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! 

Sara mood board

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: Matt Haig

Hello!

Now… for those of you who are new around here, there is an important message I need you to take from today:

I am a MASSIVE Matt Haig fan.

I think he writes BRILLIANTLY. He’s one of the few authors who I read ANYTHING they release (non fiction, adult, MG). In fact, I’d go so far as to say I’ve read ALL of his books… I may even OWN them all (if not all of them, MOST of them!) I’ve reviewed quite a few of his books on here, but I recently read Evie in the Jungle (the Worls Book Day 2020 book by him) and thought this was the opportune moment to FINALLY review Evie and the Animals and Evie and the Jungle!

Evie and the Animals: a great story about the importance of kindness

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“Ten-year-old Evie has a talent. A SUPERTALENT. Evie can TALK to animals and HEAR their thoughts. Pretty amazing, isn’t it? One day at school, Evie sets Kahlo the rabbit free from her too-small cage. Evie knows she’s done A Good Thing . . . but it lands her in BIG trouble. Evie’s dad and Granny Flora say her talent is a curse; she must never use it again. Until a year later pets on her street – including Lady Gaga the cat and a hamster named Cheryl – start disappearing. Evie is determined to find them. But it’s dangerous for her to help. Because the villain has a talent of their own, and only wants to use it for evil… Can Evie save the pets before it’s too late, even if it means DARING TO BE HERSELF?”

Evie and the Animals is a gorgeous story where Dr. Dolittle meets modern day issues to do with conservationism and activism! 

Evie has a special talent: she can understand other species. She can talk to them and she can hear what they are saying. Whether it’s the dogs of the neighbourhood, the school rabbit who wants to be set free or even scarier animals, Evie can hear them and talk to them. For so long she’s been ignoring them because she doesn’t want to be different (don’t we all worry about this!?), but when they start to go missing, Evie knows she needs to do about something about it. She knows she needs to use her power to try and help. 

This book has one of those brilliant things that kids are instantly hooked into. It’s exciting and enticing – who wouldn’t like to talk to animals?! We’ve had loads of chats about what animals the children would talk to if they had Evie’s powers (with answers ranging from tigers, to worms and pets, it’s been a topic of hot debate in the classroom!)

This book is full of elements that kept me wanting to read. There’s mystery, talking animals, scary moments (scary big cats at the zoo), bad guys and powers.

Evie is a brilliant main character. She’s full of heart and gusto. She’s got a brilliant message to deliver to children about being kind and the power behind those acts of kindness. She’s caring and gentle to both the people around her and the animals she encounters. Plus, she’s on her way to solving a mystery! 

My Goodreads review of Evie and the Animals:

A lovely story about the importance of being kind (to humans AND animals), being yourself (even when everyone tells you not to be) and looking after the world. I bloody love Matt Haig SO much.

Evie and the Jungle: a new adventure into the Amazon!

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“Twelve-year-old Evie has a talent. She can HEAR what animals are thinking and she can TALK to them with her mind. When Evie goes on a trip to the Amazon rainforest, her powers are put to the test. She makes friends with pink river dolphins, must save an injured sloth, and discovers the secret life of a jaguar. Soon she sees that the jungle is in serious and deadly danger, and comes up with a rather risky plan to help save it…”

Evie in the Jungle is a wonderful addition to the Evie family of books. She’s a brilliant protagonist that children might know from the first book, but I don’t think you NEED to know her as this book stands by itself if necessary.

This second adventure takes us on a fascinating (and sometimes a little bit scary!) trip all the way to the Amazon Rainforest, where we hear about Evie’s adventures in Peru with her dad. Evie and her dad have the chance to meet all kinds of incredibly exotic animals, including an adorable sloth, some very rude monkeys and a downright rude Scarlet Macaw. They go to help save so many of these animals who are affected by the destruction of the rainforest. 

One of the things I loved about this book is that there are so many facts jam packed into it that it appeals to my wonderfully science loving class! I learned that pink dolphins exist (no, I didn’t know that!) There’s some pretty shocking facts to be learned in this book too: humans are destroying enough rainforest to fill 30 football pitches every minute; 35 species of the Amazon Rainforest become extinct every day.

This book is an exciting and fun story, with lots of very important messages about looking after our planet, being kind to each other and the importance of doing good things. It’s got wonderful messages about compassion and honesty too. It’s a perfect length for new readers without being intimidating! 

My Goodreads review:

I really enjoyed this short story about Evie, the girl who can talk to animals. It’s got important messages about saving the rainforests, the importance of nature and kindness. 

And that’s it! Completely and utterly recommend these books (and the rest of Matt Haig’s catalogue of books too, if you’re after some recommendations!)

Have you read any of Matt Haig’s books?
Can you recommend me any more books with similar messages?

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 

Mini MG wrap ups: Spooky edition

Hello!

For all it’s no where near Halloween, I’ve read a few books recently featuring spooky characters: zombies, vampires and even Bigfoot! I thought rather than not share reviews of these books, I would share mini reviews so you can all hear how bloody brilliant they all are and go out and read them yourselves!!

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Sam Wu is NOT Afraid of Zombies – Katie and Kevin Tsang

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“There’s hardly anything that Sam Wu is afraid of. Unless you count ghosts, sharks, the dark and maybe even spiders. But definitely NOT zombies. Except for actual real ones maybe. So when Sam’s arch nemesis, Ralph Zinkerman the Third announces that he has zombie werewolves living in his basement, for the first time ever, Sam really isn’t sure if he wants to be the one to save the day. Ralph has always been pretty mean to him and, well, just one little nibble from the zombie werewolves wouldn’t hurt that much, would it? Common childhood fears dealt with in a hilarious, sensitive and accessible way”

I am a massive fan of these books and this one is another brilliantly fun book in the series. These books never fail to make me smile! Sam and his gang have to work together to overcome their meanest opposition yet: scary zombies. When Sam and co think there’s a zombie hiding in the basement of Ralph’s house, he definitely isn’t afraid of it… until he has to do something about it! I loved the plans they came up with! The children all thought they were going to be eaten by the zombies and they had to work together. I love that these books show the importance of friendship and everyone being different. Plus, as ever, the illustrations by Nathan Reed make me so bloody happy!

Amelia Fang and the Naughty Caticorns – Laura Ellen Anderson

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“Amelia Fang’s mum has a baby vampire on the way! But with the Fang household completely focussed on the new arrival, no one is paying Amelia any attention. Until she is asked to look after three very mischievous caticorns who make it their business to get Amelia in a world of trouble. Now EVERYONE is watching. And not in a good way!”

Another series I am a massive fan of. Amelia and her friends are always getting up to some kind of fun and in this book they are learning what it’s like to look after things… especially when those things don’t want to listen. When Amelia and her friends just want to be helpful, they learn that looking after caticorns is a lot more trouble than they thought it would be! This book is a whole load of fun with brilliant messages about Amelia becoming a big sister. The caticorns get up to some sheer nonsense and all Amelia wants to do is a good job looking after them. The illustrations, as always by Laura Ellen Anderson her very self, are gorgeous and add so much to the story!

The Bigwoof Conspiracy – Dashe Roberts 

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“When twelve-year-old, UFO-obsessed, Lucy Sladan sneaks out in the middle of a thunderstorm to investigate the unexplained disappearances in her hometown of Sticky Pines, she finds more than she bargained for: a huge hairy creature, a thirteen-year-old stranger named Milo Fisher and a deep-rooted secret. Together, Lucy and Milo become entwined in a mystery that threatens to engulf the whole town of Sticky Pines and its weird and wonderful residents.”

I don’t get to read books about conspiracies very often, so when this showed up I was MOST intrigued. And my gosh this was a whole lot of fun. A small little town that’s being taken over by Bigfoot type monsters, a little girl who refuses to accept that the adults don’t have the answers. She comes up against a factory owner who is plying the town with sugar and begins to get suspicious. When she makes herself an unlikely ally, the two of them work together to get to the bottom of what is happening to the town she lives in and some of the people she loves most. This was gorgeously paced with some brilliant humour thrown in. I don’t think I’d like to visit… but I’d love to be Lucy’s friend! A great sci fi mystery! 

Amelia Fang and the Bookworm Gang – Laura Ellen Anderson

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“Amelia Fang is feeling anxious. Everyone in her class has to write their own stories and read them out loud to the class – but for the first time ever, Amelia has run out of ideas! And she doesn’t feel like she can ask for help. So she decides to gets some inspiration from one of the many books in Loose Limb Library. But when Amelia and her friends get there, the gang discovers big bite marks in every book! Bookworms have invaded and they chomp through EVERYTHING and EVERYONE in their path. How will Amelia save all the books – and her friends – before it’s too late?”

The second entry for Amelia Fang into this post and it’s a testament to this series! This is a special World Book Day 2020 book and I was so glad to see an Amelia Fang book on the list. As soon as I knew I could buy it, I dashed out to buy a copy for myself. This was really cute! A brilliant way to explore writers block using Amelia and some helpful bookworms! I loved the messages about asking for help and that not being a bad thing! I love this series and to have it as a WBD book makes me so happy! Plus, you can’t beat these illustrations!

And that’s it for now! Thanks for stopping by! Let me know if you’ve read any of these books, or any you’d like to read! 

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 

BOOK BLOG: Lisa Williamson

First Day Of My Life: An incredible story of secrets, lies, friendships and love. 

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First Day of My Life tells the story of 3 teenagers whose lives are very much intertwined on a day in their lives where something terrible happens: a baby goes missing. 

first day of my lifeProof copy sent from the publishers, David Fickling Books.

We meet Frankie, Jojo and Ram. Three teenagers who are celebrating the summer holidays. They’ve finished their GCSEs. The day the book starts on is actually GCSE results day. A baby goes missing. When Jojo doesn’t turn up, Frankie starts thinking the very worst. (yep, you’ve got it… she thinks her best friend has stolen the missing baby!) What follows is Frankie’s quest to find the truth, a missing baby and her best friend. There’s an awful lot of emotion and familiar faces that join the story to help her! 

The first thing I have to say is that this book is MAGNIFICENT. It’s clever. It’s heartbreaking. It’s hard to read. It’s real. It’s scary. It’s being a teenager. It’s dealing with your emotions. It’s questionable parenting and some decisions which made me SO ANGRY. It’s having secrets and telling lies. It’s needing to tell more lies to cover up the lies you told. It’s dealing with some tough things. It’s knowing who to turn to when you need help most. It’s misleading. It’s unpredictable. It’s so many emotions rolled into one incredible book. 

It’s just a really great story with incredible characters.

For anyone who is new to Lisa Williamson books, where have you been? Lisa writes in such an incredible way and her stories always punch me in the gut. I swear to you, there’s not a Lisa Williamson book I’ve not read that I haven’t cried at! Lisa does realistic contemporary novels brilliantly well and I can’t wait to read more! 

All About Mia review

The Art of Being Normal review

Paper Avalanche review

This book is written in a split perspective and I really loved it. I loved learning about how the lives of the friends were interlaced. I loved learning about the characters through each other and through their own narratives. It was really interesting being part of secrets when the other people in the story didn’t know. 

There’s some decision making by adults in this book that MADE ME SO ANGRY. I can’t really share what they are because spoilers, but just know that some of the adults in this book made me so cross. I think what makes it worse is that there is some element of realism to the decisions that the adults make. 

One of the messages I got from this book was that even when we love people, even when we think we’re looking out for the people we love, we can hurt them. Even when we don’t think we are. 

This book is full of ALL OF THE EMOTIONS. There’s love, hope, happiness, relief, love, loss, heartbreak, betrayal, sadness, reunions. 

There’s loads of moments in this book of quiet, honest love and some of love in sheer desperation. The girls love each other dearly. They want the best for each other, but when things start going a bit wrong, they don’t give up on each other. They show that it’s love and kindness that matters most. 

I loved that this book celebrated diverse family situations. Each of the 3 main characters has a different family dynamic, and while that may not seem like something worth celebrating, it totally is. It’s so important that we show people that their family matters. That there’s no one way for a family to be. 

A massive shout out here to the scene between Ram and the policeman (I can’t give any more context here because spoilers hah). It was a gentle and tough and heartbreaking scene to read. It completely broke me. I cried so so hard at that scene. There’s so much emotion in that scene on the page that it translated to many tears for me! 

My Goodreads review:

This book is all kinds of magnificent. It’s heartbreaking and tough and hard to read. It’s revelations and secrets. It’s love in so many forms. It’s doing what’s right for you even when you know it’s going to hurt the people you love. It’s hard hitting and raw at times. I love how intertwined the 3 characters are and how their stories unfolded. The 3 perspectives worked so well. The epilogue made my heart so happy. Massive shout out to the scene between Ram and the policeman: it broke my heart. Bloody bravo!

And that’s it! 

A MASSIVE MASSIVE thank you to the publishers David Fickling Books for sending me a proof copy of this incredible book. I devoured it in a matter of hours. 

Have you read any Lisa Williamson books?
Are you excited for this one?
What’s your take on split-perspective books?

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

S x 

MG round up: Magical, mysical books

I’m here with another round up of 3 MG books that I’ve read this year! I’m sticking by my pledge to review EVERY book on my blog, regardless of length, so here we go with 3 orange and blue books! 

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Otto Tattercoat and the Forest of Lost Things – Matilda Woods

“Otto lives in the frozen city of Hodeldorf, where an eternal winter has fallen. When his mother goes missing one morning, he must join forces with the Tattercoats, a gang of brave orphans, to find her. They will journey into a dark forest where witches lurk and sun dragons lie sleeping, on a heart-racing adventure that will chill you to the bone.”

As a big fan of Matilda Woods’ other books, I had high hopes for this book. PLUS the cover is GORGEOUS. A story that starts with a coat, a missing mam and a lonely boy ends with a boy who learns a lot about himself and about other people. This is a gorgeous story about the importance of friendship, hope, kindness and humanity. There’s stories within stories here and the comraderie between the Tattercoats made me so happy. There’s wickedly bad baddies in this book and it made them even more delicious. I do not wish to visit the polish factory, but I would love to be friends with Otto and his crew. This was like a proper hug in a book

Dragon Detective: Catnapped by Gareth P. Jones

“When detective Dirk Dilly gets a call from Holly, a young girl whose pet cat has gone missing, the dragon ends up with not only a new case to solve but also a self-appointed partner-in-solving-crime. And it turns out that Holly’s cat is just the beginning! As the pair hunt for clues, Dirk spots other dragons flying over the city – and not the good kind. Dirk has a hunch they might just be involved, but will he and Holly be able prevent further cat-astrophe before it’s too late?”

This was a whole load of fun! It’s a great detective book with dragon detective sleuthing done brilliantly well. There’s loads of bits where I laughed aloud at this book. This is full of jokes that kids are going to love, but it would make a great read aloud too. It tells a wonderful story about a young girl who won’t give up and a dragon who really doesn’t want her to be there. This unlikely pair end up solving a mystery about missing cats and become friends. Who knew? I mean, who wouldn’t want to be friends with a dragon who knows all the underground secrets of the dragons around the world? Totally recommend this! 

The Land of Roar by Jenny Mclachlin

“When Arthur and Rose were little, they were heroes in the Land of Roar, an imaginary world that they found in their grandad’s attic. Roar was filled with things they loved – dragons, mermaids, ninja wizards and adventure – as well as things that scared them (including a very creepy scarecrow…) Now the twins are eleven, Roar is just a memory. But when they help Grandad clean out the attic, Arthur is horrified as Grandad is pulled into the folding bed and vanishes. Is he playing a joke? Or is Roar real?”

I properly loved this book. I had heard an awful lot about it on twitter, but never got round to picking it up… when I did, I instantly regretted waiting so long to pick it up! It was so much of what I loved about stories: brilliant storytelling, gorgeous characters and an interesting plot! Plus, there’s a whole load of magic, which instantly makes me happy. I loved that this book talked about the importance of play and using your imagination. There’s some gorgeous explorations of the relationship between the siblings in this book which I loved reading (as someone who has a close with her sibling). This book has a pretty scary baddy, but there’s a massive host of good guys to make it all ok! I can’t wait for book 2… I don’t wanna have to wait til June for it

And there you have it! Another round up of some smashing kids books! 

Have you read any of these books?
ARE YOU EXCITED FOR LAND OF ROAR 2 TOO?
Can you recommend me any more magical books please?

Talk to me in the comments. I’d love your magical recommendations!

S x