“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

BOOK BLOG: Matt Haig

The Truth Pixie: poetic, charming and inspiring.

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

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

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

img_3938(look at that spine man… swooooon)

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

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

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

My goodreads review:

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

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

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

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

 S x

The Superlatives book tag

Hello! Happy Tuesday everyone. 

Today, I’ve been tagged by the lovely Kelly (of Kelly’s Rambles) to take part in the ‘Superlatives book tag’. Now, as many of you know Kelly is one of my best friends and we share quite a similar bookish reading taste, so when I read her post I was like “YOU’VE STOLEN SO MANY OF THE BOOKS I WOULD CHOOSE”so if you’re interested in knowing other choices that I would’ve made, then check out Kelly’s post

I’m a big fan of a tag because I think they’re super fun! Don’t forget I’ve created my own tag – The Friends Tag – that you can join in with, or you can guest post on my blog too!

Here we go… I’m going to go with books I’ve read in 2018 to fulfil these prompts!

MOST LIKELY TO BE IN THE MOVIES: THE BOOK THAT WOULD MAKE THE BEST MOVIE

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I can’t not say Six of Crows. I would ABSOLUTELY love to see this made into a film. It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year and I would love to see Kaz on screen. Kaz and his merry bunch of Dregs. I think Six of Crows would make an incredible film. Can someone make this happen please?

BIGGEST DRAMA QUEEN/KING: THE MOST (OVERLY) DRAMATIC BOOK OR CHARACTER

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There’s characters in All of this is True that I couldn’t get away with because they were just a bit OTT for me. Like, this book never did quite catch up for me. 

BEST DRESSED: THE BOOK WITH THE BEST COVER

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I can’t not go for Clean. I mean, look at that rose gold goodness. *swoon*

MOST CREATIVE: THE BOOK WITH THE MOST UNIQUE PLOT, CHARACTERS, & STRUCTURE

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I don’t think I’ve read anything quite as spooky, sciencey and underwater-y as The Secret Deep. I absolutely adored it. Lindsay Galvin has written an ABSOLUTE winner here. I implore you all to read it. 

MOST POPULAR: THE BOOK WITH THE MOST RATINGS ON GOODREADS

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I finished Northern Lights recently and it has a whopping 1,082,925 ratings on Goodreads! 

MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED: THE BOOK THAT IS GOING TO BE APPRECIATED FOR MANY YEARS TO COME

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Matt Haig writes the most amazing books. I think his books have incredible staying power and as long as there’s technology in our lives, Notes on a Nervous Planet also has a place in our lives. 

CLASS CLOWN: THE BOOK THAT MADE YOU LAUGH OUT LOUD

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Maz NEVER fails to make me laugh. Who Let The Gods Out? series is one I could’ve used to answer the prompt before too. Beyond the Odyssey is hilarious. Everyone I know who I’ve made read the series have said they’ve loved them. Please go out and check them out. They will, I promise, make you laugh, a lot. 

MOST IMPROVED: THE BOOK THAT STARTED OFF SLOW, BUT REALLY PICKED UP

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It took me a WHILE to get into The Smoke Thieves, but once you’re into the action, it’s very much there. There’s a lot going on in this book, with many points of view, but stick with it… 

CUTEST COUPLE: CUTEST COUPLE IN A BOOK

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Holly and Ed from My Box-Shaped Heart are just lush. I can’t say any more than that. Their whole situation made me smile a lot. 

BIGGEST HEARTBREAKER: THE BOOK THAT BROKE YOUR HEART

(LOL, they all do, all the time)

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Ah man. A Thousand Perfect Notes? More like a thousand tears of sadness. Even now thinking about it makes me a bit emotional. It’s just harrowing. 

And there we have it! My 2018 books I’ve read superlatives list! 

I’m not going to tag anyone because everyone I know has already been tagged… but if you fancy it, have a go!

Let me know in the comments if you agree with any of my choices, or what you’d change!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Matt Haig

Notes on a Nervous Planet: like reading a book from your clever and caring friend

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“The world is messing with our minds.
Rates of stress and anxiety are rising. A fast, nervous planet is creating fast and nervous lives. We are more connected, yet feel more alone. And we are encouraged to worry about everything from world politics to our body mass index.
– How can we stay sane on a planet that makes us mad? 
– How do we stay human in a technological world?
– How do we feel happy when we are encouraged to be anxious?
After experiencing years of anxiety and panic attacks, these questions became urgent matters of life and death for Matt Haig. And he began to look for the link between what he felt and the world around him.”

I’m a massive fan of Matt Haig’s work (both fiction and non-fiction) so when I found out there was going to be a “follow up” to Reasons to Stay Alive, I knew I had to get my hands on it. (I use that term loosely as it’s not really Reasons to Stay Alive 2, it’s more a companion, a friend). Notes (as I will refer to this book as because it’s shorter to type and shorter to read for you all!) explores the world – our technologically savvy, somewhat dependent world – and what the crutches of social media, technology and abundance are doing to us as a world. 

You’ve probably just read that and thought ‘OH MY WORD, what a depressing sounding book’ and you’d be wrong. Notes is enlightening, it’s uplifting, it’s brilliant. As someone who has a presence online, I am aware of the fact that my phone is never far from me, that I tweet a lot, that my instagram is updated regularly… so reading this was something that I think was the beginning of something for me: awareness. An awareness of the fact that this morning I scrolled and refreshed twitter 4 times before I realised that really nothing was going to happen if I didn’t refresh twitter. That’s what this book is all about: awareness. 

There’s a chapter in this book from the perspective of the beach. Yep, you read that right… the beach. It might be one of my favourite chapters from the book. The beach doesn’t care what you look like, it doesn’t care if you have a “beach-ready body”. It’s a beach. It’s sand and water. The beach doesn’t need you to be ready, it just needs you to be there (and even then it doesn’t NEED us to be there!) 

I’d recommend this book to everyone. Whether you’re a social media fan, a Matt Haig fan or not. It’s not a book that I can sing and dance about because it’s not a book that sings and dances itself – it’s a book that’s a bit like a friend. It’s there, imparting wisdom, some silliness and some comfort – all of the things that I love about Matt Haig’s books.  

To coincide with the release of this book, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a ticket to go listen to Matt talk about this book at Newcastle Central Library. It was a great night and Matt even read the chapter from the beach, which definitely made me chuckle. This is the second time this year I’ve met Matt and he was just as wise and charming as the first time! 

Massive thank you to Waterstones Newcastle for bringing Matt back to Newcastle! 

If you’re interested in any of my other reviews of Matt Haig books, check them out:

Have you read any Matt Haig books?
Have you read Notes on a Nervous Planet?
Do you, like me, get super nervous when meeting authors?!

Let me knw your thoughts in the comments! 

S x

S4S – Authors I discovered in 2017

Hello there everyone!

How are we all? How is your Sunday going? Are you here to check out my #SixforSunday? Or are you here to check out my other posts from this week? Well come in, you’re more than welcome, whatever the answer! 

Today is another #SixforSunday post! Today’s post is all about:

Six authors I discovered in 2017

So, 6 authors I discovered in 2017 that I’d never read before. Some of these names may surprise you, some may not! Lets get on with it…

  1. Matt Haig
    Matt Haig was my most read author in 2017. I think I read 5 or 6 of his books. I absolutely adore his books and I got the chance to meet him earlier this month. I can’t wait for more from him. Go check out his books if you’re not already acquainted with them.
    BOOKBLOG: Matt HaigBOOKBLOG: Matt Haig
  2. Katie Webber
    The author of the ever so gorgeous Wing Jones. I absolutely adored Wing and I can not wait to see what is coming next from Katie. She’s just brilliant as an author and a person.
    BOOKBLOG: Katherine Webber
  3. Alice Broadway
    Another debut from 2017 whose writing I absolutely fell in love with. If you haven’t read Ink then you really really need to. It’s one of my favourite books from last year. I can’t wait for Spark to come out later this year.
    BOOKBLOG: ALICE BROADWAY
  4. Maz Evans
    Yes, I know. I talk about Maz a lot, but I absolutely ADORE Maz and her books. Who Let The Gods Out and Simply The Quest are 2 of my fave kids books of 2017. They’re FIRM faves in the school library too!
    BOOKBLOG: Maz EvansBOOK BLOG: Maz Evans
  5. Emma Carroll
    I fell in love with Letters from the Lighthouse in 2017. I think I read it twice. I bought copies for the school library, for the Year 6 teacher and one of my friends. That’s how much I loved it.
    BOOKBLOG: Emma Carroll
  6. Stephen King
    Now, bear in mind I only read 1 Stephen King book in 2017 BUT I really loved it. I need to go ask my friends at Waterstones to give me more recommendations, because I think I’d like to read another one!
    BOOKBLOG: Stephen King

So there you go! Six authors I read for the first time in 2017. Definitely check them all out if you haven’t already! 

If you’re partaking in this week’s prompt, remember to share using #SixforSunday! Tweet me your link and I’ll check it out!

S x

Perfect Presents #2

Yesterday, was the first of my “Perfect Presents” series! I hope you enjoyed my recommendations for brilliant picture books to buy! I would love to know if you have bought any of them for the little people in your life! 

Today’s perfect presents post is all about:

Perfect MG books

(Now this could be a LONG post, 2017 has been an exceptional year for MG books… bear with me!)

Christmas Dinner of Souls – Ross Montgomery
(review to come!)

“It’s a dark and lonely Christmas Eve in the dining room of ancient Soul’s College. The kitchen boy, 11-year-old Lewis, has helped prepare a highly unusual meal, made with unrecognisable ingredients, cooked by a mysterious chef. And then the guests arrive … and carnage ensues. For this is the annual meeting of a secret club for those who despise children, warmth, happiness, and above all Christmas. Each member must try to outdo the others by telling the most terrible, disgusting story they know. A spooky, shocking, bloodthirsty alternative to festive cheer that will appeal to, fascinate and delight young readers.”

Letters from the Lighthouse – Emma Carroll
(BOOKBLOG: Emma Carroll)

“February, 1941. After months of bombing raids in London, twelve-year-old Olive Bradshaw and her little brother Cliff are evacuated to the Devon coast. The only person with two spare beds is Mr Ephraim, the local lighthouse keeper. But he’s not used to company and he certainly doesn’t want any evacuees. Desperate to be helpful, Olive becomes his post-girl, carrying secret messages (as she likes to think of the letters) to the villagers. But Olive has a secret of her own. Her older sister Sukie went missing in an air raid, and she’s desperate to discover what happened to her. And then she finds a strange coded note which seems to link Sukie to Devon, and to something dark and impossibly dangerous.”

Who Let The Gods Out – Maz Evans
(while you’re at it, buy Simply The Quest too!)
(BOOKBLOG: Maz EvansBOOK BLOG: Maz Evans 1)

“Elliot’s mum is ill and his home is under threat, but a shooting star crashes to earth and changes his life forever. The star is Virgo – a young Zodiac goddess on a mission. But the pair accidentally release Thanatos, a wicked death daemon imprisoned beneath Stonehenge, and must then turn to the old Olympian gods for help. After centuries of cushy retirement on earth, are Zeus and his crew up to the task of saving the world – and solving Elliot’s problems too?”

The Polar Bear Explorer’s Club – Alex Bell
(review to come!)

“Join Stella Starflake Pearl and her three fellow explorers as they trek across the snowy Icelands and come face-to-face with frost fairies, snow queens, outlaw hideouts, unicorns, pygmy dinosaurs and carnivorous cabbages… When Stella and three other junior explorers get separated from their expedition can they cross the frozen wilderness and live to tell the tale?”

Father Christmas and Me – Matt Haig
(This is part of a series, buy all of them!)

“It isn’t always easy, growing up as a human in Elfhelm, even if your adoptive parents are the newly married Father Christmas and Mary Christmas. For one thing, Elf School can be annoying when you have to sing Christmas songs every day – even in July – and when you fail all your toy-making tests. Also it can get very, very cold. But when the jealous Easter Bunny and his rabbit army launch an attack to stop Christmas, it’s up to Amelia, her new family and the elves to keep Christmas alive. Before it’s too late . . .”

A Place Called Perfect – Helena Duggan
(BOOKBLOG: Helena Duggan)

“Violet never wanted to move to Perfect. Who wants to live in a town where everyone has to wear glasses to stop them going blind? And who wants to be perfectly behaved all the time? Violet quickly discovers there’s something weird going on, and when she meets Boy she realizes that the mysterious Watchers are guarding a perfectly creepy secret!”

The Bookshop Girl – Sylvia Bishop
(BOOKBLOG: Sylvia Bishop)

“This story is about a little girl named Property Jones, so-called because she was left in the lost property cupboard of a bookshop when she was five years old. Property loves living in the bookshop, but she has a whopper of a secret … she can’t actually read! So Property doesn’t see the newspaper article announcing the chance to win the Montgomery Book Emporium, the biggest and most magnificent bookshop in the world! When her family win the competition, Property finds herself moving to the Emporium, a magical place filled with floor upon floor of books and a very bad-tempered cat. But all is not at it seems at the Emporium and soon Property Jones finds herself in a whole heap of trouble.”

Nevermoor – Jessica Townsend
(review to come!)

“Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day of the year, she’s blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks – and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday. But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away to the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor. It’s then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter wants her to contend for a place in the city’s most prestigious organisation: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart – an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests – otherwise she’ll have to leave and confront her deadly fate once and for all.”

Just like I said yesterday, there are so many SO MANY incredible books out there for kids. Please buy the kids in your life a book. They’re so important and there’s some absolutely incredible books out there! Ask booksellers for recommendations, they’ll have some absolutely choices for you! 

Have you read any of these choices?
Are there any books you’d like to see me review?
Which book would you most like to receive?

Talk to me on twitter, or in the comments! I would love to know what you’re buying for the kids in your life (or even yourself!)

S x

BOOKBLOG: Matt Haig

How To Stop Time: evocative, compelling, thought-provoking

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“Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret.

He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen a lot, and now craves an ordinary life. Always changing his identity to stay alive, Tom has the perfect cover – working as a history teacher at a London comprehensive. Here he can teach the kids about wars and witch hunts as if he’d never witnessed them first-hand. He can try and tame the past that is fast catching up with him.

The only thing Tom mustn’t do is fall in love.”

Having recently read Reasons to Stay Alive I knew I needed more Matt Haig in my life and when I saw this on Netgalley I REQUESTED IT SO FAST. I pondered it a while and when I was accepted I needed to find time to read it. (Luckily, May is my You MAY not buy any books month so I figured I could make a dent in my Netgalley bookshelves!). I am so glad I decided to request it and read it. It broke my heart. It put it back together again. It gave my literary nerd heart things to jump about. It inspired me. It taught me things. 

Tom, a 41 year old man, isn’t like other 41 year olds. In fact he is centuries old. He suffers from a condition that means he’s been around for centuries and that he ages much slower than most people. This means that he’s lived through many centuries of change; through many rulers; on many different continents – but there’s one thing that stays the same, him. Through the book you go on a journey through his life, with flashbacks aplenty. You see his life as it is today – being a history teacher in London – and as it was all of the centuries ago. Through his life he met some literary greats – which pleased my heart so much – and battled through many hardships – disease, love, heart break, death. He’s a character I really had a fondness for: I was definitely sad to say goodbye to him when it came to the end of the book.

You get to meet people from Tom’s life and see how they each shaped him into becoming the man he is now. The woman he fell in love with; the man who saved his life; the friend he tries to save; the kids he teaches; the relationship he has with himself. Each and every person has an impact on our lives and these impacts should be something we are grateful for. People come into our lives and make an impression for a reason – they may not stick around forever but that impression they made on you can be.

I think everyone will take something different from this book – some will think of it as a romance novel, some will think of it as a gimpse into history, some an adventure. To me it was all of those things in one incredibly poignant novel. I can’t wait to read it again and pick up new things that I might’ve missed the first time round.

Bravo Matt Haig. I can’t wait to see what’s next. (And plus, it’s already been picked up for a movie… can’t wait for that!)

Have you read How To Stop Time?
What period of history would you travel back to if you could?

Let me know your answers in the comments, or on twitter (@eenalol).

S x 

BOOKBLOG: Matt Haig

Reasons To Stay Alive: honest, important, emotive.

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“WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO FEEL TRULY ALIVE?

Aged 24, Matt Haig’s world caved in. He could see no way to go on living. This is the true story of how he came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again.

A moving, funny and joyous exploration of how to live better, love better and feel more alive, Reasons to Stay Alive is more than a memoir. It is a book about making the most of your time on earth.

‘I wrote this book because the oldest clichés remain the truest. Time heals. The bottom of the valley never provides the clearest view. The tunnel does have light at the end of it, even if we haven’t been able to see it . . . Words, just sometimes, really can set you free.'”

Reasons to Stay Alive has been sat on my TBR shelf for a while. I’m not a massive reader of NF but there were lots of people talking about this book a while back, so I bought it but it just stayed on my shelf. Until just recently. I needed something a little bit different. I needed something that would hopefully inspire something in me. 

I loved Matt’s sheer frank honesty. There’s no skirting over issues. There’s frank honesty. There’s stories and anecdotes from his toughest times. There’s uplifting stories. There’s conversations he has with himself. There’s flashbacks to his darkest times. There’s the story of the start of it all. Throughout all of it, there’s honesty.

Mental health is something that is becoming more talked about but still not talked about ENOUGH. This book was brave and brilliant. Written in such a way that I devoured it in less than a day. It’s an emotional rollercoaster. I cried. I was angry. Frustrated. Sad. Jubilant. I felt everything. 

There are so many important quotes in this book that I feel I could spend a blog post quoting but I’ll choose a few:

“Hang on in if you can. Life is always worth it”
““Wherever you are, at any moment, try and find something beautiful. A face, a line out of a poem, the clouds out of a window, some graffiti, a wind farm. Beauty cleans the mind.”
“Sit down. Lie down. Be still. Do nothing. Observe. Listen to your mind. Let it do what it does without judging it. Let it go, like the Snow Queen in Frozen.”

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I implore everyone to read this. Even if you don’t suffer from any MH troubles, it’ll open your eyes to those who do. You will know someone who is suffering, possibly in silence. 

My goodreads review simply said:
“It’s important that people talk about mental health and it’s important for people to know that not everyone suffers the same way. I loved this book. I cried a lot.”

Have you read this?
Do you have other NF recommendations like this?

Let me know on twitter (@eenalol) or in the comments, I need more NF in my life!

S x