BLOG TOUR: Sam Wu

Today I have the absolute joy of being part of the Sam Wu is NOT Afraid of the Dark blog tour! I ADORE the Sam Wu books, written by the brilliant Katie and Kevin Tsang, so when I was asked to be aprt of this blog tour, I jumped at the chance! Check out my review below (featuring some quotes from some of my kids!)

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“Sam Wu is NOT afraid of anything. Except for quite a lot of things. Like ghosts. Sharks too. And also THE DARK! And so when Sam goes camping in the woods with his friends and cousin Stanley, who knows what scary kind of things they’ll face . . .?”

The Sam Wu books are a brilliant series featuring the hilariously afraid of everything nothing Sam Wu and his bunch of friends! This third book in the series sees Sam taking on a new fear he definitely doesn’t have… the dark! 

Sam Wu ends up having to go camping with his friends and his cousin… a cousin who thinks he is excellent at everything! There’s MANY hilarious moments in the story – I was in fact cackling from the first page. As well as lots of hilarity, of course Sam’s arch nemesis ends up turning up on the camp site and they have to learn to work together to get over their fear not fear of the dark. There’s a scene at the campsite in particular that made me PROPER giggle – it’s funny seeing the world through a child’s eyes and things like getting from a tent to where adults are sat made me proper laugh. 

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These books are so perfect for children who are just building their confidence with reading and those who love a brilliantly illustrated story! The illustrations are just spot on for this story and they add so much to the story. Nathan Reed, the illustrator, has got the whole story and the feel of the story spot on in his pictures. 

Some quotes from the kids I teach:

“I love these books because Sam Wu doesn’t look like most characters in stories. He’s different and it’s good for us to learn about different kinds of people”.

“These books make me really laugh and I hope there will be more” (when this child noticed book 4 cover on the back, there was an audible YAY)

“I just love how some of the pages are different colours and that makes them really fun. I also like that Sam and his friends always work together. And Sam is really scared of everything, he’s just really brave too though”

My goodreads review:

Brilliantly fun! I love these stories. Full of laugh out loud moments, friendship, adventure and beautiful illustrations! This had me cackling from the first page!

Have you met Sam Wu and his brilliant friends yet?
What one thing are you definitely NOT afraid of?

Go check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour! And buy Sam Wu is NOT Afriad of the Dark when it comes out on Thursday! (In fact you might already find it in your local shops, so GO GO GO, or preorder it today!)

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A massive thank you to Egmont for sending me a copy of the book and for inviting me to be on the blog tour! 

S x 

COVER REVEAL: A Pocketful of Stars

WELL ISN’T THIS AN EXCITING BONUS SATURDAY POST?! 

Today, I have the ABSOLUTE JOY of revealing, exclusively, the cover for one of my most anticipated MG books of 2019 – A Pocketful of Stars by Aisha Bushby. What a cracking way to start 2019!

A Pocketful of Stars promises to be something pretty incredible! Check out the blurb below and scroll down for the cover! 

Can piecing together the past help you change the present?

When I next open my eyes, I’m back… in front of the house again.
It’s night time. The stars wave hello, like they’ve been expecting me.
The door of the house, Mum’s house, is wide open, like it expects me too.
This time, I go inside…

Safiya and her mum have never seen eye to eye. Her mum doesn’t understand Safiya’s love of gaming and Safiya doesn’t think they have anything in common. As Safiya struggles to fit in at school she wonders if her mum wishes she was more like her confident best friend Elle. But then her mum falls into a coma and, when Safiya waits by her bedside, she finds herself in a strange alternative world that looks a bit like one of her games. And there’s a rebellious teenage girl, with a secret, who looks suspiciously familiar…

A Pocketful of Stars is a story about family, friendship and finding out who you are… with a sprinkling of magic.

 

I mean, WHO WOULDN’T WANT TO READ THAT? MAGIC? FRIENDSHIP? FAMILY? GAMING? GIRLS WHO GAME? WINNING…

So yes, I know, get on with the cover reveal… I’m just keeping you all on your toes!

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DEAR LORD IN THE HEAVENS LOOK AT IT!
THIS IS 100% GORGEOUS. 
*swoon*

Keep your eyes peeled for A Pocketful of Stars, released on August 8th (I know, SO FAR AWAY) with Egmont UK. 

ALSO, check out a post next week where I gave my class the title and the blurb and asked them to design a cover for the book! We had so much fun doing it! 

Massive massive thank you to Aisha and Egmont for asking me to be part of this cover reveal, I couldn’t be happier and more excited to be involved. 

Do you love the cover as much as I do?
Are you excited for A Pocketful of Stars?

Let me know in the comments your thoughts! 

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Laura Ellen Anderson

Amelia Fang: brilliantly spooky books with gorgeous characters too!

“Welcome to the world of Nocturnia, where darkness reigns supreme, glitter is terrifying, and unicorns are the stuff of nightmares! Amelia Fang would much rather hang out with her pet pumpkin Squashy and her friends Florence the yeti (DON’T CALL HER BEAST!) and Grimaldi the reaper than dance at her parents’ annual Barbaric Ball. And when the King’s spoiled son Tangine captures Squashy, Amelia and her friends must escape the party to plan a daring rescue! In their race against time, they begin to realise things in Nocturnia may not be quite what they seem . . .”

“Amelia Fang is the biggest hearted vampiress you’ll ever meet. In this adventure, she and her friends Florence the yeti (DON’T CALL HER BEAST), Grimaldi the Death and Prince Tangine (reformed spoiled sprout), along with her pet pumpkin Squashy, must brave the journey to the terrifying Kingdom of the Light to try to find Tangine’s missing mother, Queen Fairyweather. But with unicorns, fairies and angel-kittens lurking around every corner, who can they trust? And will they finally uncover the real villain keeping the kingdoms of Light and Dark as mortal enemies?”

I recently devoured both of these books in a matter of about 2 hours and my word, they’re BRILLIANT. These books would be perfect to read around Halloween time and with the 3rd book coming out soon (later this year I believe!) there’s no better time to pick these up than now!

In book 1, you meet Amelia Fang, who is not your run of the mill, ordinary girl. She’s a vampire with best friends who are also not human. Her best friends are Florence, a rare breed of yeti, (DEFINITELY NOT A BEAST) and Grimaldi, a young apprentice Grim Reaper. Amelia’s parents are hosting the annual Barbaric Ball and have invited the King and his son, Prince Tangine, to the ball. Having agreed to come to the ball, Amelia is tasked with looking after the Prince when he starts at her school. She definitely does not want this. What ensues is adventure, friendship and a whole load of acceptance. 

Then in book 2, the adventures continue with Amelia and her friends when they have to go to the dreaded Kingdom of Light to help rescue Queen Fairyweather, Tangine’s mother. Amelia meets all kinds of brilliant new characters and has to travel to a brand new land. That’s all sparkly and happy… completely different to where she comes from! She’s a brilliant friend, helping out a friend in need. Nothing could go wrong, right?

These books are BRILLIANT FUN and beautifully illustrated. I can’t tell you how much I adore the illustrations. They add so much to the books, I definitely loved seeing all these wonderful creatures and settings – they’re much better than my brain could’ve imagined! (People who can draw blow my mind, so the face Laura draws the pictures AND writes the story just baffles me! Massive massive props to her!) There’s a few copies going around the library at school at the minute because the kids are just devouring them! Book 3 can not come quick enough! I love the sense of adventure, friendship and family in these books. They deliver a message without kids necessarily realising it. 

Have you read the Amelia Fang books?
What kind of mythical creature would you choose to be?

Lets talk!

 Sx

BOOK BLOG: Katie and Kevin Tsang

Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Sharks: laugh out loud funny and brilliantly illustrated book that kids will love!

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“Sam Wu is NOT a scaredy-cat (except when he is). And when a shark TOTALLY tries to eat him at the local aquarium, he decides he’s not going to take any more chances. So at his friend’s birthday party at the beach, Sam refuses to dip even a toe in the water. Nothing could go wrong now, could it?”

Sam Wu is a brilliant new series of books written by husband and wife team Kevin and Katie Tsang (also known as Katherine Webber, yes… her! Author of the amazing Wing Jones), illustrated by the brilliant Nathan Reed. If you’re new to the Sam Wu books, you might fancy checking out my review of the first book in the series ‘Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Ghosts’ here. Book one was a delight, so I was VERY excited when I got the opportunity to read book 2. Thank you so much to the publishers, Egmont, for sending me a review copy!

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Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Sharks tells the story of Sam and his friends, who end up going to an aquarium and (as Sam is DEFINITELY not afraid of sharks) the hilarity that ensues. Obviously, as Sam is not afraid of sharks, when one of his classmates invites him to her birthday party (being held at the beach), he is THRILLED (see: not thrilled) to be going. The beach is the LAST place Sam wants to be – but he’s NOT scared of sharks, no sir. 

I love this series so much. The books so far have both been really funny and the first book has been a total hit with the kids at school. They’re the perfect book for kids who are just starting out reading chapter books for themselves. We’re so lucky at the minute that there are many wonderfully illustrated chapter books being published, and Sam Wu fits so beautifully in that category. 

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Sam continues to be one of those really funny characters. He has some amazing people in his life. His friends are wonderful; his little sister makes me laugh. They surround Sam, who is definitely not afraid of everything, and keep him going when in reality he just wants to stay in his room all the time. There’s some brilliant moments in this book with some new characters and old favourites. On top of all of this, the portrayal of Sam’s family is brilliant – they are hilarious. 

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One of my favourite things about these books is the illustrations. I think they add SO MUCH to the story. The pages are all different and I love that. There’s so much going on in these books that you can’t get bored. The illustrations are just top notch. They add a level of humour that I adore. 

My Goodreads review:

I love these books – they’re fun, brilliantly illustrated and younger me would’ve picked them up in a heartbeat. I love the humour in the Sam Wu books, he’s the perfect MC! These books always make me laugh. I can’t wait for book 3! Come on February!

I am VERY excited for the third book in the Sam Wu series – Sam Wu is Not Afraid of The Dark. There’s a sneak peek of the cover on the back of Sharks, but I won’t spoil it! 

Have you read any of the Sam Wu series?
What are you DEFINITELY not afraid of?
Can you recommend any other books like Sam Wu?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments or on twitter!

S x

Author spotlight: Laura Steven

Hello, today I have the absolute pleasure of introducing you to Laura Steven, author of the incredible The Exact Opposite of Okay. If you’ve not picked it up yet, please do.It’s absolutely incredible. Laura is here answering 3 quick questions about her book… so I should leave you to it really!

Where did the inspiration for TEOOO come from?

In terms of inspiration, this book was SO different to everything else I’ve ever written (I’d written four full manuscripts before TEOOO).
While my novel ideas usually come to me through plot or world first, Izzy’s voice just popped into my head one morning. Seriously, the hilarious voice of a snarky teenage girl just started chirping away in my head. I felt like I might require an exorcism. So all I had to do was come up with a story for her, and the rest is history.

The plot itself is inspired by a few different things that have happened to me since leaving high school – namely a friend-zoned guy who turned aggressive, a former boss who sexually harrassed me in the workplace. I wanted to explore some of the issues facing teenage girls – slut-shaming, friend-zoning, body image, victim-blaming – but also do with humour and sass. Because life is just more fun – and more bearable – if you can laugh when everything is going to shit.

What is your favourite thing about Izzy?

The way she’s so completely, unapologetically herself. When I was that age, I knew who I wanted to be but I was too scared to be that person. Confident, funny, wise in my own way. So in a sense, I relived my teenage years vicariously through Izzy. She doesn’t care what the world thinks of her as long as she’s true to herself. She also holds her hands up when she makes a mistake and dos whatever it takes to make amends. I adore that in her too – I think when we’ve messed up, it’s human nature to go on the defensive and refuse to admit you were wrong. But Izzy readily admits she acted like a royal twat to someone she loves. That’s kinda cool of her.

What do you want people to take from TEOOO?
 

Well first of all, I really hope people learn never to touch their foofer after chopping chilis. In all seriousness though, I really want to inspire teenagers to speak up and fight back against the never-ending stream of misogyny diarrhea they have to face on a daily basis. I believe we’re living in a time of huge change, with the Silence Breakers being named TIME’s Person of the Year, the #MeToo campaign gathering so much steam, and powerful men beginning to be held accountable for their sexual harassment. It feels like the tide is finally turning, and I’m so proud to be joining the fight with this book. 

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Blurb

Aspiring comedian Izzy O’Neill never expected to be eighteen and internationally reviled. But when photos involving her, a politician’s son and a garden bench emerge, the trolls set out to take her apart. Armed with best friend Ajita and a metric ton of nachos, she must figure out who’s behind the vicious website – while keeping her sanity intact. Izzy is about to find out that the way the world treats girls is not okay. It’s the Exact Opposite of Okay.

This is a book for anyone who’s ever called themselves a feminist . . . and anyone who hasn’t.  

Bio

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Laura Steven is an author and journalist from the northernmost town in England. Her writing has appeared in The i Paper, The Guardian and Buzzfeed, and The Exact Opposite of Okay, her YA debut, will be published by Egmont in March 2018. By day, Laura works for Mslexia, a non-profit organisation supporting women writers. She has a BA in Journalism and an MA in Creative Writing, and her TV pilot Clickbait reached the final eight in British Comedy’s 2016 Sitcom Mission. Laura is represented by Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary and Media Inc.

If you’d like to follow Laura (which you should because she’s WONDERFUL) check out her social links… there’s SO MANY places to follow her.

BOOK BLOG: Laura Steven

The Exact Opposite of Okay: the exact definition of remarkable.

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“Izzy O’Neill is an aspiring comic, an impoverished orphan, and a Slut Extraordinaire. Or at least, that’s what the malicious website flying round the school says. Izzy can try all she wants to laugh it off – after all, her sex life, her terms – but when pictures emerge of her doing the dirty with a politician’s son, her life suddenly becomes the centre of a national scandal. Izzy’s never been ashamed of herself before, and she’s not going to start now. But keeping her head up will take everything she has…”

(massive shout out to Waterstones Newcastle for putting this book EVERYWHERE. I hope it sells out quickly)

There had been a lot of buzz around this book, I remember people at YALC last year were going MAD for it. I missed out on getting a proof back then, but when I managed to get my hands on a proof I was ECSTATIC. Guys, this book is INCREDIBLE.

TEOOO opens with the MOST HILARIOUS first chapter. I genuinely cackled SO HARD over the first chapter (I mean, I cackled a lot throughout the whole book, but my introduction to Izzy and her life just had me gripped). You’re introduced to Izzy O’Neill, who I will HAPPILY put my hand up and say is one of my favourite characters I’ve been introduced to in a long time. She’s hilarious, brazen, bold, honest and just brilliant. She’s this bundle of absolute hilarity. Izzy has been written in such an incredible way – there’s this snarky, sarcastic wit about her that I just adored. She’s a girl who is FULL of self doubt. She has so many worries, but she disguises them so well. She puts on a brilliant face. She’s great at making her exterior very opposite to interior. I very quickly grew attached to her. I wanted to know what was going to happen to her INSTANTLY. 

One of the things that I think makes Izzy so special is that she is so relatable. She’s not some rich kid with 70000 ponies and a gold studded car. She’s very normal. She goes to school, she has best friends, she has secret passions, she has crushes. Something goes wrong. She struggles to deal with it. She has people around her who stick with her, some who aren’t as lovely. She gets through it. She’s incredible. I can’t wait to see what’s coming next... because yes guys there’s a TEOOO2 coming. I can not wait

This book is so much more than just Izzy though. Whilst Izzy is IMPERATIVE to me falling in love with this book, there’s a whole host of other people that I loved and hated (in that bookish loving kind of hatred). Let’s just list the characters I love/hate most because I love a list…

  1. Ajita.
    Everyone needs an amazing best friend like Ajita. I loved that Izzy had such an incredible, equally funny, equally sassy best friend like Ajita. I really liked her. There’s brilliant moments of consideration for Ajita’s cultural background that are woven so seamlessly into the book. She’s hilarious, loyal and bold. We’ve all got a friend like Ajita.
  2. Betty.
    Izzy’s exceptional grandmother who just says things like they are. They’re able to be so open with each other. I’m not sure I’m that open with anyone in my life, so to see quite a brazen teenager have this incredible relationship with her grandma was just spot on. Betty isn’t afraid to tell Izzy how it is either. She’s this wonderful mix of warm, supportive, cuddly with a sharp tongue. She keeps it real.
  3. Danny
    Oh Danny. I won’t spoil it for you guys. Danny is just. I can’t. I wanted to be team Danny, but he’s just no. I think reading this book as an adult made me think back. I definitely had a Danny in my life. I’d like to think that I could stand up to any Dannys in my life now. He’s everything that bothers me about self entitled people.
  4. Mrs Crannon
    As a teacher, it is so SO SO SO SO brilliant to see a positive relationship outlined with a teenager. Teachers are so often silent characters in contemporary books, or are part of the problem in teens lives. To see a teacher written in such a positive, encouraging light made my heart so happy.

So… an incredible cast of characters, who you will love or hate? Check.
A book which will make you laugh, cry and be angry in equal measures? Check.

What about dealing with something that is NECESSARY? WELL LET’S SEE.

TEOOO deals with Izzy, who is thrust into the centre of a “slut-shaming, revenge porn, victim shaming and blame culture” situation and IT IS SO NEEDED. This book so brilliantly deals with an issue which, in our technologically sound age, could be a very real problem. Laura deals with it in a very humorous, touching, REAL way. It’s needed. People need to read this. This book is going to make a lot of noise. It’s going to stamp on a load of social barriers. It’s going to make people listen. It’s going to make people talk. It’s going to give people a voice who didn’t have one before. I am very passionate about this book. I will thrust it into the hands of so many people. It needs to be seen by teenagers, teachers, adults… EVERYONE. There is no one who I wouldn’t hand this to. People need to read this. People need to read Izzy’s story. 

I’ve heard Laura speak about TEOOO a few times and she’s such a brilliant speaker. She speaks of this book with such warmth, such passion. She’s just remarkable. Laura is HILARIOUS too. I love that Izzy’s humour is clearly evidence of Laura’s own humour. (If you want other reasons Laura is awesome, may I point you in the direction of #FeminismFriday – Laura Steven)

V. QUICKLY WHILE I STILL HAVE YOU… THAT COVER THOUGH. *heart eyes*

My goodreads review of TEOOO is all of these things in far fewer words: (I would DEFINITELY give this book all of the stars in the world, if I could)

If I could give this book more than 5 stars I completely would.

Izzy O’Neill is going to make some noise in 2018 and rightfully so. This book is incredible and necessary. It shouts and barks about important issues like revenge porn, victim shaming and blame culture. I just adored it.

Everyone needs to read this book. Buy it.

Have you read The Exact Opposite of Okay?
Did you also have STRONG FEELINGS about Danny? (We need to talk!)
Who was your favourite character?

Talk to me! Tweet me! Send me a postcard, a carrier pigeon, an owl, a text… whatever. This book is one of my faves of 2018 so far. 

S x

BOOKBLOG: Katie and Kevin Tsang

Sam Wu Is Not Afraid of Ghosts: fun, fearless (definitely) and Fang-tastic

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“Brilliantly funny new series about the bravest scaredy-cat in the world

Sam Wu is NOT a scaredy-cat (except he is). When a trip to the Space Museum goes terrifyingly wrong, Sam begins a mission to prove to the school bully, and all of his friends, that he is a fearless space adventurer. A truly laugh-out-loud, voice-led and madcap story of ghost hunting, snakes and mischievous pet cats called Butterbutt”

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I absolutely adored Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Ghosts. There’s so much fun and lots of laughter to be had. There were lots of times where I caught myself laughing out loud. It’s definitely one that will keep kids entertained. I can’t wait to take it into school and see what my kids think! I was entertained from the very first page to the end. Sam has some brilliant friends, who react to many of the situations, as children definitely would. We all need friends like Zoe and Bernard – they’re brilliant. Sam’s little sister Lucy is also brilliant. She might be my favourite!

Sam Wu deals with fears in a fun and relatable way. I loved the way Sam was definitely (not) afraid of things but puts on a brave face, a brave front, to make it seem like he doesn’t. I feel like, even as adults, that’s very much what we as people do! Everyone’s got a fear. Everyone’s scared of something (except Sam Wu). Fear, and dealing with fear, would be a great talking point after reading this with kids. 

I loved the way that different cultures were interspersed into this book. Sam’s family are Chinese and Katie and Kevin so seamlessly integrate lots of different elements of Chinese culture into this book. There’s a very funny scene with Zoe and Bernard coming over for a meal that definitely made me chuckle. 

Sam Wu is a brilliantly fun book, which would be perfect for kids who are just finding their feet with chapter books. The pages are beautifully illustrated by Nathan Reed. The illustrations are some of my favourite bits! There’s some brilliant foot notes and side notes that keep the eye busy! The pages are gorgeous and there’s enough words to keep the mind going.

I’m very excited for more from Kevin and Katie. Katie is the author of one of my favourite books, Wing Jones, so when I found out she was writing a MG book I was THRILLED. I now want more Sam Wu in my life NOW. 

What are you DEFINITELY NOT afraid of?
Like Sam Wu, are you definitely not afraid of ghosts?

Let me know on twitter or in the comments the things you definitely not afraid of! 

Thank you so much to Siobhan from Egmont for sending me a copy of this brilliant book! I shall be passing it on to the school library! 

S x