When life throws you lemons…

find the things you’re most grateful for. 

My little Christmas tree in my classroom. My kids loving doing the Advent calendar. My kids making me smile EVERY DAY. Laughing at the Christmas play (despite the fact I’ve seen it a fair amount of times). Being able to brush myself off. My cousins. My goddaughters. Books. Hot chocolate. Good news. A free slice of banana bread. Having tea with one of my favourite people. Quilliams. Being a Geordie. My brother and his sheer ridiculousness. Nachos, cake and tea. My family. Watching my best friend be brilliant and brave. Book post. Cats. People of twitter being lovely. Blogging. Finding that one song that you need to make you feel better. Little Mix. Cosy scarves. Hilarious Christmas presents. Looking forward to the future. Leaving work after a tiring day, knowing that I’m doing the thing I want to do forever. Being told I’m doing a good job. Overhearing my kids say how much they love coming to school. Singing the songs for the school play in the classroom. Walking into my classroom every single day. The sun. Reading to my kids. Seeing my class and their excitement when I bring in the book they won’t shut up about. Being proud of my kids. Working with some of the best, most supportive people in the world. Reading that book you’ve been waiting months for. New pillows. Books. Always books. 

The Beauty and the Beast Book Tag

batb tag

Y’all know by now that I am utter BATB trash. I love it so much. Belle is my ULTIMATE Disney princess, I think she’s just a wonderful, wonderful person. When I saw the Beauty and the Beast book tag floating around, I knew I needed to engage, because, well, I’m predictable AF. 

‘Tale as Old as Time’ – A popular theme, trope or setting you will never get bored of reading.

I’m not a massive “trope” lover. However, I am a SUCKER for anything romantic. I read a book recently where they were like “oh yeah we know it’s not going to go anywhere” and to everyone around them, it was CLEAR AS DAY something was going on. So yeah. Or the bad boy who is secretly a proper softie. 

Belle – A book you bought for it’s beautiful cover that’s just as beautiful inside too.

Let’s be real, I buy a LOT of books because of their covers. I’m a TOTAL cover fiend. You can’t beat Sara Barnard books though. They have the ultimate sheld appeal – all that metallic sparkly goodness.

Beast – A book you didn’t expect much from but pleasantly surprised you.

Hmmm… this is hard. I don’t know that I have an answer for this one! Let me think about it!

Gaston – A book everyone loves but you don’t.

Oh man, Caraval. Now I don’t NOT love it… but I was just decidely underwhelmed by it. I’m still totally on the fence as to whether I want to read the second one.

Lefou – A loyal sidekick you can’t help but love more than their counterpart.

Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell has some absolutely amazing “sidekicks”. That story is VERY special.

Mrs. Potts, Chip, Lumiér, and Cogsworth – A book that helped you through a difficult time or that taught you something valuable.

Oh man, so so many books. I’m going to have to go for Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig. That book is one that I truly believe everyone should own, or at least read once in their lives.

‘Something There’ – A book or a series that you weren’t into at first but picked up towards the end.

The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green. I struggled so hard to get into this book because the first 80% is just set up. I just found it quite a hard slog… but by the end I was into it.

‘Be Our Guest’ – A fictional character you’d love to have over for dinner.

SO MANY. I’d love to have Belle over most though I reckon.

And there you go! Don’t forget to tag me in any tags you’d like to see me do. Tags are becoming a Friday staple on here! 

Let me know your thoughts! 

S x 

The ‘Totally Should Have’ Tag

Hello again! Just me back with more tag goodness! I’m loving the tag lifestyle here.

I don’t remember where I saw this tag, but I’ve had the notes about thgis tag in my blogging notebook for months so I fitured I would get round to posting it finally! This is the ‘Totally Should Have’ tag, where I weigh in on books that totally should have… something or other!

1. Totally should’ve gotten a sequel

Image result for simon vs. the homosapien agenda

Hmmm… Simon vs the HomoSapiens Agenda. To be fair, I just want a sequel of Simon and Blue goodness because my word I ship that HARD.

2. Totally should’ve had a spin off series

Image result for floored cover

Floored! I would’ve loved to see more about the lives of the crew, especially Hugo (despite the fact I thought he was a dick ha!) or Kaitlyn (cause she was an absolute darling).

3. An author who totally should write more books

Image result for emery lord books

Oooooooooooooh, interesting question! Emery Lord would be one of my candidates! Most of the authors who I think should write more books are currently writing more books, so I don’t know that I can nominate them.

(If you’re reading though Barnard, Salisbury, Evans, Hargrave et al… I mean you lot!)

4. A character who totally should’ve ended up with someone else

I have NO idea for an answer for this question. As a serial shipper, this is something I feel strongly about. Let me get back to you!

5. Totally should’ve ended differently

Image result for thunderhead book

The ending of Thunderhead BAFFLED me. I still loved it, but I just didn’t get it. I’m very much looking forward to the third book… but yeah, BAFFLING.

6. Totally should’ve had a movie franchise

Image result for six of crows duology

I stand firm that Six of Crows deserves a movie or 3.

7. Totally should’ve had a TV show

Image result for the extinction trials

The Extinction Trials by S.M.Wilson would make a great TV series in my opinion.

8. Totally should’ve had only one point of view

Again, this is one where I’m torn because I LOVE multiple perspective books. I don’t think I’ve read one that I didn’t like the other perspective. Some books have TOO MANY perspectives, which BAFFLES me to no end.

9. Totally should have a cover change

ANY COVER THAT HAS A PERSON ON THE FRONT. Not an illustration, but an ACTUAL person. Anyone who knows and has ever been book shopping with me will know that this is very much my least favourite thing about covers.

10. Totally should’ve kept the original covers

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOH. Controversial. I do not know though. I think MOST cover changes are done for the GOOD of the covers having shelf appeal.

11. Totally should’ve stopped at book one

Image result for me before you book

Me Before You. That second book I did not believe AT ALL and haven’t gotten round to reading the third book because I disliked the second one so much.

There we go!

Do you agree with any of my answers? 
What would your answers be?
Have you got any covers that you hate?
DO you agree with me on the “take people off the covers of books”?

Speak to me! Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

S x

 

Wrap up warm!

YOU ASKED FOR IT… so I’m delivering.

This week’s wrap up is all about SCARVES.

How do I wrap up warm in winter?
That is the big question.
When I’m out and about in the cold of Newcastle (because let’s be real it is MOSTLY cold in Newcastle!), how do I keep warm?

I have a very slight, but very real, obsession with scarves. If we’re going to be realistic about life, I have a slight obsession with checked scarves in particular. I have a REAL LOVE for checked scarves.

They’re like a weakness of mine.
I have no shame.

If I’m ever shopping in town, I am instantly attracted to the checked scarves (stripy tops, but checked scarves), in all shapes, sizes and colours. I’m particularly fond of the scarves that are practically so big they could be blankets. 

A very quick persual on this thing called the interwebs and I have seen at least 10 scarves I would happily part with some hard-earned cash for.

Let’s take a look at some, shall we?

Oh man, look at them all. I genuinely don’t know which one is my favourite.
(These are all taken from either Pinterest, ASOS, New Look or Dorothy Perkins). 

In fact, if I think of all of the wooly scarves I own, they are ALL checked. I have a pink and white one; brown and orange one; red and blue one.

In short, I am Steph and I love checked scarves (or checky scarves as I call them). x

The Reader Problems Tag

HAPPY FRIDAY. How are we all? Have we all survived another week? What have we all been up to? Today I come to you with a tag I’ve seen floating around for a while. I don’t recall where I first saw it, but I stole the questions from my friend Aoife’s blog (check it out here)

Let’s go with the “reader problems tag”!

1. You have 20,000 books in your TBR, how in the world do you decide what to read next?

I am 100% a mood reader, so I will read whatever I am in the mood to read. If I HAVE to read a book, I am so much less likely to actually enjoy reading it.

2. You’re halfway through a book and you’re just not loving it. Do you put it down or are you committed?

I’m a finisher. I’m stubborn. I will finish a book through thick and thin. Unless I GENUIENLY can’t wade through any more of it, I’ll stick by it.

3. The end of the year is coming and you’re behind on your reading challenge, do you try to catch up? And if so, how?

I’ll just keep reading? If I get to my target, great. If not, no one died because I didn’t read the books I said I would… so it’s all gravy.

4. The covers of a series you love do. not. match. How do you cope?

Lol, I’ll cope because I HAVE TO. If the publishers then release the series with matching covers, you KNOW I will be buying the matching covers. I’m all for matching.

5. Everyone and their mother loves a book that you do not. Who do you bond with over your shared feelings?

Tbh, I’ll survive. I have a merry band of book loving friends who will listen to me. We have differences of opinions on books and that’s cool.

6. You’re reading a book in public and you’re about to start crying. How do you deal?

Cry, lol. I always tell the story of coming back from YALC last year, when I was reading The Last Wild by Piers Torday (brilliant MG book, would recommend to all of the humans) and I was genuinely bawling. The man beside me tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I was OK because I was crying so hard, ha!

7. The sequel to a book you loved just came out but you’ve forgotten a lot of what happens. Are you going to reread it?

Not likely. I might reread my review or check out the synopsis on the internet. Or I’ll ask one of my friends to remind me of the plot.

8. You do not want anyone to borrow your books, how do you politely say no when someone asks?

I don’t generally say no? I dunno, my books are very precious to me… but I wouldn’t deny someone.

9. You have picked up and put down 5 books in the last month. How do you get over this reading slump?

I’m not often in a slump, but if I ever am… I try and read something OUT of that type. I’ll read an MG if YA isn’t tickling my fancy, and vice versa.

10. There are so many books coming out that you are dying to read, how many do you end up buying?

Most of them? I work hard for my money, so why shouldn’t I treat myself?

11. After you purchase all of these books that you’re dying to read how long do they sit on your shelves before you get to them?

It all depends on WHO it is and how much time I’ve been waiting (Salisbury, Barnard, Evans… I’m looking at you!)

If you fancy taking on this tag, go for it! I’d love to hear your thoughts on my answers!

S x

Happiness is…

Opening the door to my classroom. Positive feedback. Seeing how much progress my kids have made. Pictures from my kids. Reading books. Fenwicks Christmas Window. Texts that make me smile. Livin on a Prayer. The future. Reading books and knowing EXACTLY who to recommend them to. handing over the perfect book to a child and them just GLOWING with joy. Good morning texts. Listening to the radio in the classroom. Breakfast with my best friends. Chairing a panel with two authors I admire most in the world. My friends being happy for me. The pride you feel for your friends. Watching SimplyNailogical videos. Real pockets in trousers. Laughing with my mam. Seeing my twiglets. Going back to work and seeing the smiles on my kids’ faces. The run up to Christmas. Singing stupid songs. Newcastle United winning (finally). Spending time with my favourite Welsh human in the world. My reading rainbow display. Laughing and chatting with my TA. Doing the thing I love doing. Getting back to blogging. Being wrapped up warm with a cup of tea and a book. Books. Always books. My kids. Always my kids. 

An EPIC book tag!

Hello pals! I saw this tag on My Little Book Blog and thought “you know what I want to do? Answer 50 questions about books” (ha!) so here we go… I hope you have a cup of tea at the ready or something! (In fact, let me know what kind of tea you have… and if you have a biscuit!)

1. What was the last book you read?
The last book I finished was Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman.

2. Was it a good one?
I really enjoyed it! I want the next book now!

3. What made it good?
It was amazing to be back in that world, and they’re brilliantly paced.

4. Would you recommend it to other people?
Absolutely! Read Scythe first though!

5. How often do you read?
I’d say daily! There’s odd days where I don’t read, but I aim to read every day.

6. Do you like to read?
No, it’s the worst (LOL)

7.What was the last bad book you read?
Bad book? OOOH. The only one that springs to mind is The Smoke Thieves… but only because it takes 80% of the book to get anywhere.

8. What made you dislike it?
It’s just a bit slow. I did get to the end and think “ah that wasn’t too bad”, it just took SO LONG to get anywhere.

9. Do you wish to be a writer?
I go between yes and no for this. I love writing, but I don’t think I’ll ever write anything publish-worthy.

10. Has any book every influenced you greatly?
Yes, 100%.

11. Do you read fan fiction?
I used to.

12. Do you write fan fiction?
Nope!

13. What’s your favorite book?
Ever? Matilda.

14. What’s your least favorite book?
Ever? WHO EVEN KNOWS.

15. Do you prefer physical books or ready on a device (like a kindle)?
Physical books > kindle. I love my kindle, but I’m a bigger fan of reading physical books.

16. When did you learn to read?
I do not know the answer to this, but I’d presume when I was at school?

17. What is your favorite book you had to read in school?
1984. We did it for GCSE English and I bloody loved it.

18. What is your favorite book series?
The Sin Eater’s Daughter series by Melinda Salisbury.

19. Who is your favorite author?
REALLY? That’s the worst question.

20. What is your favorite genre?
Fantasy… but not high fantasy. I’m all about magic and potions and poison.

21. Who is your favorite character in a book series?
Jin from Rebel of the Sands for aesthetically pleasing reasons. Twylla from The Sin Eater’s Daughter series for badass. Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows for wit.

22. Has a book ever transported you somewhere else?
Every time I open a book.

23.Which book do you wish had a sequel?
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Tbf, I just want a book all about Simon and Blue.

24. Which book do you wish DIDNT have a sequel?
Oh, I’m a massive fan of sequels, so I dunno if there’s going to be one I could name.

25. How long does it take you to read a book?
How long is a piece of string? Genuinely though, it depends on so many factors.

26. Do you like when books become movies?
I don’t watch that many movies so I don’t know that I have that many opinions.

27. Which book was ruined by its movie adaptation?
Again, I don’t know that I have enough experience in this to give you an answer.

28. Which movie has done a book justice?
I loved Me Before You – both the film and the book. So let’s go with that.

29. Do you read newspapers?
Yes?

30: Do you read magazines?
Not very often!

31. Do you prefer newspapers or magazines?
It depends what I’m after.

32. Do you read while in bed?
I’d say 70% of my reading happens in bed.

33. Do you read while on the toilet?
No?

34. Do you read while in the car?
I’m not in a car often enough to read in it.

35. Do you read while in the bath?
I’m not much of a bath person, I much prefer showers. It is not recommended to read in the shower.

36. Are you a fast reader?
Other people say I am, so I guess so?

37. Are you a slow reader?
Nope!

38. Where is your favorite place to read?
On a train or a bus.

39. Is it hard for you to concentrate while you read?
Concentrate on reading? No. I’m generally only focused on reading as I read.

40.Do you need a room to be silent while you read?
Ha, this is where I’m a bit bizarre. If I’m on a bus/train, I need noise. But if I’m at home, then it has to be silent.

41. Who gave you your love for reading?
I’ve never not been surrounded by books.

42. What book is next on your list to read?
I’m currently reading The Boneless Mercies by April Tucholke.

43. When did you start to read chapter books?
I remember reading Matilda and The Secret Garden when I was like 7 or 8, so probably just before then!

44. Who is your favorite children’s book author?
You can’t beat Roald Dahl, but of recent years? Maz Evans, Kiran Milwood Hargrave, Ross Mackenzie, Abi Elphinstone.

45. Which author would you most want to interview?
Anna James – I’ve had the joy of meeting her at events, but I’d love to sit down and have a chat with her.

46. Which author do you think you’d be friends with?
I’d love to be friends with Chloe Coles – she’s hilaarious.

47.What book have you reread the most?
There’s only one book I’ve ever reread… Matilda.

48. Which books do you consider “classics”?
Books written a canny few years ago. I’m not really a reader of classics.

49. Which books do you think should be taught in every school?
OH THIS IS A GOOD QUESTION, which right now I don’t have an answer for. But this could be a good question for a blog post!

50. Which books should be banned from all schools?
Should any books be banned? This is an interesting question. I shall mull over it. “Banning” books doesn’t sit well with me.

 

And there we have it! I will be WELL IMPRESSED if anyone managed to stick with me through those 50 questions. Let me know if you did, you deserve a sticker!

S x

Giving a part of yourself…

This past weekend, I was at an amazing day of CPD centred all around reading. At this conference, Piers Torday spoke and said something that has stuck with me, something I hadn’t even thought of, but something that I think is so true. It’s one of those quotes that just hits the nail on the head and then resounds with you for a long time.

“Recommending a book is like giving a part of yourself”

(It wasn’t those exact words, but it was that sentiment nonetheless)

Let that sit with you for a little moment. I’m a day in from hearing that quote (as I write this blog post) and it still blows my mind a little.

I think it’s so important to remember that recommending books is something that happens naturally. We enjoy a book, we want to tell people we enjoyed the book, we hope they also enjoy the book. The act of recommending isn’t the bit that’s scary, it’s the other bit. It’s the someone reading the book and seeing a little bit into who you are. 

Recommending books reveals so much about who you are. Whether that’s as a reader, a person, a thinker, a doer. Recommending books (for either OMG I LOVED IT or MEH it wasn’t for me reasons) reveals so much about your self – the characters and actions you approve of, the ones you question, the stories you relate to. Revealing these things can be quite a scary thing.

We’ve all that terrifying moment of recommending one of our favourite books to someone and “OMG what if they don’t like it?“. I don’t think it’s the “what if they don’t like the book?” bit that scares us, it’s the “this book meant something to me, I hope that person can see it and doesn’t then judge me for it” bit (for me it is anyway, I shan’t generalise).

What you’re saying when you recommend a book to someone is essentially “there’s something in this book that speaks to who I am, deep down, and I don’t mind you seeing it, finding it, exploring it, knowing it about me”. That’s massive.

There’s something very personal about recommending a book to someone, but it’s very liberating. It can open doors, conversations, perspectives that you might never have lived before. 

S x

If it makes you happy…

I’ve done 4 weeks of teaching now, so I feel this is a good time to write another happy things post.

Walking into my classroom every single morning. Having my own classroom. My kids drawing me pictures. Feedback from my first observation. The culture of caring in the classroom. Laughing with my kids. Making my kids laugh. Watching a lesson just take off on a completely random tangent, but the kids learning much more from that than they would’ve done my plan. Having confidence to go with my gut, rather than a piece of planning. Setting routines. Being able to call my classroom MY classroom. Watching my kids make progress. Seeing friendships blossom. Watching their kindness and consideration for each other. Hearing their conversations. Getting lovely feedback from parents. Recommending a book and hearing it was a 9/10. Showing persistence and finally making breakthroughs. Watching my kids succeed at something they struggled with. Listening to Frank Sinatra songs and my kids thinking he’s “cool”. Believing in each and every one of them. Reading our class novel at the end of the day. Celebrating our collective worship with the rest of the school. How keen they are to do well. How well they persevere. Their sheer determination. Their enthusiasm about Journey. Their enthusiasm about poetry. Their happy faces every day. My happy face every day. That tired, exhausted teacher feeling. Knowing I’m doing the one thing I’ve always wanted to do. 

What’s in my bag?

My brilliant friend Cora mentioned that she was doing a “What’s in my bag?” blog post and I thought this was a great idea. It’s not quite bookish BUT because I’m a nebby person, I’d love to see what is in everyone’s bags. I thought I’d start by sharing my bag!

img_3731

This is my trusty backpack. I got it in the Accessorize sale last year and I really love it. It’s a lovely grey colour and it’s just big enough to fit everything I need in. I do think I’m going to have to change it out for a bigger bag soon though, it doesn’t hold anything particularly big!

img_3726

This is all of the stuff that I carry in my backpack on a daily basis (excluding my phone and my headphones!)

img_3730

First up and most importantly: I always carry a book! My book lives in the FairyLoot bag for safe keeping (on the day I took these pictures I actually was carrying 2 books in my bag, I’m not sure why either!). As well as a book, there’s my sunglasses (prescription sunglasses are a game changer kids), an umbrella (it’s Newcastle, it’s autumn… rain will happen), chewing gum and a surprise chocolate bar! (These mint chocolate bars are exceptional, go treat yourself to one!)

img_3727

Next up, some life essentials. My purse (I got in a few years ago in the Cath Kidston sale, it was a pure bargain), my bus pass, my Oyster card and my portable charger. I generally don’t go anywhere without these things. Apart from my phone, my bus pass is the most important thing I carry around with me.

img_3728

You know you’re a teacher when… you carry around a million pens. The last time I cleared out my bag I found 18 pens (18 yes, what do I think I need that many pens for?!) This time round we have 11 pens… which is still a fair few. Also the obligatory receips and a pay slip from February (why is it still in my bag?!)

img_3729

It seems the majority of my bag is made up of these things. I am not sure why I have 2 different hand sanitisers or 4 different lip balm type products… I recently added the make up wipes to my bag because I am a lover of finding new lipstick shades (the NYX lipstick there is one of my most recent acquisitions… I am a lover of NYX products) and walking around with lipstick on my hand was never a good look. There’s the standard deodorant and body spray too. Plus some glass nail files which I am a complete convert to! I love that hand cream too – I have one in my bag, one in my bedroom and one in my classroom!

And there you go! A very quick, whistlestop tour of my handbag. I hope you enjoyed it! I was surprised there weren’t more receipts or rubbish to get rid of!

S x