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

Top 10 MG books of the year

We have made it to that time of a year (well a NEW year) where I have to make that IMPOSSIBLE decision where I share my FAVOURITE books of the year just gone. 

Anyone who knows me, knows that this is a HARD thing for me to do.

I love reading. I love books. I love stories. I love characters. I love exploring new worlds. I love meeting new villains. I love clever, fiesty plots and puzzles. Stories make me a very happy girl indeed. 

I don’t know why I put myself through this decision every year, but every year I do. This list is not a definitive list at all. You could ask me again in a week’s time and there may be one or two changes. But I am fairly confident in this list. I read some ABSOLUTE bangers in 2019. I fell in love with lots of different characters, settings, villains, plots and plot twists. I’m a VERY lucky duck. 

However, you’re not here to listen to me ramble on… so here we have it:

My top 10 MG books I read in 2019

(I say read in 2019 because 1 of them is out in 2020)

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WOAH. There you have it. They’re not in any particular order.

Looking at that list of books and thinking this is the best of the best tells me that I read some ABSOLUTE SMASHERS last year.

 The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson

Storytelling at its very finest. Brilliant characters, beautiful worlds, exciting adventures and powerful messages. I just adored this. Yanka is a character that kids and adults will adore, and relate to! You can’t beat a bit of finding yourself and your people (or animals) with a good bit of story woven together. Just bloody brilliant.

Against all Gods by Maz Evans 

An incredibly heartbreaking and heartwarming way to finish this series. I 100% wept for the last 30 pages or so. This book is HILARIOUS. It’s interesting. It’s cool. It’s everything you want in the last book of a series. IM JUST SO SAD ITS OVER. Elliot is the bravest of souls and i just think he’s wonderful.

Jemima Small versus the Universe by Tamsin Winter

This book is a rip-roaring revelation. I adored it so so much. Meet Jemima Small, a young girl who is anything but small. She’s big and people like to pick on her for it. I loved this because it didn’t shy away from the truth about being a young, fat kid. You do get bullied, people do say things, you do get looks. I have been Jemima. I can’t wait to put this in the hands of so many young people and tell them you can be whoever you want because you are PERFECT just the way you are. Absolutely magnificent.

High Rise Mystery by Sharna Jackson

A BRILLIANT detective book for kids. It’s interesting, funny and has characters you’ll love. I am so glad there’s going to be more because I genuinely could’ve kept going.

The Truth Pixie Goes To School by Matt Haig

A gorgeously written story about the power of friendship, truth and lies. I love these books so much. This is going to be something I read and use in the classroom for years to come!

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

This book is gritty, determined and shocking at times. I just thought it was incredible. A gripping story about a young boy who is running from his past and ends up in more trouble. Along comes someone who believes in him and things start to change. Bloody yes. This book is a proper victory.

Owen and the Soldier by Lisa Thompson

Really bloody enjoyed this. Owen is a BRILLIANT MC and this story is proper touching. Man, I’m definitely not in bed crying… NOPE.

The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D.Lapinski (released in 2020)

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!

Frostheart by Jamie Littler

GUYS. This is exceptional. It’s fun, daring, dangerous and cool. I absolutely loved my journey on Frostheart with Ash and the crew. A proper icy cold ride, with a massive heart. The illustrations throughout add so much too. Absolute smasher!

Pages and Co 2: Tilly and the Lost Fairytales by Anna James

Wonderfully brave Tilly is on another brilliant, book-loving filled adventure with some familiar faces from fairy tales. If you’ve not picked up these books yet, you absolutely should. I wish I was Tilly’s friend.

And there you go. My 10 favourite MG reads of 2019. 

2019 was an absolutely cracking year for MG books and I could EASILY have had a completely different list. I recommend whole heartedly each and every single book on that list though. 

What were your favourite MG books of 2019?
Do you, like me, struggle to put together a top 10 list?
Have you read all of the books on my list?

I’d love to know your thoughts! MG books are a proper passion of mine so I love talking about them to anyone who will engage with me!

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 

Monday MG Mini Reviews

Hello friends! 

How are you all? I hope you had a lovely weekend! I had a wodnderful time celebrating the wedding of one of my loveliest humans, then on Sunday I had a date with my book and breakfast before doing a bit of work and a bit of blogging! Gotta keep those blog posts coming for all you guys. As I write this, I’m listening to Gareth Gates (I know, I’m a cool kid) and sitting in my pyjamas – yay for Sundays!

I’ve read A FAIR FEW brilliant MG books recently and I thought I would share some mini reviews with you all, until I have time to write full, in-depth reviews. I love writing mini reviews because it means I get to share LOADS of books in one post and not just one! All of these books will get a full review, but I couldn’t hold in my thoughts on them any longer! Without further ado…

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The Star Outside My Window – Onjali Q. Rauf

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“On her tenth birthday, Sophie makes a wish — a wish for her mum. After school that same day, Sophie and her brother are rushed out of school and driven far, far away. So Sophie sets out to find out the truth — about the wish and about what happened to her mother. And in doing so she ends up on an adventure she never could have foreseen…one that involves a very clever squirrel, a homeless man named Harry, the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, and the biggest star in Hollywood…”

I picked this book up on the buy one, get one half price table of Waterstones Newcastle and it just kept shouting to be read, so I needed to pick it up. It tells the amazing story of young Sophie who is in desperate need to remember her mam. She knows her mam is the brightest star in the sky, and she needs the star to be named after her mam. This book is full of adventure, friendship and fun, while being moving and charming. The characters are all so bloody wonderful. I finished this on the metro going to my friend’s house and I just had to cry quietly. It’s just wonderful. Some tough issues dealt with beautifully and I can see why it’s been so popular! I devoured the last 100 pages very quickly because I needed to know. Gripping, heartbreaking and filled with love.

Look Both Ways – Jason Reynolds

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“Parents, siblings, teachers, coaches, nosy neighbours, babysitters – there’s not much of your day that isn’t dictated by someone else. Unless you walk home from school – walkers have independence – those fifteen-minutes from school to home, completely unsupervised. What waits for them is the mischief of curiosity, allies and enemies, a taste of freedom, and plenty of humour.”

If you’ve been here for a while, you will know that I am a MASSIVE MASSIVE fan of Knights Of and Jason Reynolds’ books. Ghost and Patina are two of the most incredible books I’ve read recently and I can’t wait for the rest of the series because they have my heart entirely. When I heard there was a new Jason Reynolds book coming out, I was DESPERATE to get it. The brilliant humans of Ed PR sent me a copy and it just made my total half term. This book is a wonderful anthology of stories of the walk home from school. Told from 10 different perspectives, with a thread of commanality running through the stories, this book just is full of personality, charm and love. Jason Reynolds keeps writing absolute winners. This book is jam packed with gorgeous characters and I adored each of them. I’d love to know more about all of them (and that’s the true sign of an amazing book). The friendship, the love, the sense of community in the book gave me such warm vibes. The stories are the perfect length and I think this would make an absolutely wonderful read aloud to my class.

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Frostheart – Jamie Littler

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“Way out in the furthest part of the known world, a tiny stronghold exists all on its own, cut off from the rest of human-kin by monsters that lurk beneath the Snow Sea. There, a little boy called Ash waits for the return of his parents, singing a forbidden lullaby to remind him of them… and doing his best to avoid his very, VERY grumpy yeti guardian, Tobu.But life is about to get a whole lot more crazy-adventurous for Ash. When a brave rescue attempt reveals he has amazing magical powers, he’s whisked aboard the Frostheart, a sleigh packed full of daring explorers who could use his help. But can they help him find his family…?”

This was another book that I picked up because it was in the BOGOHP deal at Waterstones Newcastle (it was Children’s Book of the Month at the time… in fact it was CBOTM for 2 months!). Everything about this book just spoke to me. It was a little bit magic, fantasy, a massive adventure and even a bit of learning on the way. This book just warmed everything about my heart. It’s one of those incredible books that comes along and I just didn’t want to leave the world. The characters, the illustrations, the adventure, the messages: it’s all just SPOT ON. This book deserves all of the love that it is getting. If you haven’t read it yet, please, please do! It is exceptional. It’s fun, daring, dangerous and cool. I absolutely loved my journey on Frostheart with Ash and the crew. A proper icy cold ride, with a massive heart. The illustrations throughout add so much too. Absolute smasher! I’ve already shared this with a few of the kids at school and it is going down a proper storm. PLUS, knowing that book 2 is on its way makes me SO BLOODY HAPPY – you all know I love a series!

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Tilly and the Lost Fairytales – Anna James

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“Tilly Pages is a bookwanderer; she can travel inside books, and even talk to the characters she meets there. But Tilly’s powers are put to the test when fairytales start leaking book magic and causing havoc… On a wintery visit to Paris, Tilly and her best friend Oskar bravely bookwander into the land of fairytales to find that characters are getting lost, stories are all mixed-up, and mysterious plot holes are opening without warning. Can Tilly work out who, or what, is behind the chaos so everyone gets their happily-ever-after?”

I read the first Pages and Co book last year (I think) and I fell in love with it instantly (you can find my review for that book here). It’s one of those special kind of books which shares the love of books, stories and the bookish world with us. Tilly has magical bookwandering powers that we would all want if we’re being honest! I absolutely adored that it took me to Paris and I got to explore Paris as well as exploring fairytales. I loved that. The infusion of many fairytales in Tilly’s story just enriched the whole thing. Anna has a wonderful writing style – you’re looked after, but there’s always a slight sense of danger. There’s fun, there’s friendship, there’s some dastardly actions. There’s loads of talking points in this too. Lots of tangents that you could go down to talk about! The characters in these books are my absolute love. Wonderfully brave Tilly is in another brilliant, book-loving filled adventure with some familiar faces from fairy tales. If you’ve not picked up these books yet, you absolutely should. I wish I was Tilly’s friend. (I wish I was Tilly to be fair… she lives in a bookshop, she’s got magical powers and she’s surrounded by some of the best people ever!)

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Right, that’s it for now! This turned into a longer post than I thought it would, but I just adored these books and it’s only fair that they all get some time and space on this here blog! 

Have you read any of these books?
Are you a fan of a mini review?
What are you reading at the minute?

Shout me some recommendations… I can never have too many! 

Speak to you all soon!

S x 

BLOG TOUR: International Yeti Collective

Morning friends and yeti alike! 

How are we all?

Today we have a post with double the whammy… author content and a book review in one go! How very lucky are you all? 

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As part of the blog tour for International Yeti Collective by Paul Mason, I was invited to share my thoughts on the book as well as share some of Paul’s top tips for how to make a change in the world. I always love when an author has the good of the world on their radar. I think it’s such an important thing to care about… if there were no world, there’d be no readers, no books and no way to spread bookish love! 

Small steps for big change: Your top 5 tips

  1. Food waste across the world creates a huge amount of climate-changing gases. Help your family plan the menu, and shop for just the things you need.
  2. On the same note: start a school compost heap, worm farm or Bokashi bin for your green waste and food scraps. Keep them out of the landfill and turn them into something useful for the garden.
  3. Encourage your parents to buy keep cups for coffee. Use a re-usable drinking bottle for water.
  4. Take string bags to the supermarket for your fruit and veg.
  5. Remember to do what you can, whenever you can. There is a proverb: if you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.

I love these tips because they’re just little things we can do to make a massive difference in the world that we live on! 

The International Yeti Collective: adventure, unlikely friendship and a whole host of fun!

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“Ella is in the Himalayas with her uncle searching for yeti. But what seems like the adventure of a lifetime is cut short when she realizes that these secretive creatures might not want to be found. Tick knows it’s against yeti law to approach humans. So when some arrive on the mountain, why does he find himself peering through the trees to get a closer look? What Tick doesn’t know is that his actions will set off a series of events that threaten the existence of yeti all over the world. What can he do to make things right? Just when all hope seems lost, help comes in the most unexpected form…”

As soon as I heard about this book, I knew I needed it in my life. An adventure through the mountains to look for yeti? A brave little girl who finds out secrets? Yes please. I waited very patiently for this to arrive in my house and as soon as it arrived I was besotted. It took me a little while to read because I didn’t want it to be over! 

Yeti Collective follows the story of Ella, a young girl who is spending her time off school with her Uncle Jack (a nature documentary maker). He’s been hunting for yeti for years but has had no success yet… but that’s all about to change. While in the Himalayas, Ella starts dreaming about seeing these elusive and secretive creatures for herself, but she ends up doing a lot more than just seeing them! It’s up to Ella to have to try and save them from humans, and maybe from her very own family! 

This book is also told from the perspective of Tick, a young yeti who never really felt like he fit in with his yeti group. His mum was banished for being too curious about humans. Tick has gained his mother’s curiosity and when he spots Ella, he knows he needs to find out more. When the elders in his yeti community find out about his betrayal of one of their most important rules, Tick is himself pulled in front of them. Just like his mam, Tick is banished from the sett and this brings about one of the wildest and most wonderful adventures of his life. One that’s going to make Tick’s and Ella’s worlds collide. One which is going to see Tick becoming an unlikely hero. 

Ella is a wonderful main character. She’s brave and feisty. She shows that being curious and kind is important. She shows us that it’s important to look after the world, even if everyone around you is screaming for you to think of themselves first. Tick shows us that it’s never too late to stand up for yourself and that friendship is important.  These two characters are surrounded by wonderful, and sometimes not so wonderful, influences and how they live out their story is one that’s gorgeous to read. 

I absolutely adored this book. It’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s kind, it’s really bloody cleverly written. The names of the yeti in this story kept me constantly chuckling. I didn’t realise I’d get so emotionally invested in this book as I did. It’s one of those worlds where being lost in it feels like you’re experiencing something for the first time. I really loved the illustrations throughout from Katy Riddell too! We all know I love a good picture to add to a story, so seeing these dotted throughout the story made my heart so happy. 

My Goodreads review:

This is a proper adventure. Humans searching for Yeti; a young yeti trying desperately to hide his curiosity and ambition to find his mam; a trip around the world. I can not wait for more! I loved all of the little jokes in the Yeti names in particular.

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A massive massive thank you to publishers Stripes for inviting me to be on this blog tour and for sending me a review copy of the book. It’s books like this that make me so glad to be reading kids books! Go check out the rest of the blog tour because there are so many gorgeous posts already! Plus, it’s publication day tomorrow! Go out and buy this book and go on a yeti adventure yourself!

Would you be a good yeti hunter?
What would you do if you set eyes on something that’s never been seen before?
What tips do you have for looking after our world?

Talk to me. I’d love to put together a post full of tips for being more eco-friendly!

S x 

 

BLOG TOUR: Christopher Pumpkin

Hi pals!

Today is an exciting day! Today I’m part of the Christopher Pumpkin blog tour and I’m sharing with you my perfect Halloween playlist! I loved the idea of doing something a little bit different when I was emailed from the publishers… and naturally the playlist was the first thing I wanted to grab! 

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Christopher Pumpkin is the latest book from Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet, illustrated by Nick East publishes with us this week. This book is the absolutely adorable and brilliant. Chris is the one pumpkin from a witch’s enchanted patch who goes rogue when helping with party planning. When seeking assistance from her pumpkin patch the witch gets lots of spooky and slimy support from all except Chris… Chris loves all things pink, glittery and fluffy. Readers see how Chris makes the party planning his own, creating the scariest party the witch and her friends have seen yet!

I’ve already bought a copy of this for school to go in our Spooky Reads display in our library! 

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So… a Halloween playlist?! While I’m not the biggest Halloween fan, I love a good playlist, so I’ve put together 10 songs that I think are PERFECT for any Halloween party!

  • Thriller by Michael Jackson (obv)
  • Disturbia by Rihanna
  • Time Warp – Rocky Horror Picture Show
  • Black Magic – Little Mix
  • Dark Horse – Katy Perry
  • Bring Me To Life – Evanescence
  • Superstition – Stevie Wonder
  • Ghostbusters Theme Song
  • Judas – Lady Gaga
  • Thriller/Heads will Roll – Glee version!

There’s a lovely mix of songs on there… although I don’t think anyone will be inviting me to be in charge of the playlists any time soon. 

What would you put on your Halloween playlist?
Are there any songs on my list you love?
Are you also in love with Christopher Pumpkin as I am?

Talk to me!

Massive thank you to the publishers, Hachette, for the review copy and the opportunity to be on the blog tour! Full review coming soon! 

S x