ThursTag: The TBR tag

Hello friends!

It’s Thursday, so that can only mean one thing: TAG DAY.

Today I’m taking on the TBR tag. Another one from my back log of tags, so if this is yours let me know and I’ll credit you! I’m not really a TBR creator… I’m more of a book collector and then read them when I fancy them kind of gal!

Saying that, let’s go!

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

I have boxes of unread books at the foot of my bed and when I finish a book, I go to the boxes and choose the next book to read! I don’t have a list or anything: it’s just in my head/in those boxes!

Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?

Mostly physical copies of books. My kindle is dead unfortunately (RIP KINDLE).

A book that’s been on your TBR list the longest

I don’t know actually! There’s definitely some books a few years old on that list!

A book you recently added to your TBR

Image result for the shark caller zillah

If we’re talking a book I bought/acquired recently to add to my TBR, I’d have to say The Shark Caller by Zillah Bethell. The brilliant humans of Usborne sent me a copy and I’m so excited to read it!

A book in your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover

35842338. sy475

I’m gonna be honest here and say that I am a COVER MAGPIE. I love a sparkly cover or a beautiful cover. I know you shouldn’t judge books by their covers, but if it’s got a pretty cover I am SO MUCH MORE LIKELY to pick it up. A book that’s clearly only there for its cover is The Surface Breaks (I’m not a Little Mermaid fan particularly).

A book on your TBR that you never plan on reading

I mean I PLAN on reading all of the books on my TBR if we’re being honest… but some I’m going to get around to reading/am much more excited about reading than others.

An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for

Here’s just a few of them… (this was the first 6 that popped into my head!)

A book on your TBR that basically everyone’s read but you

Image result for the hate u give book

There is only one answer for this… THUG.

A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you

Lol, see the answer above!

A book on your TBR that you’re dying to read

I have none of these books in my physical possession yet, but as soon as I do, you KNOW I’ll be reading them. *prays the postman brings me Hold Back The Tide soon*

How many books are on your Goodreads TBR shelf?

93 books on my ‘Want to Read’ shelf, but I don’t really use my ‘Want to Read’ shelf very well. I might actually go through and sort it out now!

And there we go! That was my TBR tag. As we have seen, I don’t have a physical TBR, but there are MANY books I want to read. I mostly haven’t read them yet because I don’t own them/don’t have time (god damn you work)

If you wanna have a go at this, feel free!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Hannah Capin

Foul is Fair: Menacing, reckless and delicious

Image result for foul is fair hannah capin uk cover

“Elle and her friends Mads, Jenny, and Summer rule their glittering LA circle. Untouchable, they have the kind of power other girls only dream of. Every party is theirs and the world is at their feet. Until the night of Elle’s sweet sixteen, when they crash a St. Andrew’s Prep party. The night the golden boys choose Elle as their next target. They picked the wrong girl. Sworn to vengeance, Elle transfers to St. Andrew’s. She plots to destroy each boy, one by one. She’ll take their power, their lives, and their control of the prep school’s hierarchy. And she and her coven have the perfect way in: a boy named Mack, whose ambition could turn deadly.”

When I first heard about this book, I knew I needed to read it. I didn’t know much about it, but the WHOLE premise of it just spoke to me. It sounded like something I would ADORE and man, did I. I have SO MUCH LOVE for this book. It is DELICIOUSLY EVIL. It’s clever. It’s a little bit evil. It’s brilliantly written.

Foul Is Fair tells the story of Elle, a young girl who is sexually assaulted at a party. She’s fearless, smart, cunning and surrounded by a group of friends who will go to the end of the earth for her. This is a dangerous combination for Elle, as she’s out to get revenge. Revenge is the name of her game. She moves schools to be near to the boys who assaulted her and one by one she picks them off. There’s all kinds of dastardly deeds that go on with Elle and her group of friends. 

When I read this book, I didn’t realise (and I don’t know how I didn’t know) that there would be SUCH strong Lady Macbeth/Macbeth vibes, but my god. It made me love this book even more than I did in the first place. Any time anyone asks me about this book I say the same thing

“Imagine Lady Macbeth was a teenage girl who has been sexually assaulted and is out for blood” 

And I think that is SO BLOODY ACCURATE for this book. 

I think Lady Macbeth is one hell of a woman. She’s power-hungry, reckless, dangerous. Add this to a teenage girl who is out for blood and revenge for something that happened to her and you get Elle. 

Elle joins the school that the boys all attend and changes her identity so they don’t know who she really is. She cuts her hair, changes her name to Jade and infiltrates (pretty swiftly) the “popular” gang pretty quickly. Not everyone trusts her. She ends up in the innermost circle of the popular gang pretty quickly and that’s when things start going wrong: when things start happening to the boys. Of course, things aren’t plain sailing for Jade/Elle. She falls for one of the boys in the group. She falls for him hard. She thinks he’s an innocent in the whole thing, so thinks she can trust him. But is he as innocent as he seems in the whole situation?

With her coven at her side, she will stop at nothing to get vengeance for the thing that happened to her. Her friends come up with very clever plans to get to the boys. To get under their skin. To spook them. To hurt them. To make them doubt themselves. 

There are SO MANY parallels between this book and Macbeth. Anyone who is a Macbeth fan will love this (it’s my favourite play). I can’t sing enough of its praise to be able to tell you how menacing and revenge filled this is! 

My Goodreads review:

This book gives me mega strong Lady Macbeth vibes and I am HERE FOR IT. You can’t beat a murderous, rampaging coven of teenage girls seeking revenge. This is on the edge of reckless and menacingly clever. I am here for it.

And there you go! Massive thank you to the publishers, Penguin, for sending me a review copy… I have since made 3 people buy it to read it! If you’ve read this, please talk to me in the comments. I need more people who love it! 

Can you recommend me any Macbeth retellings?
Have you read Fair is Foul?
Do you have a favourite Shakespeare?

S x

BLOG TOUR: Respect

Respect: an informative and approachable way to teach children all about the importance of consent.

IMG_9067

“Your body belongs to you and you get to set your own rules, so that you may have boundaries for different people and sometimes they might change. Like when you hi-five your friends and kiss your kitten, but not the other way round! But consent doesn’t need to be confusing. From setting boundaries, to reflecting on your own behaviour and learning how to be an awesome bystander, this book will have you feeling confident, respected, and 100% in charge of yourself and your body.”

Due to changes in the curriculum and the importance of conversations around consent, it has been added to the PSHE curriculum which all schools must teach. Respect is a wonderful little book which ties in so beautifully with that: it’s child friendly, doesn’t shy away from some tough topics and deals with them with great respect (lol) and isn’t patronising at all. 

IMG_9072

One of the things that I loved most about this book was how it managed to bring to life some of the toughest conversations we might need to have with children around these themes. Using the incredible illustrations, children learn quickly all about these things. It’s fun, it’s playful and most importantly it’s smart: it teaches kids at their level. It’s certainly been a big hit in my Year 6 classroom with quite a few of my children picking it up and then having some tricky conversations and asking some big questions. 

For parents and teachers alike, themes like consent can be really bloody daunting, so teaching them, when appropriate, about these things is an absolute necessity. When you’re able to do it through the medium of a book which children find engaging, that’s when you’ve hit a winner. 

I really do think this book is brilliant and I think it’s an important one for parents and teachers alike to think about. Our kids are a lot more savvy and clued up than I certainly was when I was younger, so we need to equip them with the tools for the world they live in now and this book, while it couldn’t have all of the solutions, is a brilliant tool for kids to have at their disposal. 

IMG_9070

A massive thank you to the publishers for inviting me to be on this blog tour! This book is already a hit at school and I’d love to see more books like this available to children, parents and teachers alike. 

Can you recommend any books around these themes?

Speak to you all soon!

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Jason Reynolds

Sunny: a brilliant story to add to a brilliant series! 

img_1873

Anyone who’s been here before (or follows me on Twitter) will know that I am a MASSIVE fan of the Run series by Jason Reynolds. I have read both Ghost and Patina (spoiler: I loved them both), so when I saw that it was time for Sunny to be out, I needed to get my hands on it. 

This series follows a bunch of 4 runners who are part of the same running team. They’re 4 diverse characters who are dealing with a whole host of different things in their lives and they have running as some kind of escape from their lives.

These books are wonderful books for Year 5s/Year 6s to read when they want something a bit more meaty to deal with. There’s some mature themes dealt with in them, but they’re done brilliantly. 

Anyway, let’s get on with talking about Sunny!

“When Sunny stops running in the middle of a race, Coach asks him what he wants to do instead. His answer is dance, but you can’t be on a track team and dance… can you? With his dad’s expectations weighing down on him, Sunny finally finds a track event that feels like dancing. But as he practices for this new event, can he let go of everything that’s been eating him up inside?”

I started reading this book and was instantly met with this wonderful, bright, weird (self-confessed) young man who saw colour and sound in everything in the world. There’s a sound to match everything in Sunny’s world: the way he dances, how people walk, how he runs. He’s writing in his diary because that’s what he does to make the noises stop slightly. His world gets a bit too noisy, and he gets a bit too angry, so he writes in a diary to make these things seem less intimidating. 

You meet this young man who is going through it all. He’s learning about himself and that the image his dad has of him isn’t the image he has of himself. He’s not a runner anymore. He’s tired of running. It doesn’t challenge him. He knows he can run and win. So he just stops. Mid race. He loves dancing. It makes sense to him. It makes him happy. He’s scared to share this with the people around him because it’s not what is expected of him, but when he does share it with Coach, Coach does (of course) use it to show Sunny that there is something he can do that isn’t running: discus throwing. As Coach says “it’s basically dancing”. 

What you get in this story is an exploration of finding out how to be good at something that you’re not naturally good at. How you can blame yourself for something that isn’t your fault. How family will always be family. How grief can appear in adults. How guilt can drive motives. How there’s always light in the world. How hope can be the thing that keeps us moving. 

Sunny is a wonderful main character. He’s so full of pizzazz (is that how you spell that word?!) and he’s so unique. I loved that he was different. He thinks in his own way and reading his diaries was refreshing. It was so lovely to hear his story through his thoughts, through his eyes. His relationship with his dad starts as cold and distant, but as the two grow to learn about each other (with the help of Gramps and Aurelia, who I loved) this begins to change. The last page gave me such feels. There’s some gorgeous moments of gentleness in this story that really punched me in the guts. I think the contrast between his relationship with Coach (who I have adored for 3 books now and I want him to have his own book) and his relationship with dad was interesting. Dad’s arc was gorgeous to read though. Reading adult grieving processes in stories always hits me where it hurts. 

I loved that this book explored the importance of Sunny making decisions for himself, not just proceeding with the decisions made by his parents for him. He does things because he’s trying to fill a hole that he thinks he made. He runs because he’s trying to fill a hole in his dad’s life, where his mum should be. When he gets to the point where he realises that’s not who he is, he makes a decision and just stops. Dead in the middle of a race. He’s tired. He’s tired of being what others think. 

This is a story full of warmth, love, respect and sadness, but also JAM PACKED with hope. Hope that you can be whoever you want to be. Hope that you can do what makes you happy. Hope that even the hardest of times have an ending. Hope that the people around you will support you, even if you don’t think they will.

I can’t wait for the fourth book in this series to come out (later this year I think), but at the same time, I’m not ready for it to be over. I hope Jason Reynolds writes books for many years to come. And I hope Knights Of keep giving me amazing books to read too! 

My Goodreads review:

I love this series so much and getting to know these kids makes me so happy. This deals so gently with grief and how adults deal with it in the background, and in the foreground you’ve got brilliant Sunny who is weird and wonderful and great. He’s a runner, a dancer, a worrier. He’s surrounded by these amazing people and I’m so glad.

Have you read any of the Run series?
Are you following the escapades of Knights Of?
Can you recommend me any books like this?

If you’re not following Knights Of on twitter, please go do that. They are making waves and I just think they’re doing such an amazing job. 

S x

BOOK BLOG: L.D.Lapinski

The Strangeworlds Travel Agency: the start of a complete adventure that I can’t wait to go along on!

Image result for strange world travel agency

“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!

strangeworlds

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

ThursTAG: New Year’s Resolution Tag

Hello friends, 

It is me, your Thursday Tag fairy! I’m here to do New Year’s Resolutions. 

Now, as a human, I’m not big on resolutions because I hate failure haha. Seriously though, that is deep and true. I don’t set them because I may fail doing them. I like them in theory, but I don’t tend to set them. *shrug*

But you’re not here to listen to me drivel on about my deepest darkest thoughts and innermost feelings. You’re here to read the tag. So let’s do it! 

new years resolution tag banner

An author you’d like to read that you’ve never read:

V. E. Schwab. My friend Kelly bought me the Darker Shade of Magic trilogy for my birthday and I haven’t got round to reading them yet, so I really need to get round to that!

A book you’d like to read:

ALL OF THE BOOKS. 

A classic you’d like to read:

*shrug* What constitutes classic? Someone recommend me a classic they think I’ll enjoy please.

A book you’d like to reread:

I’m not a big rereader however I would like to reread 1984. And after reading it in such a greedy reading kind of way, I’d love to read The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D. Lapinski again. 

A book you’ve had for ages and want to read:

God. So many. However THUG probably needs to take that title. 

A big book you’d like to read:

Big books scare the life out of me. I do need to finish Priory of the Orange Tree though. Every time I look at it, it just sneers at me 

An author you’ve previously read and would like to read more of:

All of my favourites. Seriously they all need to just write more books thanks and get them to me ASAP THANKS (because I don’t have enough to read?)

A book you got for Christmas and would like to read:

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. My gorgeous friend Charlotte bought it for me.

A series you want to read from start to finish:

A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy (I think it’s a trilogy). I’ve heard amazing things about them AND I own them all, so I have no excuse really… right?

A series you want to finish that you’ve already started:

Most of the series I have started and not finished is because the rest of the books aren’t out yet. I’m a proper lover of a series and will DEVOUR the books when they come out. Gimme those character arcs and breadcrumbs of knowledge.

Do you set reading goals? If so, how many books do you want to read in 2020?

I do: I always set my Goodreasd challenge at 52 – that’s a book a week. Yes, I always beat it. Yes, it’s more than achieveable, but that’s what I do. I managed 138 books this year which I think is pretty good going. 

Any other reading goals?

Read more of what I enjoy and not feel like I have to read what everyone else is reading just because it’s what’s cool? 

And there you go! My New Years Resolutions tag. Feel free to have a go at this yourself! 

How do you feel about resolutions?
What books are on your list?
Are you a lover of a series like me?

Talk to me in the comments, or I’ll see you over on Twitter! 

S x

Top 10 YA books of the year

As you saw last week, I shared my top 10 MG books of 2019, so today it’s only fair that it is the turn of my favourite other loves: YA books. 

I’m a lot more likely to read outside of my comfort zone in YA books than I am with MG books. I’m not sure why this is! If you go through the shelves of the books that I’ve bought for school, it is a WHOLE chunk of fantasy, whereas with my YA collection, I tend to deviate a bit more. 

There were a few surprises on this list, but in the loveliest way. Books that I read and that clearly made an impact on me when I read them. Like I said with my MG list though, this is not a definitive list because you might ask me again in a month and I might have changed my mind haha. I gave these lists SERIOUS consideration however, so this is PRETTY close to spot on! 

Like in my MG post, I’ll give you a short review of each to go alongside, just to give you a flavour. If you have any extra questions about any of the books, just ask me! These books are all incredible so I will be MORE THAN HAPPY to talk about them!

Right… here goes..

My top 10 YA books of 2019

(again books I READ in 2019 because one of them isn’t out til 2020)

2019 best ya

Song of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury 
(shocker I know)

Dear Lord in the heavens. What is this life? This is EXCEPTIONAL. Mel has done it again. Twists and turns. Characters you’ll love. Characters you’ll hate. Genuine shocks. GOD I JUST LOVED IT.

And The Stars Were Burning Brightly by Danielle Jawando

Friends. This book DESTROYED me.

(Good review Steph…)

With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Loved this. Bloody gorgeous voice and a really interesting plot. I loved Emoni so much. She’s brave, scared and a proper mama bear. I loved her Buela too. This book is like a hearty meal: it leaves you satisfied and warm. Bloody yes.

Fierce Fragile Hearts by Sara Barnard
(another shocker I know)

This book was JUST PERFECT. I felt EVERYTHING: sadness, joy, heartache, anger. I laughed, I cried, I wanted to shout. Sara has written the most incredible story with brilliant messages about doing what’s right for you, being ok being you and the importance of your chosen family – friends, family and the people you surround yourself with. I love that these books don’t shy away from dealing with TOUGH themes.

The Toll by Neal Shusterman

Friends. Enemies. Lovers. Killers. I just can’t tell you how much this book ABSOLUTELY wrecked me. It kept me on my toes, kept me guessing, kept me reading. Neal Shusterman did it again. The final book in the Scythe series and it is incredible. It’s FULL of twists and turns. It’s unexpected. It’s BRILLIANT. I just adored it. Being back in this world again was an absolute delight and I’m so sad it’s over.

The Burning by Laura Bates

This book is INTENSE. But in the BEST WAY POSSIBLE. It’s hard to read, it’s gritty, it’s history and now. It’s girls arguing, it’s online shaming, it’s history repeating. Betrayal, lies, secrets, fresh starts, friendship, honesty. Just bloody magnificent.

Viper by Bex Hogan

Pirate assassins? Magic? Brilliant main character? A dad who is TRULY the worst? Absolutely yes. I adored Bronn and Grace with all that I am. Marianne deserves like the rest of her life to just chill after what she’s been through, but she’s definitely going to have more adventures. I can’t wait for book 2. I really really enjoyed this.

No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter

If I could swear, o would. This book is exceptional. I am/was Emily and there’s nothing more important that seeing yourself in a book. I hope every young girl gets a chance to read it. Loving yourself is SO IMPORTANT. This book made me laugh, cry and want to shout. Just bloody marvellous.

The Boy Who Steals Houses by C.G.Drews

Deary me. Sam – what a pickle you find yourself in. This book is just magnificent. I am a crying mess. This book is hard edges and summers days. It’s light and dark. It’s love and hate. It’s everything I needed. The thing that really makes this book is it’s characters. I just adored every single thing.

A Girl Called Shameless by Laura Steven

Man. What a book. What a story. What a young lady Izzy O’Neill is. I just adore her. This book makes me want to make a stand about everything I see wrong with the world. I love the characters, the messages, the flaws, the worry, the relationships. I CACKLED SO SO MUCH. Just incredible.

Eeeeeh man. There you go. My top 10 YA books of 2019. I have committed now. I have no regrets. All of these books are EXCEPTIONAL. There are many many other YA books that could have been in with a chance of being on this list. In fact, this list was more changeable than the MG list which says something! 

Have you read all of the books on my list?
Did you have a favourite of these books?
Are there any you haven’t read?

I’d love to talk about these books with anyone who will listen! Talk to me in the comments or over on twitter!

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)

2019 mg of the year pic

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 

2019 in books…

Hola amigos!

It is time for my 2019 in books round up. Well, one of them! I’m literally just using THIS POST as inspiration and changing 2018 to 2019. Get yourself a cup of tea and get comfy! I know we technically haven’t finished 2019 yet… but I’m just getting in there early!

**2019 READING STATS**

NUMBER OF BOOKS YOU READ: 138
NUMBER OF RE-READS: 0
GENRE YOU READ THE MOST FROM: FANTASY?

best-YA-books-2014

1. BEST BOOK YOU READ IN 2019?

I REFUSE TO ANSWER THIS QUESTION. 

2. BOOK YOU WERE EXCITED ABOUT & THOUGHT YOU WERE GOING TO LOVE MORE BUT DIDN’T?

The Girls by Emma Cline. I just wanted a lot more from it. It was fine, but I didn’t LOVE it. (I’m always looking for cult books if anyone has a recommendation for me!)

3. MOST SURPRISING (IN A GOOD WAY OR BAD WAY) BOOK YOU READ? 

Sanctuary by V.V.James. I don’t read a lot of adult fantasy books because I generally find them quite hard going, but my god I DEVOURED this book. It is INCREDIBLE.

4. BOOK YOU “PUSHED” THE MOST PEOPLE TO READ (AND THEY DID)?

Lol, it would be a crime for me not to say Melinda Salisbury here because that is what I am MOST well known for, lets be real. I will forever shout about Mel’s books. Come at me.

5. BEST SERIES YOU STARTED IN 2019? BEST SEQUEL OF 2019? BEST SERIES ENDER OF 2019?

Best series I started? And Then I Turned Into A Mermaid – Laura Kirkpatrick
Best sequel? Patina – Jason Reynolds (I am ALL about this Run series, give me the new book INSTANTLY)
Best series ender? Maz Evans – Against All Gods (I am so so so deeply saddened this series is over)

6. FAVORITE NEW AUTHOR YOU DISCOVERED IN 2019?

I read quite a lot of books from new authors (either debuts or new to me) but I have to give this prize to Bethany Rutter. No Big Deal was a BIG DEAL to me this year and I just can’t wait to see what else she writes.

7. BEST BOOK FROM A GENRE YOU DON’T TYPICALLY READ/WAS OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE?

I find these questions really hard because I’m not a massively adventurous reader. I stick to what I know! Probably This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay though. That book needs to be read by every single person on this bloody planet because it is bloody brilliant.

8. MOST ACTION-PACKED/THRILLING/UNPUTDOWNABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR?

Now… action packed, thrilling and unputdownable are VERY DIFFERENT THINGS, but let me try and choose ONE book… Viper by Bex Hogan. That book definitely HAS A LOT going on. You should read it if you haven’t yet.

9. BOOK YOU READ IN 2019 THAT YOU WOULD BE MOST LIKELY TO RE-READ NEXT YEAR?

Now here we go again… everyone say it with me. I’m not much of a rereader. However I would be more than happy to reread a lot of the books I read in 2019. Mainly Song of Sorrow because I miss Luvian Fen so much.

10. FAVORITE COVER OF A BOOK YOU READ IN 2019?

It would be criminal for me to say that Circe isn’t my favourite cover of last year. That cover is DISGUSTINGLY beautiful (yes, I appreciate a shiny cover)

11. MOST MEMORABLE CHARACTER OF 2019?

Luvian bloody Fen. That fella HAS TAKEN OVER MY LIFE.

12. MOST BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN BOOK READ IN 2019?

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy. God guys. Just gosh.

13. MOST THOUGHT-PROVOKING/ LIFE-CHANGING BOOK OF 2019?

And The Stars Were Burning Brightly by Danielle Jawando. Excuse me. It’s not out til next year but you guys are IN FOR IT. This book is HEARTBREAKINGLY BEAUTIFUL.

14. BOOK YOU CAN’T BELIEVE YOU WAITED UNTIL 2019 TO FINALLY READ? 

I mean it only came out in 2019, but I read A Curse So Dark and Lonely A LONG TIME after everyone else did.

15. FAVORITE PASSAGE/QUOTE FROM A BOOK YOU READ IN 2019?

GOD KNOWS. Like genuinely. Although the ending of Song of Sorrow is just what I needed and didn’t know I wanted.

16. SHORTEST & LONGEST BOOK YOU READ IN 2019?

Shortest – Why You Should Read Children’s Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise by Katherine Rundell (80 pages)
Longest – The Toll by Neal Shusterman (640 pages)

17. BOOK THAT SHOCKED YOU THE MOST?

The Boy Who Steals Houses by C.G.Drews. I didn’t expect to fall in love with that book quite as much as I did.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (YOU WILL GO DOWN WITH THIS SHIP!)?

Sorrow and Luvian 4lyf. (Although, me and Luvian too) But I must also give a shout out to all of the ships I definitely shipped this year.

19. FAVORITE NON-ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP OF THE YEAR?

Emily and the relationship she has with her body in No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter. 

20. FAVORITE BOOK YOU READ IN 2019 FROM AN AUTHOR YOU’VE READ PREVIOUSLY?

LOTS OF THEM OK? I LOVE BOOKS.

21. BEST BOOK YOU READ IN 2019 THAT YOU READ BASED SOLELY ON A RECOMMENDATION FROM SOMEBODY ELSE/PEER PRESSURE/BOOKSTAGRAM, ETC.:

Circe by Madeleine Miller. Queen Mel kept recommending this, so obviously I read it.

22. NEWEST FICTIONAL CRUSH FROM A BOOK YOU READ IN 2019?

Malachi from With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo. He just seems like the sweetest sweetheart.

23. BEST 2019 DEBUT YOU READ?

A Pocketful of Stars by Aisha Bushby, The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D.Lapinski or No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter. I read LOADS of amazing debuts this year!

24. BEST WORLDBUILDING/MOST VIVID SETTING YOU READ THIS YEAR?

Now while I could of course recommend Queen Mel here (the queen of world building), I’d also like to give a shout out to Sophie Anderson for her gorgeous settings in The Girl Who Speaks Bear. 

25. BOOK THAT PUT A SMILE ON YOUR FACE/WAS THE MOST FUN TO READ?

Boot by Shane Hegarty.

26. BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY OR NEARLY CRY IN 2019?

LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL. See every book I read. Books that really broke my heart this year? Against all Gods, A Pocketful of Stars, They Both Die At The End, The Art of Being Normal, This Is Going To Hurt, And The Stars Were Burning Brightly.

27. HIDDEN GEM OF THE YEAR?

A Tale of Magic by Chris Colfer. I bought it on a whim because the kids at school love his other books and I just adored it.

28. BOOK THAT CRUSHED YOUR SOUL?

Lol, see my answers to Q26.

29. MOST UNIQUE BOOK YOU READ IN 2019?

High Rise Mystery by Sharna Jackson. The way it’s set out and written proper makes it stand out in my head!

30. BOOK THAT MADE YOU THE MOST MAD (DOESN’T NECESSARILY MEAN YOU DIDN’T LIKE IT)?

I Hold Your Heart by Karen Gregory. That book made me SO FUCKING cross. It’s well worth a read, but my god.

book-blogging

1. NEW FAVORITE BOOK BLOG/BOOKSTAGRAM/YOUTUBE CHANNEL YOU DISCOVERED IN 2019?

I don’t watch a lot of booktube to be honest, so I will tell everyone who is still reading to go and subscribe to my boy George Lester.

2. FAVORITE POST YOU WROTE IN 2019?

OH MY GOSH. I can not choose. I have quite a few!

3. FAVORITE BOOKISH RELATED PHOTO YOU TOOK IN 2019?

I don’t take great photos haha! So I’m not sure!

4. BEST BOOKISH EVENT THAT YOU PARTICIPATED IN (AUTHOR SIGNINGS, FESTIVALS, VIRTUAL EVENTS, ETC.)?

YALC is always a great highlight. I get to spend a few days with my favourite people in the world and books, what’s not to love? Mel Salisbury’s book launch was also bloody magnificent.

5. BEST MOMENT OF BOOKISH/BLOGGING LIFE IN 2018?

Chairing events with some of the authors I love and respect the most in the world is always an incredibly mind blowing thing to do!

6. MOST CHALLENGING THING ABOUT BLOGGING OR YOUR READING LIFE THIS YEAR?

Those times where my MH just doesn’t wanna play and therefore I don’t read/blog like I would love to be doing!

7. MOST POPULAR POST THIS YEAR ON YOUR BLOG (WHETHER IT BE BY COMMENTS OR VIEWS)?

Oooh. I’m not sure! Let me find out! THIS MAKES ME SO HAPPY. My most viewed post is my #SixforSunday prompts post! YAY for #SixforSunday!

8. POST YOU WISHED GOT A LITTLE MORE LOVE?

Meh. I’m indifferent to this question. I don’t write things for people to like? I write things  want to write!

9. BEST BOOKISH DISCOVERY (BOOK RELATED SITES, BOOK STORES, ETC.)?

*shrug* I don’t know my pals. I do not know.

10.  DID YOU COMPLETE ANY READING CHALLENGES OR GOALS THAT YOU HAD SET FOR YOURSELF AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS YEAR?

I always set myself a Goodreads target and of course I smashed it!

looking-ahead-books-2015

1. ONE BOOK YOU DIDN’T GET TO IN 2019 BUT WILL BE YOUR NUMBER 1 PRIORITY IN 2020?

Lol. So many. I’m not sorry either. I’ve still not read THUG. *shrug*

2. BOOK YOU ARE MOST ANTICIPATING FOR 2020 (NON-DEBUT)?

OH MY GOD. HOLD BACK THE TIDE. OMG. WHY IS IT NOT OUT YET?

3. 2020 DEBUT YOU ARE MOST ANTICIPATING?

Is it cheating to say the one I’m most anticipating is one I’ve already read? Cause I don’t care for your rules.

4. SERIES ENDING/A SEQUEL YOU ARE MOST ANTICIPATING IN 2020?

I NEED the rest of the Run series by Jason Reynolds like now. I love that series.

5. ONE THING YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH OR DO IN YOUR READING/BLOGGING LIFE IN 2020?

Just keep enjoying it. That’s all I ever want. As soon as I’m not enjoying it, that’s when I’ll stop blogging.

6. A 2020 RELEASE YOU’VE ALREADY READ & RECOMMEND TO EVERYONE (IF APPLICABLE):

MG – The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D.Lapinski. Friends. It is EXCELLENT. I can’t wait for the world to experience it!
YA – And The Stars Were Burning Brightly by Danielle Jawando. It BROKE MY SOUL. Please read it when it comes out because it is going to break yours too.

TA DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. You made it! Congratulations if you made it this far. Let me know in the comments if you made it this far and I might send you a little prize!

S x

Fabulous non-fiction

Recently, I’ve received a few brilliant non-fiction titles in the post and I thought I would share them with you! 

NFF

I am LOVING how gorgeous and well-thought out non fiction books are becoming. For so long they weren’t very appealing to look at, but with so many of the new titles out now, that is all changing! It’s certainly helping children to pick up more non-fiction books! 

Colossus – Colin Hynson

Have you ever wondered how the Golden Gate Bridge was built? Or how workers with basic tools created enormous monuments in ancient times? And how do you build a flying laboratory in space? This fascinating book reveals some of the greatest feats of engineering in history. From enormous bridges and tunnels that run for hundreds of miles, to towering skyscrapers and massive space stations, discover how some of Earth’s most colossal structures were made in beautifully illustrated detail. 

This book is BLOODY magnificent. It’s full of facts, gorgeous illustrations and it kept me entertained for a good while learning all about different feats of engineering around the world. Whether you’re a lover of engineering and construction or not, this is definitely one that you should get your hands on. It’s just brilliant! 

Earth Shattering Events – Robin Jacobs

We humans take our domination of the planet for granted, but sometimes nature reminds us that this is an illusion. Tectonics rip open the earth, vast waves sweep away coastal towns, magma spews from volcanoes and hurricanes lay waste to entire countries. This book explores nature at its most destructive. Clear, coherent explanations break down the science behind phenomena including hurricanes, tornadoes, avalanches, earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes, alongside fascinating facts about the biggest and the worst. 

This book would be PERFECT for any kind of natural disasters topic in Upper Key Stage 2. It’s SUCH  spot on book. The explanations are scientific enough to educate, but clear enough to not baffle kids. I loved looking through all of the different pages. This might be one of my favourite books I’ve received lately because I learned SO MUCH. This is perfect for a geographer in your life! It’s not only informative but it is BRILLIANTLY illustrated by Sophie Williams: the illustrations add so much to it! Just spot on!

Gut Garden – Katie Brosnan

A visual exploration of the universe that exists within our own bodies. Within our bodies hides an entire world of organisms called microbes. They boost our immune systems, digest our food, regulate our metabolism and even impact on our mental health. This book follows the digestive process from the moment the food enters our mouths to the moment waste leaves our bodies. Along the way we learn about this fascinating scientific frontier and gain an insight into the vastecosystem that exists inside us.

This is another example of a book which is PERFECT for Upper Key Stage 2. This book is JAM-PACKED full of information for children to take in, talk about and thenprobe further. I love the way this book is presented and the information is in small chunks, which is easy to digest (ha). It’s so wonderful to read something which has been so well thought out and flows so well. Kids are going to love this because it covers things that we don’t talk about so much – it’s a bit gross, but fascinating! 

Unseen Worlds – Helene Rajcak and Damien Laverdunt

Discover a hidden universe of microscopic monsters right before your eyes. Travel to locations both familiar and strange as you search for the smallest creatures on Planet Earth. You’ll never see the world the same way again! Unfold each page to reveal stunningly detailed illustrations bursting with jelly-like amoebae, predatory centipedes, ravenous mosquitoes, and more mites than you could imagine. From the murky ocean depths to your kitchen cupboard, and even inside your nose, you’ll travel to locations both familiar and strange as you search for the smallest creatures on Planet Earth.

With fold out pages and a wonderful range of facts to learn, this book is one that I personally learned a lot from. I’m not a big fan of creepy crawlies and the likes, but this can’t hurt me so I am ALL about it! It’s wonderful that you get to explore places you never get to through a book, and in this you get to see microscopic things that your eyes never could and learn about them! What can I say? I’m a big fan of learning and books like this fascinate me because this is something someone knows a lot about! 

A massive thank you to the publicists from What on Earth Books, Templar Books and Cicada Books for these incredible additions to our non-fiction collection!

S x