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 

November in books

Happy December everyone! 

Now that December is here, it’s almost time to start thining about the best books of the year! However, I’m not ready to do that yet. I’m here to share the books I read in November with you!

I’ll be honest with you all. November was a HARD month. I struggled quite a lot with my SAD. Work was tough. I’ve had to do a lot of soul searching and thinking. I’ve had to do a bit of crying. I’ve not read that many books because my brain just wasn’t in the right frame of mind. I was getting home and just wanted to climb into bed. I watched a lot of Colleen Ballinger videos because she seems like she’s the loveliest. That was easier for my brain than reading and that’s OK. I’m glad I managed to get through some books though, so that’s good! I got to read 2 of my most anticipated books in November and THAT WAS DELIGHTFUL.

MG books I read in November

I’m a massive fan of the Polar Bear Explorer’s series, so spotting Explorers on Black Ice Bridge in Waterstones filled me with ABSOLUTE delight. I read it in a matter of hours and it made me so happy. You’ll find my review here – I’d love it if you could check it out! 

I also managed to get my hands on my DELIGHTFUL FRIEND L.D.Lapinski’s debut MG novel, The Strangeworlds Travel Agency, thanks to my brilliant friend Adele. I DEVOURED it in a matter of hours… I had to pace myself because otherwise it was going to be over too quickly and FRIENDS. It is EXCEPTIONAL. It’s out next year and it’s available to preorder at all of the places. If you’re after something magical, fun, inclusive and a proper adventure, you should check it out. A full review is coming… I just need to formulate my thoughts into cohesive sentences. (Also, go follow Lapinski on twitter)

YA books I read in November

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Yes friends, you see that correctly. I was blessed by the book fairies (thank you Simon!) and was sent a proof One of Us Is Next by Karen M. McManus. I read it ALL on Saturday and it blew my mind. It’s SO SO good. I can’t talk about it too much because ALL OF THE SPOILERS WILL FALL OUT OF MY MOUTH. But it’s so good. It’s out in January and you guys need to get on it! (Also, if you’ve not read One of Us Is Lying, then where have you been? and you need to!)

Autobiographical/memoir books I read in November

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I adored This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay, so when I heard there was going to be another one, I knew I needed it. This one is much shorter and it’s just as brilliant. Would completely recommend both books!

And that’s it! That’s all the books I read in November. 

HOW AM I DOING FOR MY BOOK CHALLENGES?

GOODREADS CHALLENGE: 129/52
#52BOOKS CHALLENGE (JUST KIDS BOOKS): 68/52

Thanks for stopping by. Talk to me in the comments!

How did you do with your reading in November?
Did you have a more productive reading month than me?

What were your stand out books from last month?
Have you started thinking about your favourite books of the year yet?

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.

Look Both Ways tweet

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!

Frostheart tweet

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!)

Tilly tweet

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 

October in books

Hello friends!

We are a few days into November now, so it’s about time I share with you what I read in October. I had a more productive reading month in October because of half term and reading dates with some of my favourite people! I do enjoy half term and the fact it allows me to read more. It’s always nice to unwind and unwinding with a book is one of the best ways to unwind. 

october in books

I read kids books, YA books and an autobiography this month! Branching out a little (ha!) is always good for me… although it helps when the autobiography I was reading was from one of the people who I think is the loveliest in the world (more on that later!).

Let’s start with MG books…

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I managed to get through 7 MG books last month. I have to say as well, they are all absolute corkers! I enjoyed each and every single one of them for very different reasons. There’s something for everyone in this pile of MG books. I was absolutely delighted to get my hands on the new Jason Reynolds book because I ADORE Ghost and Patina… and this one does not disappoint! Reviews for all of these books coming in the next few weeks!

Now the few YA books I read…

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I was really chuffed to get through 3 YA books. My TBR pile is definitely a lot more MG than YA at the minute! Saying that, anyone who has been following this blog for long enough will know that seeing The Toll on that list of books is INCREDIBLE. I’ve been pestering the delightful humans of Walker about release since I finished book 2 (last year) and when they sent me a copy, I was over the moon. I’m still formulating my thoughts for that book because it is A LOT. The other two books were also brilliant. Again, reviews for these will be coming in the next two weeks.

Now for the autobiography…

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I don’t think this book will come as a surprise to anyone. I am a MASSIVE Queer Eye fan. I was a massive fan of the original series, but this new series just stole my heart. I think JVN is one of the most amazing people on the planet and this book just confirmed this for me. Can completely recommend this book!

And that’s it.

HOW AM I DOING FOR MY BOOK CHALLENGES?

GOODREADS CHALLENGE: 125/52
#52BOOKS CHALLENGE (JUST KIDS BOOKS): 66/52

This was short and sweet, but thanks for stopping by! Talk to me in the comments!

How did you do with your reading in October? 
What were your stand out books from last month?
What are you still dying to read from this year?

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.

yeti

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: Mother Tongue

Hello friends!

How are you on this here Tuesday? I hope you’re having a lovely day, or if you’re having a troubling day, this wonderful post from author Patricia Forde might cheer you up a little! Looking at the inspiration behind her new book, Mother Tongue, this post was a proper delight to have arrive in my inbox! I hope you enjoy and check out details of this brilliant book at the end of this post!

The inspiration behind Mother Tongue

mothertongue

It’s only when a novel is written, and left to cool for a while, that I understand what inspired it. While I am writing it, I am just telling a story, following a trail of breadcrumbs, with no idea where they will lead.

Inspiration, I find, comes from experience. It bubbles up from a  lasagne of conversations had, emotions felt, stories enjoyed and news events witnessed, layer upon layer, over all the years of your life. Where did the inspiration come from for Mother Tongue?

I grew up speaking two languages, English and Irish. English was my mother tongue but I went to a total immersion Irish language school at the age of four and soon became fluent in my second language. Irish is a minority language even if it is the first official language of Ireland. I live on the edge of Connemara where the Irish language is still a living language, albeit a struggling one. In Galway, the capital city of the west, you can hear Irish spoken every day on the streets. I have friends with whom I only speak Irish. I write in Irish and I often dream in Irish. But the list of words that we use as Irish speakers is getting shorter. Year in and year out, people proclaim  that the language is dying or dead which always reminds me of Mark Twain when he said:

The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.

It is true that the majority language, English, cannibalises our sentences with a vigorous appetite, but the old tongue battles on and there are green shoots with more and more parents sending their children to total immersion schools.

Nonetheless, I became aware at an early age that this language that I love was on the endangered list. I started to wonder how it would end.  How many words would we need to survive? Looking back, that was probably when the idea for The Wordsmith was conceived.

In The Wordsmith, and in its companion novel Mother Tongue, words are controlled.  The story is set in a place called Ark. In Ark, music is banned, art is banned and the language of Ark is List – a list of five hundred approved words.  The idea of a list of words, of words being taken away, definitely came from my experience with the Irish language.

Where I live also influenced the story from an environmental point of view. Writers are often advised to put their seat in the chair if they want to make good work, but sometimes I think you have to get up, and have a look around, to keep yourself inspired.

We live ten kilometres north-west of Galway city, with Connemara to the west of us, and the Burren in Co. Clare to the south. Both are exquisitely beautiful places, and both very fragile environmentally. Connemara is a unique and very special part of County Galway. It is situated on the edge of Europe, and features breath-taking scenery, a rugged wild coastline, dramatic mountains, volatile lakes and rivers, peaceful woodlands, and a National Park. Its coastline has been trounced by the Atlantic for millions of years and it bears the scars with rugged dignity.

The Burren in Co. Clare is a totally different proposition and no less beautiful.

 If you have never been to The Burren, you have to imagine a desert of limestone, but in that desert, rare living things and echoes of times long gone abound. The Burren is home to 70% of Ireland’s 900 native plant species including Gentian, Cranesbill, Rock Rose, Mountain Aven and Orchids. In Spring, wildflowers create splashes of vivid colour on the grey limestone palette.

 It’s also an outdoor museum with over 80 tombs scattered across it’s moon-like face, dating from the Mesolithic era right through the Iron Age. It’s a magical place and a fragile one. I am no scientist but I’ve been reading about threats to the Burren. If I understand correctly, if temperatures continue to rise, there is a fear that the rate of  limestone dissolution will increase, and that may sound the death knell for the life that clings to it. I do know that we are seeing more severe storms and flooding in this part of the world of late and that can’t be good news for the delicate spring flowers that cling to the limestone rocks.

I love to visit the Burren, not just for its physical beauty, but for its silence and its haunting atmosphere. There’s something about being there that reminds you about all the other people who have walked on the rocks, looked out at the sea, crouched down to see a tiny blue flower nestled in a cradle of grey rock and passed it all on to us.

The novels I wrote are set in a place where all of that had been destroyed, swallowed by the sea. When I am writing, I’m always trying to tap into emotion, and I used images from the Burren to remind me of what Letta and her cohorts had lost. The thought filled me with loneliness and I tried to put that into the sentences.

Inspiration comes from lots of different sources but mostly it comes from the things that effect you most. Creativity needs input. Sometimes to be inspired, you have to get your seat out of the chair and let yourself be amazed.

Mother Tongue is the sequel to the brilliant The Wordsmith. Perfect for readers 11+. These books are set in a world where a new dictator wants to silence speech forever. It’s Letta’s job as a wordsmith to keep words alive. She works out in the woods teaching children language, music and art. When things start to go wrong, it is Letta’s job to try and save the very people she’s been teaching… and maybe risk her own life in the process!

MT Blog Tour CORRECTED

A massive thank you to publishers, Little Island Books, for sending me a review copy of this book and for inviting me to be on the blog tour. I’ve loved discovering more about this world and I can’t wait to share my review of this book in the coming weeks! You guys are in for a treat with this book!

What would you do if someone was trying to silence everyone?
What words would you miss most?
What words would you want to get rid of?

Talk to me in the comments and I’ll share the one word I’d get rid of first!

S x 

 

September in books

Hello there everyone!

How are we doing? Happy October to you all!

Now, I’ll be honest with you, I’m not a massive fan of this time of year because I do NOT like the dark mornings and dark nights. Plus, I am NOT a fan of Halloween. So you know… if we could just skip October and go to Christmas time, that would be LUSH! 

I’m here today to share the books I got reading in September! I was very surprised that I managed to read as many as I did… although I am VERY sad I didn’t read any YA. I’m hoping October will change that!

In September, I:

Got back to school
Was tired every single day
Studied The Day The Crayons Quit with my class (and loved it)
Mourned the loss of the sunshine and the light mornings
Discovered my love for illustrated chapter books 
Got to introduce my new class to some brilliant authors
Read 9 books

I only read MG books, so I guess that’s where we’re starting (and ending!)

september mg

I had an awful lot of fun with these stories in September. Meeting new characters and new settings, being reacquainted with some favourites and discovering some wonderful new authors! This is a gorgeous mix of books which would cater to new readers and established readers. 

The Battle For Perfect Review
Reviews of illustrated chapter books

Reviews for Amelia Fang and International Yeti collective to come next week: watch this space!

And that’s it. Fingers crossed I read more YA in October, but I’m very much enjoying reading whatever it is that I want! 

HOW AM I DOING FOR MY BOOK CHALLENGES?

GOODREADS CHALLENGE: 114/52
#52BOOKS CHALLENGE (JUST KIDS BOOKS): 59/52

This was short and sweet, but thanks for stopping by! Talk to me in the comments!

How did you do with your reading in September? 
What were your stand out books from last month?
What are you still dying to read from this year?

What would you recommend me from your 2019 reading list?

S x 

Why do you read so many children’s books?

Hello friends!

You’ve clicked on a blog post with a question as the title, so I guess you want to know my reasons behind the question. Well, settle in for a little lesson in Why Steph reads Children’s Books and Some Recommendations.

chns bks

Well… this all stems from the fact that I read this book by Katherine Rundell recently, and it made me think. It made me wonder why more people DON’T read children’s books. Let’s be honest, they’re BLOODY MARVELLOUS. If you’re reading this blog post, or if you’re a frequent reader of my blog, you know that I think this about kids books. They’re a big part of my life and not just because I’m a teacher and a blogger. I’d read kids books even if I weren’t those things. If you’ve not read the book below, please go out and purchase it for yourself – it’s a short essay about why you should be reading children’s books… even if you’re an adult.

So why do I read children’s books? Here’s 9 reasons, with some recommendations to get you started!

They are really fast paced

Adult books can be SO SO SO SLOW. You get half way through and nothing has happened. If you read a children’s book, within the first few pages something has happened and you’re RIGHT into the action.

paced

They’re INTERESTING

Kids books are filled with stories which are interesting. They’ll open your world up to experiences you’ve never had before. They’ll show you places you’ve never been. You’ll meet characters you’ve never met before. They keep moving and keep evolving as you go.

interesting

They have BEAUTIFUL covers

We all love a good bit of shelf appeal and some of the most gorgeous covers in the world are in the children’s book industry. Adult books can be very boring, but step into the children’s section and you’ll get some gorgeous covers which will make you swoon.

covers

They’ll make you think

I love reading a children’s book that brings up some interesting talking points. There’s a whole host of things that children’s books can make you think about. Books create a wonderful platform to open conversations about being kind to the world, kind to each other and kind to yourself.

think

They’re really bloody well-written

Theyre wonderfully formed stories. They’re complex. They’re stories within stories. So gorgeously sculpted that there’s a true artform to it.

well written

They teach empathy beautifully

You’ll live life through the eyes of people you’ve never had the experience of before. You’ll meet characters and have your eyes opened to how the world is lived through their eyes. You’ll fall in love with voices and personalities that you might not experience not reading kids books.

empathy

They are gorgeously rich in language

Pick up any children’s book and you’re instantly reading books which are so rich in vocabulary and language that you’ll come across words you may never have come across before.

language

There’s such a WIDE range of stories and formats out there

Whether you want something in this world, in a fantastical world, a murder mystery or a magic book. If you’re after a graphic novel, or an illustrated chapter book, you’ll find books of all types for all kinds of readers in the world of chapter books.

variety

You’ll be seen

Children’s books have A LONG WAY to go in with this, but there is some wonderful representation out there in children’s books. Characters of all races, sexualities and religions are being written about and that’s important. The more books we read about characters of different backgrounds, the more publishers will realise there’s a NEED and a WANT for books like this.

seen

There are so many other recommendations I have for these different things, but I had to restrict myself. If you want to know more about any of these books, or want more recommendations, please just let me know and I would LOVE to chat with you! Also, most of these books are chapter books, but if you want picture book recommendations, I can do that!

And there you go… the reasons I think eveyrone should be reading children books!Not an exhaustive list of reasons or recommendations, but just some of my favourites!

Do you read children’s books?
Why do YOU think people should read children’s books?
What’s the best children’s book you’ve read recently?

Let’s get this conversation started and get it going so more people branch out and read children’s books… I think they’re just mint.

S x