiful letters inside and an endearing young main character, Dragon Post was an absolute delight to read! 

Alex finds a dragon living under his stairs and knows that the most sensible thing to do would be to write to different people to get their advice on the whole situation. (Alex is very sensible, in my opinion! I don’t know what I would do!)

This is where the humour for adults comes in. There’s puns a plenty with the names of the people Alex writes letters to. I read this book aloud to my mam, and she and I had many a chuckle! Not all of the letters are positive… with one suggesting that the writer of the letter would like to eat the dragon. Most of the letters Alex receives give him good advice however! 

The final letter Alex writes is to his best friend (who he calls one of the best people he knows) and I absolutely adored this! I love the idea that the person Alex thinks is the smartest person in his world is another child – I think this can have quite a profound effect on kids. The very last letter Alex receives is from a very special someone indeed and I know kids are going to ADORE seeing the letter to Alex! 

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This book, just like The Day The Crayons Quit and The Jolly Postman, is going to be taken in my classrooms and children alike. With the inclusion of the letters, the incredible illustrations and the brilliant story, this is one that will inspire writers of letters, stories and illustrations (I only wish I could come up with something this brilliant!) I can see this working in so many houses, minds and ways. As a Y5 teacher, I’d love to use this book, but it equally has a very important place in every classroom. I know the KS1 teachers in school will love this book… and I can’t wait to read it to Reception for their Advent Story time! 

Would you like a dragon as a pet?
Have you read Dragon Post? 
Who would you write to if you found a dragon under your bed?

Speak to you all soon!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Christopher Lloyd

Absolutely Everything: the perfect book for non-fiction lovers with an insatiable need for facts!

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“Embark on an amazing journey across millennia and continents, and learn about absolutely everything including the creation of planet Earth, the age of dinosaurs, the rise of humans, the miserable medieval times, globalisation, wars, revolutions, technology – and much more! Find out the answers to many big questions about our planet, animals, and the people inhabiting Earth. Engaging design, illustrations and photographs throughout bring to life the most remarkable true stories of all time.”

Absolutely Everything is an incredible collection of all of the facts you could POSSIBLY think of, illustrated so beautifully and told in chronological order. This book would make the perfect gift for a budding historian for Christmas. Told through interesting chapters, with a timeline to match each chapter, including a glossary and an index for those who have specific questions, this is definitely the one to want! 

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Now, I’m not a great historian, so I’ve been reading bits of this and it is genuinely brilliant. It’s told in a fun and engaging way. There’s illustrations and diagrams aplenty. It’s nothing like those history textbooks we learned from – it’s so much more than that! This is perfect for adults and kids alike! 

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The book opens to a gorgeously written contents page showing you all of the chapters and what they entail… the each chapter has a gorgeously vibrant and illustrated front page (the chapter pages might be one of my favourite things about this book!) The illustrations, by Andy Forshaw, are just lush and I think they add so much intrigue and interest to this book.

There’s history from many centuries ago, to the final chapter titled “To be continued…” which looks at what the future might hold. I love the little robot – he’s well cute! Each chapter is a different colour and the edges of the pages are coloured that way to match (this might seem like a simple thing, but I think it’s great for kids!)

There’s illustrations like these (above) all through the book – diagrams, maps, illustrations, photographs – and these add so much to the words that make up the story. As someone who loves a good picture, they make this book so much more enjoyable and therefore so much more is learned. With every question it answers, it probes you to ask more… isn’t that what we all want? To keep learning forever!

Whether you’re a budding historian, or just a bit obsessed with facts, this is the perfect present, especially with Christmas coming up!

If you could go back in time, where would you go to?
Are you a little bit of a secret historian?
What’s part of history that fascinates you most?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Lara Hawthorne

Silent Night: the classic, beautifully illustrated!

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“Celebrate the magic of Christmas with this beautifully illustrated book, based on the world’s best-loved carol. Rediscover the Nativity Story in all its glory—from quaking shepherds to heaven-sent angels—as the song lyrics are brought to life on every spread. The world’s diversity is reflected in a cast of characters with a range of skin tones. A gorgeous book for all the family to share during the festive season.”

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Christmas is coming and what’s more perfect than one of the greatest Christmas carols beautifully illustrated? Silent Night is one of those classics that everyone knows. I even know the chorus and the first verse in German (I’m not sure why!). I think Christmas is such a lovely time of year and music is an important part of that. 

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Silent Night has been beautifully illustrated in this book, with the lyrics of the book broken into little scenes of the night that Jesus was born. The book features the key people in the Christmas story – angels, shepherds, Mary, Joseph, kings and the stable! 

This book is going to be SO perfect to use at school. Whether kids know the song or not, it is a brilliantly simple, yet beautiful, way to teach them the story of Christmas. 

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I also love that it comes with this information page in the back all about the song. Great for older children to find out more about the song. This could inspire some of your KS2 kids to make their own book of a Christmas song and write their own “about the carol” page. 

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This would make the perfect Christmas present. I already know it’s going to go down brilliantly at school. 

A massive thank you to the wonderful Quarto for sending me a copy of this book! I do now however want to start singing Christmas songs… (but not yet… I can’t until after Halloween!)

Silent Night is out now! 

Do you have a favourite Christmas song?
Is Silent Night up there in your top 10?
What’s your Christmas rules?

Talk to me! Which carol would you like to see made into a book?!

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Matt Haig

The Truth Pixie: poetic, charming and inspiring.

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“From number one bestselling author Matt Haig comes a hilarious and heartwarming story, brilliantly illustrated throughout by Chris Mould Wherever she is, whatever the day, She only has one kind of thing to say. Just as cats go miaow and cows go moo, The Truth Pixie can only say things that are true.”

Anyone who has been here for a while will know that I am a MASSSSSSIVE Matt Haig fan (he’s probably one of my most read authors). I’d heard whispers of a new kids book a few months ago and this made me so happy! The Truth Pixie just seems to have shot up on me and come in no time at all, but I am so glad it’s in my life! 

The Truth Pixie tells the story of a young pixie who was blessed/cursed with only being able to tell the truth. She has very few friends because no one wants to hear the truth. Her family don’t want to know her because of her truth-telling, so she lives alone and dreads going out into the wide world. One day, when shopping for groceries, she comes across a troll who changes everything for her. (He’s not a nice troll…)

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I think my favourite thing about this book is that it delivers quite a few MASSIVE messages to kids in ways that they’re going to understand. If you’ve ever read one of Matt’s books, you’ll know they’re books that will restore your faith in humanity and this one delivers just that. It has some important messages about being yourself, being sad (and that being ok) and the truth being something that we should embrace. 

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I read The Truth Pixie aloud to myself laid in bed and it’s such a glorious one to read aloud. I might have to reread it a few times before I read it aloud to any kid though – it made me cry, quite a lot. It’s pages like these 2 above that just turn me into a bumbling mess. Adults and kids alike will love this book. It’s written in a beautifully rhyming style that made it so easy to read aloud. It’s going to be a firm favourite for me to use in the classroom – as a story, as a book with a message. The illustrations (by the incredibly talented Chris Mould) are just wonderful too. They add so much to the story. 

This book is a total victory. I will continue to champion Matt Haig books forever. This book is already on its third print run and it’s been out less than a week! 

My goodreads review:

Just incredible. I love the poetic, rhyming style of this book, the incredible illustrations and the absolute championing message of this book. I definitely cried when I read this (aloud to myself, so what of it?) because no one is too old to hear this advice, ever. Off to buy another copy for school.

(And yes, I have bought a second copy for school… one for me, one for school!)

Have you read The Truth Pixie?
Do you also love Matt Haig?
What’s your favourite book to read aloud?

Talk to me! I’d love to know your thoughts!

 S x

BOOK BLOG: David Levithan

Someday: what happens when you accept the love you never thought you could have?

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“For as long as A can remember, life has meant waking up in a different person’s body every day, forced to live as that person until the day ended. A always thought there wasn’t anyone else who had a life like this. But A was wrong. There are others.

A has already been wrestling with powerful feelings of love and loneliness. Now comes an understanding of the extremes that love and loneliness can lead to—and what it’s like to discover that you are not alone in the world.”

As one of the biggest fans of David Levithan, I knew that I needed to read this book as soon as I heard that it was coming out. For those of you who aren’t sure about this world, A never wakes up in the same body twice. Rhiannon is a young girl who A met in book 1 and their tale is one that’s stuck with me for a long time.

Immersing myself back into the magical world of A and Rhiannon again was such an incredible experience. I’d loved their story for a long time. The thought of not being the same person every day terrified me though. The thought of the person I love not being the same every day equally baffled me. Through the book, you get such an overwhelming feeling of yearning and want from both sides. They both might have “moved on” with their lives… but they still feel this invisible thread holding them together. We’ve all been there. We’ve all wanted to speak to soneone we can’t anymore. If we were given the opportunity, should we take it? Would it be any help?

Honesty time: I’m going through this a bit at the minute. There’s people from my past that I’d love to just talk to, so I know how both of them are feeling.

Different from the other books in this series, there’s another character who is like A. X is a bit more sinister, a bit more evil than A. X’s perception of what they do is different to A’s. They both come at what happens to them with different motives in mind. X is quite a desctructive force; A wants to be a positive force in these people’s lives. X scared me at times. They were everything A isn’t. My brain struggled at times to accept that there could be “bad versions” of A in this world. 

One of the things I love most about Levithan’s writing is that it makes you question so much. What is it to be human? What is it to love? Are we ever the same person every day? Don’t we all change? What is a soul? I love a book that makes me think. I love a quotable book. There’s so many passages in this book that I could quite happily go back and highlight, frame and preach forever. This one about everyone’s story just made my soul sing when I read it:

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This book was everything I wanted from it. There’s a gorgeous gentle ebb and flow of loving, missing, adjusting, accepting – just as there is in life. I felt protected and trusted this book (which could be a weird thing to say? I don’t know how else to explain it!) 

So yeah. Go read this whole series. Imagine living in A or Rhiannon’s shoes. You are already living them – you’re never the same person you were when you woke up yesterday. 

If you so fancy it, I have the ABSOLUTE honour of chairing a chat with David Levithan and Laura Steven (author of the incredible The Exact Opposite of Okay) at the end of October (30th to be exact) at Waterstones Newcastle. Come along and hear me fangirl and not know what to say to two authors I absolutely admire. It’ll be lots of fun! Tickets are only £3 can be bought here or in the shop! I’d love to see lots of friendly faces! 

S x