Looking for a brilliant read for a teen in your life?

Here we are, day 3 of my gift guide. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them! It’s been a blast looking back at my year in books and thinking which ones I would recommend people buy and read AND SHOVE IN EACH OTHERS FACES *ahem*.

Today, on this here final day of recommending, I’m sorting through the MANY MANY YA books I’ve read this year and giving you 12 that you ABSOLUTELY need to buy for the YA fan in your life! (Just as the past few days, none of these books will REALLY come as a surprise!) Without further ado…

2018 ya recs

Scythe/Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven

State of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury (while we’re at it… The Sin Eater’s Daughter trilogy too, LBR)

Goodbye Perfect by Sara Barnard (and ANY of her other books too)

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Show Stopper/Show Stealer by Hayley Barker

White Rabbit, Red Wolf by Tom Pollock

The Secret Deep by Lindsay Galvin

Theatrical by Maggie Harcourt

Clean by Juno Dawson

Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber (and Wing Jones too)

Floored by the Floored Seven

TADAAAAH. You made it. This list could’ve been so much longer. GO AND BUY THEM ALL. READ THEM ALL. LOVE THEM ALL.

Do you agree with my recommendations?
Can you add any to my list?
Which of these books have you loved most?

Talk to me in the comments! Are you SHOCKED by my choices?

S x

“You know books… can I have some recommendations?”

The amount of times I’ve been asked for recommendations over the past few weeks is LUSH. Whether it’s from my kids for what to read next, for parents on what to buy their kids for Christmas or from my colleagues on what to read, it’s all lush to talk books.

Over the next 3 days I’m going to collate 3 different lists for books I’d recommend – be it to read or to buy someone for Christmas!

Today I’m tackling 7+ (ish) recommendations

Tomorrow will be 8+ish and then Wednesday will be YA recommendations! There are LOADS of recommendations out there, I just decided to collate my favourite 10 from the past year (or so)!

If you have a reader who is just starting to read chapter books, or likes the look of illustrated chapter books, these books are brilliant.

2018 recs

Violet and the… series by Harriet Whitehorn

Fabio – The World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective by Laura James

Royal Rabbits of London series by Santa Montefiore and Simon Sebag Montefiore

The Truth Pixie by Matt Haig

Amelia Fang series by Laura Ellen Anderson

Max – The Detective Cat series by Sarah Todd Taylor

The Wild Robot series by Peter Brown

The Twitches series by Hayley Scott

Sam Wu series by Katie and Kevin Tsang

Horace and Harriet series by Clare Elsom

There you have it! 10 of the best books for Y2+ I’ve read recently. I’d love to know your thoughts! Let me know!

Have you read any of these?
Do you have any recommendations that I could add?
Which of these would you like to pick up most?

Talk to me!

Remember to come back tomorrow for recommendations for books for those 8+ years!

S x

S4S – Ultimate panels

Hello everyone!

Sorry for the hiatus this week… there was just a little need for my brain to take a break after a very busy half term! I am back though! And today’s #SixforSunday sees me taking on:

Dream panels/events

So, my dream panels? WELL THIS IS GONNA BE FUN. I’m gonna go 3 MG and 3 YA because LOVE.

“Contemporary YA: Why it matters” with Laura Steven, Alice Oseman, Sara Barnard and Katherine Webber.

“Writing badass characters” featuring Leigh Bardugo, Melinda Salisbury, Alice Broadway and Alwyn Hamilton.

“Writing stories that make our readers cry (we love it)” featuring C.G.Drews, Karen Gregory, Lisa Healthfield and Adam Silvera.

“Creating worlds kids want to read about” featuring Helena Duggan, Maz Evans, Ross Mackenzie and Kiran Milwood Hargrave.

“Writing incredible characters” featuring Peter Brown, Lisa Thompson, Alex Bell and Jessica Townsend.

“Books: an ode to books” featuring Anna James and Piers Torday in conversation.

Side note: I am still waiting for a Floored Seven panel

There we go! I LOVE hearing authors talk about their books, so please GET ME MORE EVENTS IN THE NORTH. I’m more than happy to host any of these *wink*

Remember to share your dream panels using #SixforSunday! I can’t wait to see what you all think! 

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Katherine Webber

Only Love Can Break Your Heart: complex, brilliant, real. 

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“Sometimes a broken heart is all you need to set you free… Reiko loves the endless sky and electric colours of the Californian desert. It is a refuge from an increasingly claustrophobic life of family pressures and her own secrets. Then she meets Seth, a boy who shares a love of the desert and her yearning for a different kind of life. But Reiko and Seth both want something the other can’t give them. As summer ends, things begin to fall apart. But the end of love can sometimes be the beginning of you…”

Last Thursday saw the publication of this absolute beauty, the newest book from Katherine Webber (author of the absolutely incredible Wing Jones). I was lucky enough to read it a few months ago, but have needed all this time to be able to put my thoughts in some kind of real order that isn’t just OMG REIKO AND OMG I LOVED IT. I did love it, entirely. 

Only Love is miles away from the brilliance of Wing Jones and Reiko couldn’t be more opposite to Wing. Did that make me love her any less? Absolutely not. Reiko is one of those characters who makes mistakes, has flaws and MADE ME FEEL. There were so many times I wanted to shout at Reiko. There were instances where I definitely didn’t agree with what she was doing, but it didn’t stop me loving her. I felt a bit like a big sister/best friend to her. Watching her make these STUPID choices and then not being able to help killed me. 

Only Love deals with some brilliant themesgrief, friendship, love, heartbreak, families, peer pressure, being a teenager, acceptance – which are dealt with beautifully. There were a few times when you’re with Reiko and you’re SMACKED in the face with something, but never a time when you didn’t feel safe. Grief is one of the biggest themes of this book, with Reiko having to deal with the loss of someone close to her. I didn’t see the massive shocker coming at the end of chapter 1 and I GENUINELY did a gasp – to be hit with such a massive shocker so early in the book gave me feelings. Reiko has to learn to accept her grief, deal with it and let go, despite wanting to keep hold of that someone special. All of this while she’s living her life, going to school, falling in love, falling out with friends… she’s a wonderfully brave young woman.

I can’t talk about this book without mentioning Seth. Oh Seth. Complicated, slightly douchey Seth. He makes mistakes, just as Reiko does. They’re teenagers, they’re finding their way in the world, and with that comes mistakes. 

Shout out massively to the dinosaur scene. If you’ve read it, you know what I mean. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I DEFINITELY want someone to take me to the dinosaur. It just sounds so lush. I’m a romantic at heart. 

I still have many thoughts about this book that are yet to form into a way which makes sense. Katherine Webber has written a book which has heart, wit and punch. I would definitely recommend this book. I’m so excited to see what’s next from Katherine because if Reiko and Wing are anything to go by, it’s going to be just as special.

Have you read Only Love Can Break Your Heart?
What did you think of Reiko?
ARE YOU OBSESSED WITH THAT COVER TOO?

Let me know your thoughts! Comment, tweet me, send a pigeon. 

S x

S4S – Autobuy authors

Hello Sunday! Hello #SixforSunday pals. 

How are we all today? 

Today on #SixforSunday, we are talking:

Authors I will always pick up

Now… I’m technically going to do 2 #SixforSunday posts in one here… 6 YA authors, and 6 MG authors. (Hey, I’m the creator of #SixforSunday, I can bend the rules!)

6 YA authors that are automatic buys:

  1. Melinda Salisbury (I KNOW! WHAT A SHOCKER!)
  2. Sara Barnard (again… WHO AM I?)
  3. Alwyn Hamilton 
  4. Katherine Webber
  5. Alice Broadway
  6. Alice Oseman

6 MG authors that are automatic buys:

  1. Maz Evans (I bet you didn’t see that coming!)
  2. Lisa Thompson
  3. Katherine Rundell
  4. Ross Montgomery
  5. Kiran Milwood-Hargrave
  6. Abi Elphinstone

Shout out to Matt Haig too… who doesn’t fit into these 2 categories, but who is 1100% an auto-buy in my life.

None of these names will come as a surprise to long time, or even short time, followers of my blog! 

Remember to share your #SixforSunday post with me on twitter! I’m loving all of the posts! Thanks guys!

See you next week for Authors who surprised you!

S x

 

BOOK BLOG: Annalie Grainger

In Your Light: a compelling and powerful read (with a GORGEOUS cover)

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“Mella Laverty had been missing for eight months, six days and eighteen hours. Seventeen-year-old Lil’s heart was broken when her big sister, Mella, went missing. Now she is ‘Lil After’ – angry, cold and dark. One especially dark and rainy night, Lil accidentally runs a strange girl, ‘Seven’ down in her car. Tiny, gentle, terrified Seven was born into the Sisterhood of the Light, a seemingly peaceful community that believes in the healing power of the sun. When a fire tore through the compound, Seven ran for her life, straight into Lil’s path. But now the Sisterhood is unwilling to let Seven go. What could she have fled that is worse than flames …? As Lil and Seven’s stories unfold and intertwine, they begin to trust each other with dark secrets. And there’s more darkness to come ..”

In Your Light tells the story of Lil, whose sister Mella has gone missing. Lil blames herself for her sister’s disappearance. As you go on through the book, you start to get pieces of the puzzle clicking together to find out WHY Lil blames herself for her sister’s disappearance. Lil just wants her sister back. It’s having an impact on so many different parts of her life. While all of this is happening in her life, Lil comes across a young girl, hurt in the road. Lil rescues this young girl, who could be the clue to Lil finding her sister. 

The story is told through two perspectives, which for me can go SO wrong, but in this book is it done SO beautifully. The perspectives keep the book moving at a brilliant pace. On one hand, you get the perspective of a scared girl desperately searching for her sister, and on the other you get a young girl searching for herself in a new world

One of the biggest hooks for me with this book was that it was about a cult, or a sisterhood, and following my love of After the Fire, I needed some more of that in my life. There are scenes from the sisterhood, where the sisterhood is talked about and it is harrowing some of the things that the sisters do. It’s compelling reading however. I wanted to keep reading because I needed to know what was going to happen. The young girl, Seven, who Lil finds is from this sisterhood and as she reveals more to Lil, it becomes apparent that there are secrets and a REAL darkness that Lil needs to save her sister from. 

There’s some pretty dark themes explored in this book, but they’re done so brilliantly and dealt with in such a caring way that you want to read on. The thread of “learning to trust” is one of the most interesting. Lil has to learn to trust Seven, Seven has to learn to trust Lil. Lil questions whether she can trust her family and friends. Mella wonders about trusting her newly found sisters. This trust dynamic makes for interesting reading. There were many moments where I wanted to scream at the book and say NO DON’T DO IT, THAT’S NOT RIGHT. (That’s when you know it’s a good book… when you want to shout at it. It means you’re INVESTED).

I also must take a moment to appreciate that cover. SUCH A GORGEOUS COVER. Some of the raindrops are tactile too… *swoon*

My Goodreads review:

What a powerful and intense book! A brilliant story told from 2 perspectives – a girl looking for her lost sister, the sister looking to be found elsewhere. Reading the “cult” bits of this book were intense. I just think this is brilliant. (I definitely didn’t cry at the end, no not me)

A massive thanks to Katherine Webber for recommending this book to me at YAShot! I bought it entirely based on her recommendation and I do not regret a single second of it! My lush friend Kelly ALSO bought it at YAShot – if you’d like to read her review, check it out here.

Have you read In Your Light?
Can you recommend any other “cult” books to me?
Has an author ever recommended a book to you?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments! I need more books about cults in my life, thanks. 

S x

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

Bank Holiday Book Tag

My lovely friend Cora (over at TeaPartyPrincess) created this tag, centred around things we usually do around Bank Holiday!

Have a lie in: which book could you lounge in bed with all morning?Image result for the scarecrow queenThe Scarecrow Queen by Melinda Salisbury. It just is magnificent. I love Twylla’s progression. If I could be left in bed wtih all 3 of the series, that would be magnificent.

Oh my goodness, it’s so sunny outside: which book makes you feel optimistic?Image result for wing jonesWing Jones by Katherine Webber. Wing Jones is such an incredible young woman, she actually made me want to go running. I think I need to get Wing out again to get my motivation back!

Spend some time outdoors: which book that reminds you of nature?34992381The Explorer – Katherine Rundell is written so beautifully that it is definitely one that makes me feel like I’m outside, in the rainforest with the kids.

Make some punch.: which book do you find difficult to classify into one genre?Image result for out of the blue sophie cameronOut of the Blue – Sophie Cameron. It’s contemporary, fantasy, magical realism… all those brilliant things in one! 

Pass some food around: which book you want to share with everyone?
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Perijee and Me – Ross Montgomery. It’s one of the first books I shared with the kids at school and we all fell in love with it. I had readit during the summer hoidays and knew I needed to use it as a class reader.
Light the BBQ: which book took a while to get going?
Image result for where the world endsWhere the World Ends – Geraldine McCaughrean. I’m so glad I stuck with this book, it’s dark and grim. It’s properly good though. 
Failed BBQ: which book ultimately disappointed you?
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Caraval by Stephanie Garber. I had SUCH HIGH EXPECTATIONS for this book and it just didn’t spark my imagination like I was hoping. (I know A LOT OF PEOPLE love this book though)
It’s raining. Of course: which book would you curl up with when it’s raining outside?
Image result for the storm keeper's islandThe Storm Keeper’s Island – Catherine Doyle. Capturing the island’s weather in candles and using their power… man, this book is special.
Let’s just eat the chocolate: which book issuper sweet?
Image result for a quiet kind of thunderA Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard. Guys, I have such a love for this book it’s unreal. I miss Steffi and Rhys. I hope they make a reappearance in my life some day. Just one of the loveliest love stories ever. 
And there you have it! My bank holiday tag books! If you fancy doing this tag, please feel free! 
Enjoy your bank holiday! 
S x

S4S – 2018 books

HALLO.

It is Sunday again.How did that happen? It’s the Easter holidays! I hope everyone is eating a chocolate egg, or something equally fun today.

Today’s #SixforSunday theme is

2018 books I’m still excited for

Now, lots of the books of 2018 I was excited for are out already BUT of course there are some I am STILL excited for. 

  1. Beyond the Odyssey – Maz Evans 
    (I technically already own this, thanks Chicken House, but it’s not out JUST YET)
  2. Polar Bear Explorers’ Club 2 (I’m not sure if it has a title yet!) – Alex Bell
  3. Floored – an assortment of brilliant UKYA authors
  4. Katherine Webber – Only Love Can Break Your Heart
    (again, I’ve read it but since it’s not out yet, I can be excited for it!)
  5. Wundersmith (Nevermoor 2) – Jessica Townsend
  6. 1000 Perfect Notes – C.G. Drews 
    (another one I’ve read that I can’t wait for EVERYONE ELSE to read. It’s heartbreaking)

And there we have it! Six 2018 releases that I’m still excited for. There are so so many others. 2018 is killing it in the old book stakes! Keep em coming!

Keep sharing your #SixforSunday posts with me on Twitter and linking me! I’m loving all of the posts! You’re all brilliant!

S x

Q&A with Katherine Webber!

Katie Webber is one of my favourite authors, one of those MUST BUYS MUST TRY TO ACQUIRE BOOKS FROM. Wing Jones is one of those just incredible books that comes along and smacks you in the face. When I was asked if I’d like to do a Q&A with Katie as part of the NYA Literature Festival celebrations, I JUMPED AT THE CHANCE
Enjoy guys! 
1. Where did the inspiration for Wing Jones come from?
The idea of writing about a girl runner had been bouncing around in my brain for years. I ran track and cross country in high school  and while I loved parts of it, I also found it very difficult! I used to fantasize about being a naturally talented runner, and it just coming effortlessly. So when I finally sat down to start what would become WING JONES, I had all these questions about this girl runner character. Who was she? Why was she special? Why was she running? Why didn’t she know she was a talented runner? Wing’s brother Marcus came next, and then her grandmothers, and the whole story went out from there. 
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2. What is your writing process? Do you go for a set number of words a day? Or do you just write as and when you can?
It depends if I’m drafting or editing! When I’m drafting I try to just get as much written as I can, but when I’m editing it is a slower process. Sometimes it will take me days to perfect a certain scene, and most of that time I’m just thinking and trying to work it out. I like to write at home in my office or in my living room with writer friends or at the British Library. 

3. There’s an incredible sense of “believe in yourself” in your books, is this a message you want your readers to take from Wing?
Absolutely! My biggest message would be to believe in yourself, and that you are stronger than you think you are. I hope this comes across in my next YA book too. 

4. You’ve written for children and young adults, how were the two processes different?

It was a completely different process! I really enjoyed doing something so collaborative. Working with my husband Kevin was a lot of fun, and I think for this particular project I couldn’t have written it on my own, so it was great to have a partner.  The whole process is very different from how I write YA, and I think it was good for my brain to work a different way. It is definitely difficult at times co-writing it, but worth it in the end! 

YA is where my heart is, but I loved writing for a different age range. And it was really great to work on something so collaborative. And I LOVE having a book with illustrations.

The planning process is very different. Writing collaboratively requires a lot more structure. Kevin and I spend a lot of time brainstorming and then we write a very structured outline that we don’t deviate too much from. For my YA novels, I rarely have an outline, and when I write a first draft, I tend to see where it takes me. I’m writing to find the story.  After my first draft, sometimes I’ll make an outline or write a synopsis that I can use as a reference while editing. My YA books require more rounds of edits, and SAM WU requires more planning and outlining. 

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5. How has your debut year been?

I’ve had the best debut year! I’m so grateful to my wonderful publisher Walker books, to all the readers who have supported the book, to all the authors who have been so welcoming and wonderful! And of course to all the amazing bloggers who shouted about the book and got behind it–it makes a huge difference to a debut author. I’m so grateful to be an author and try to enjoy every part of the experience. 

6. What’s next?
My next YA novel is out this August with Walker books. The title is ONLY LOVE CAN BREAK YOUR HEART and it is set in the Palm Springs desert. It’s about a beautiful, popular girl named Reiko Smith-Mori who has secrets and cracks in her heart, the boy who thinks she’s perfect, and what happens when they both want something the other one can’t give them. It’s about family, friendship, and finding yourself. 
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As a reader of all of these 3 books, I can say that they are all wonderful in their own ways. I would recommend them HIGHLY. The kids at school are loving Sam Wu, and I know so many of my blogger pals are a fan of Wing Jones. I can’t wait for them all to meet Reiko!
Northern YA Lit Fest

Northern YA Literary Festival

University of Central Lancashire, in association with their new BA in Publishing, are hosting The Northern Young Adult Literature Festival on Saturday 24th March 2018 at 53 Degrees in Preston. Doors open at 10am, with the events staggered throughout the day. Best of all, it’s free!

S x