BLOG TOUR: Fig Swims the World

Good morning! 

This morning I come to you with an absolute corker of a blog post from the wonderful Lou Abercrombie – author of the brilliant new book, Fig Swims the World.

When I received this book, I was totally over the moon. I’m a MASSIVE fan of swimming (It’s in fact one of the things that I’m going to try and get back into once we’re allowed to be back in the world with other human beings because it’s so good for me, both physically and mentally!) and I was over the moon when the publishers asked if I wanted to host a stop on the blog tour. So here, on publication day, I have the absolute joy of hosting a piece all about Lou’s list of open water swimming! 

Lou’s List of Swims

I’ve been swimming all my life, but my obsession with open water started in 2013. If there’s a lake, quarry or sea, I’ll swim in it!  Here’s a few of my most memorable:

  1. An iconic British swim – 2km around of Burgh Island

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Off the coast of South Devon, Burgh Island is a private island with an Art Deco hotel where Agatha Christie wrote two of her novels.  It was my first proper open water swim and while it was a straightforward router, getting used to the tide and the waves and the saltwater was hard.  This was my inspiration for Fig’s first swim – Dinosaur Island.

  1. An iconic canal swim – 2km round the Christiansborg in Copenhagen

This swim provided the inspiration for Fig’s 17th swim – the Mermaid Canal and I remember thinking about it as I was swimming. I have the best memories from completing this one, as I had my family cheering me along.  The elation and pride on their faces when I got out the water was wonderful.

  1. The Marathon swim – Dart 10K

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This is the hardest swim I’ve ever done.  Training 3-4 times a week, building up to 8km, was tough and took a lot of time, energy and willpower, not to mention how hungry it made me! It’s also my saddest swim, as I had no one there for me when I got out.  The emotion of completing something that I had worked so hard to do hit me and I ended up bursting into tears in front of a complete stranger!

  1. The Popular swim – 6.5km around Brownsea Island

This swim is so popular you have to set your alarm at 7a.m to register and even then, you might not get a place.  After several years of trying, I finally got to do it in 2019.  The day was gorgeous, with perfect weather conditions.  Unfortunately, I let myself get psyched out by all the amazing swimmers who stormed past me. Then my goggles leaked the whole way round and I got a terrible rash burn from my thermal top and wetsuit.  All of which spoilt my enjoyment of what could have been a beautiful swim.

  1. The cold swim – 7km down the River Wye

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The Wild Wye was an amazing swim.  From getting in the river and being pulled along by the current, to seeing other swimmers laughing, chatting and generally enjoying the opportunity to swim in such lovely surroundings. Unfortunately, I got too cold and started to panic. Even asked the SARA volunteers who were standing along the course whether I had blue lips.  I was freezing and by the time I got to the finish line, a rope leading up a muddy bank, I could barely walk and ended up letting out a crazy tribal roar as the emotion of getting there hit me.  I ended up in the First Aid tent wrapped in a silver foil blanket.   However, this time I had friends looking out for me.  It’s amazing what a difference that made…

  1. The World’s Oldest Swim – 4.5km Hellespont & Dardanelles

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This is what got me into open water swimming, because I liked the idea of saying that I’d swum between Europe and Asia, across one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes! The enormity of the challenge hit me when we took a ferry along the route and I realised how difficult it was going to be, given the currents and choppiness not to mention the idea of literally being stranded between two continents!

This was the inspiration for Fig’s final swim – the Cross Continental.

I of course have a list of swims I’d like to do one day, most of which were also the inspiration for Fig’s swims.  They include:

  • St Michael’s Mount
  • Swim the Arctic Circle
  • Oman Fjords
  • The Hurly Burly
  • Gozo to Malta sunrise swim

What an incredible story to read! As a massive fan of swimming myself, I’d love to take on an outdoor swim one day… I just don’t think I’m brave enough right now! Maybe one day… this has certainly inspired me to start thinking about it though! 

Massive massive thank you to Lou for writing this fascinating piece and to the publishers for asking me to be on the blog tour! Fig Swims the World is out TODAY! You can buy it online – be awesome, go buy it and support an indie bookshop!

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“Fig Fitzsherbert is good at a lot of things: making lists, playing the piano, advanced mathematics. But it’s never quite enough for her high-flying mother, who every New Year’s Day sets Fig an impossible resolution. So one year, Fig decides to set her own challenge instead: she’s going to swim her way round the world. There’s just one tiny problem … Fig can’t swim. Taking it one length at a time, Fig embarks on the adventure of a lifetime. But with her mother closing in, will she be able to keep her head above water and complete her challenge?”

Fig Swims the World by Lou Abercrombie, out TODAY from Stripes Publishing. 

S x

BOOKBLOG: Ben Miller

HAPPIEST OF RELEASE DAYS TO BEN MILLER! 

Following the success of his festive debut, The Night I Met Father Christmas, Ben Miller’s second book for children is a cautionary tale about black holes, time travel and broccoli.

‘Stories are often about a good person who does a Bad Thing, and this is no exception…’

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“Harrison tries his best to be good. He doesn’t steal, he always shares with his sister and he never cheats at board games, but Harrison also has a BIG flaw. He can’t control his temper! So when he’s given a black hole instead of a balloon at a party, Harrison jumps at the chance to get rid of everything that makes him cross. But when it’s not just things he hates that are disappearing into the black hole but things he loves, too, Harrison starts to realise that sometimes you should be careful what you wish for…”

As part of the release day celebrations, I was lucky enough to be asked by the brilliant publishers to host some content to help celebrate! 

Below you will find a sketch by the amazing illustrator Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini. The illustration is titled ‘Black Hole’ and I just think it’s brilliant. As someone who isn’t artistic, I am always in awe and wonder at illustrators doing their thing! I love getting behind the scenes of things like this, so to see it in its original form and then what it looked like as a finished product makes me so happy! It’s like a sneak peek into an illustrator’s sketch book! 

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Go follow Daniela on twitter @DJTerrazzini or on Instagram @danielajterrazzini.

I can’t wait to get this book. I really enjoyed Ben’s first book, so I have high hopes for this one! Out TODAY! Go treat yourself! Massive thank you to the publishers for inviting me to host these incredible images! 

S x 

March in books

Hello my lovely friends!

How are you all holding up? How is the world treating you? I hope you are looking after yourself and staying inside! I’ll be honest, it’s driving me a little bit mad, but we must do what we must do to keep ourselves and others safe.

Here we are. March is over. April is upon us. I’m here to share the books I read in March!

In March, I managed to read 13 books. 

I read 8 of them since the lockdown started. I was a little bit poorly, so I haven’t been able to go into work yet.

Do you wanna see what I read!?

Let’s start with YA

March YA 2020 

All of these were sent from the publishers and let me tell you, they’re all bloody brilliant! I’ve written a review of Last Lesson already, with the reviews for the others coming in the next few weeks! Would recommend them all for very different reasons. There’s something for everyone!

Looking for something to make you laugh? Check out Pretty Funny.
Looking for a spooky, creepy read? Good Girls Die First is for you.
Wanna be shocked and enthralled? Get yourself Last Lesson.
Need a bit of dystopian escape from this world? Dive into The Good Hawk.

What about MG?

March MG 2020

Again, I was sent some of these from publishers and I purchased a few too! I loved pretty much all of these. There’s something for all kinds of readers in this pile. I’ve reviewed Evie in the Jungle and The Ghost Garden so far, with reviews coming for the rest of them in the coming weeks.

Love a bit of history? Check out Ghost Garden, The Vanishing Trick or The House of Hidden Wonders!
Are you on the hunt for a good mystery? You need to get Anisha, Accidental Detective or Mic Drop!
Do you love books about animals? Consider buying Evie in the Jungle or Pests!
Looking for a super satisfying quick read? You can’t go wrong with Isadora Moon or Willow Wildthing!

BOOKISH TARGETS

This year, I set my target 52 as usual. I’m aiming for 52 kids books alongside that. So yes, I realise I am almost there already, but I want to get to 52 kids books again! Will I change my Goodreads target? It’s SO SO unlikely.

GOODREADS: 48/52
52 KIDS BOOKS: 30/52

And that’s my March reading rounded up! Massive thank you to the publishers who send me proof copies of books: you guys know I love you a lot!

Did you have a productive March reading?
Are you reading more or less now that we’re inside a lot more?

What’s on your April TBR?

Speak to me! I’d love to know what you loved reading last month!

Stay safe, S x

BOOK BLOG: Abi Elphinstone

Jungledrop: exciting, filled with heart and adventure!

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“Eleven-year-old twins, Fox and Fibber, have been rivals for as long as they can remember. Only one of them will inherit the family fortune and so a race is afoot to save the dwindling Petty-Squabble empire and win the love of their parents. But when the twins are whisked off to Jungledrop, a magical Unmapped Kingdom in charge of conjuring our world’s weather, things get wildly out of hand. An evil harpy called Morg is on the loose. And if she finds the long-lost Forever Fern before the twins, both Jungledrop and our world will crumble. Suddenly, Fox and Fibber find themselves on an incredible adventure in a glow-in-the-dark rainforest full of golden panthers, gobblequick trees and enchanted temples. But, with the fate of two worlds in their hands, will the twins be able to work together for once to defeat Morg and her dark magic?”

Jungledrop is the second book (technically third) in Abi Elphinstone’s incredible Unmapped Chronicles series (Rumblestar being the other novel length one and Everdark being the other one – a World Book Day book!). This series gives me SO MUCH JOY. 

When the amazing humans at Simon and Schuster emailed me asking if I wanted a proof copy, I couldn’t refuse. I am a massive massive fan of Abi’s writing. She writes such incredible stories which are always adventure filled and magnificence that I needed to get my hands on it (plus, my Year 6’s would have lynched me if I had turned it down… they are also massive fans!) 

eq0otw6waaeqkceJust look at this proof man… HOW SHINY AND GORGEOUS. 

Jungledrop tells the tale of the two obnoxious and rude twins (Fox and Fibber) who have an awful lot to learn about themselves and about the world. They’re not the kindest or friendliest protagonists to start with and when they begin their quest to save their world and the Unmapped Kingdoms, you find that in fact, they’re going to have to grow and change to get through it. They have to learn to be kind, to show humility and be brave. They are of course on the quest to save the world from Morg (cruel, mean Morg, who is set on taking over the Unmapped Kingdom with her dark heart). 

This book is a total adventure with an awful lot of heart. Abi Elphinstone writes new worlds and new characters with such brilliance that is hard not to fall in love with the stories straight away. It’s rich in language, setting, characters and messages. 

One of the things that always stands out to me about Abi Elphinstone books is the messages that are delivered through brilliant storytelling. This one delivers a gorgeous message about the importance of being kind and being brave. Bravery comes in all forms in this book. It comes from small acts of kindness and massive acts of a heroic nature. The twins learn a lot about how unkind they can be and how kindness can actually help them to learn about themselves and each other. 

This book is so jam packed with wonderful characters. New and old.

The twins are not very likeable at first: they’re mean, selfish, obnoxious and just plain spiteful. They’re very self-obsessed. They’re not very compassionate. They’re not kind to each other. But when they realise they need each other and they need to be vulnerable and trust other people, they really start to change. They’re devious and conniving at times. You definitely warm up to them in the end though. 

Of course, mean, power-hungry Morg is back and she’s up to her old funny business again. Trying to destroy the world of Jungledrop. Trying to capture the people. Trying to grow stronger after the happenings of Rumblestar. As much as she terrifies me, it was great to be back with her. She’s one of those deliciously evil characters (a bit like Maleficent).

In the lands of Jungledrop, the twins meet a wonderful array of characters. When they end up in their adventure, they are accompanied by Heckle the parrot. He’s very aptly named and he definitely kept the laughs coming. He sticks around despite all rebuffs from the twins (Fox in particular is mean). In these magical lands, the twins come across many other magical animals who lend a hand, even though the twins try and avoid this happening (they’ve been brought up to be hardy and get on themselves!).

There’s another familiar face that appears in this book that made my heart so happy. I loved seeing them again. I’m glad they reappeared. 

My Goodreads review:

Blooming magnificent. A book, like all of Abi’s others, filled with adventure and heart. You can’t read one of her books and not be swept away with the lives of her characters, the depth and richness of her worlds and the brilliance of her baddies. I loved the twins and the journey they go on: kindness really is the bravest thing in the world. As much as Morg terrifies me, it was great to be back with her dastardly ways. And Heckle is a brilliant character (with a perfect name!) bloody bravo Abi Elphinstone!! 

And that’s it! If you like the sound of this, why don’t you consider preordering it?

Amazon Preorder Link

Waterstones Preorder Link

Hive Preorder Link

A massive thank you to the gorgeous Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy of Jungledrop – it’s in the possession of one of my Year 6s as we speak! They’re planning to send it around each other! Speak to you all soon! 

S x 

The Spring Book Tag

Hello!

It is ThursTAG again. Phew. How is everyone keeping on? What have you been up to this week? Staying safe I hope! Today I am here to bring you the Spring Book Tag since it is technically now Spring! (And don’t I know it? My hayfever is KICKING MY ASS!)

Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!

1. What’s on your Spring TBR list?

I mean, what isn’t on my TBR? Literally everything haha! My “school closure but not really closure” TBR is up to my hip. Whether I’ll get through them all, or whether I’ll be distracted by other things will be interesting haha. Saying that, some recent additions to my TBR are:

2. If someone asked you for a spring release recommendation, what would it be?

Last Lesson by James Goodhand is INCREDIBLE. It’s the story of a young boy who plans to bomb his school on the last day of Year 11. I read it in the space of a few hours and I just adored it. It’s tough and gritty, but man, it’s so good. (It’s out at the beginning of April I believe!)

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3. Which two books coming out before summer are you eagerly awaiting?

I have already read both Destination Anywhere by Sara Barnard and Jungledrop by Abi Elphinstone, but I can’t wait for other people to read them and be so happy and love them as much as I did! Seriously, when they come out, you need to get your hands on them!

4. Which character would make a great Easter bunny?

Hahaha, what a random question! Erm… someone who’s giving and happy about it? Maybe like Miss Honey? She’s really generous. Or Coach from the Run series by Jason Reynolds. He’d make you work for your egg, but then you know you’d deserve it! Ha!

5. What book makes you think of spring?

Literally anything with flowers on the cover. I know I’ve already mentioned her, but Sara Barnard books make me think of spring. They’re so pretty and shiny.

6. Name a cover with flowers on it.

(Haha, my answer to that previous question was NOT planned at all!)

A book with flowers on the cover? EASY:

7. Which two characters would you go on an Easter egg hunt with?

OOOOH. I do not know! Someone to keep me entertained on the hunt and then someone who was good at finding things? 

8. What is your favorite spring bookish activity?

Now I love a good wander along the seaside and then sitting reading on the beach, but as that won’t be happening for some time, I’m going to say, just sitting with a cup of tea, on the back doorstep and reading. I love a good sit outdoor.

9. Which book did you enjoy that has a spring-like cover?

A book I’ve enjoyed this year that has quite a spring-y cover… oooh a good question! I love the Hotel Flamingo books and this one screams spring to me: bright, colourful and sparking joy!

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10. Who is your favorite contemporary author?

Oh friends. Why do you do this to me? SO SO MANY. I love me some Juno Dawson (for bloody brilliant storytelling), Sara Barnard (for incredible characters and they will always make you cry!), Non Pratt (for sheer brilliance), Simon James Green (for funnies) and so many more. That’s just impolite to ask me to be honest.

My Nominees for the Spring Book Tag

Literally anyone who wants to take part… I am guessing my friend Charlotte will engage in this tag. I would be offended if she didn’t let’s be fair.

And that’s it! The spring book tag has sprung! If you fancy giving this a go, please do!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Sara Barnard

Destination Anywhere: what do you do when you’re so lost you don’t even know where to find yourself?

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“Sometimes you have to leave your life behind to find your place in the world…
After five years at secondary school spent bullied and alone, Peyton King starts sixth form college determined that things will be different. Whatever happens, she will make friends at any cost. When she finds the friends she’s always dreamed of, including an actual boyfriend, she’s happier than she’s ever been. But when they let her down in the worst way, Peyton is left no better off than when she started. Now Peyton knows the only chance she has of finding happiness is to look for it somewhere else. With nothing but her sketchpad and a backpack, she buys a one-way ticket and gets on a plane…”

I’m not here today to share a full review… that’s to come once I can form sentences about how much I loved this book.

I’m here today to share one of my moodboards (because being creative in these times is keeping me sane and it helps me a lot) and some preorder links. I think it’s SO important that we support authors and preorders are one of those incredibly easy ways that we can support them! 

Sara mood board

Sara Barnard keeps writing story after story that are just kick you in face good. I adored Peyton’s story and her adventure. We’ve all been there: lost and looking for ourselves. People are going to get a lot from this and it’s a gorgeous story. I loved that this book was a celebration of friendships without hiding away from the fact that friendships aren’t always great and that some of them totally suck. Now who do I speak to about my Canadian road trip?

If my moodboard and my short Goodreads review has inspired you to get this book (cause you probably should my friends, it is incredible), then why not consider preordering it from your favourite indie (can I recommend @biggreenbooks if you don’t know an indie?) or clicking one of the links below (this is not a sponsored post or anything, I just wanna get behind this book a lot and we all know I am a massive fan of Sara):

Amazon Preorder Link

Waterstones Preorder Link

Hive Preorder Link

Destination Anywhere isn’t out until June, but if you can preorder, please consider it! 

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my post! There will be a full review coming, I promise… just bear with me! 

What did you think of my moodboard?
Are you a preorder-er?
Have you read any of Sara’s other books? 

Speak to you all soon! Stay safe! 

S x

BOOK BLOG: James Goodhand

Last Lesson: Tense, gripping and thrilling

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“Last year, Ollie Morcombe was a star pupil, popular and a gifted musician. Then, after the accident, everything changed. Now he’s an outcast, a prime target of the school bullies who have made his life a living hell. Today – the last day of the school year – he’s brought those bullies a gift. A homemade pipe bomb. What has driven a model student to plan an unspeakable revenge? And with the clock ticking down to home time, what can anybody do to stop him?”

The amazing humans over at Penguin books sent me a proof copy of this book (see below proof cover) and as soon as I read the blurb, I knew I needed to pick it up. I read it on my train journey down to London (when we were still allowed to be around other people) and I THOROUGHLY enjoyed it! 

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Last Lesson is the brilliant story of young Ollie, who plans to plant a bomb in his school on the last day of the year. It follows his story from being a popular member of his school community to being the boy who wants to bomb his school. You get the chance to sneak into the world of being a teenager in his school, the things he goes through and his pretty tricky life. He has a lot to deal with. This book is told in flashbacks and a run down of the last day of school and it’s so brilliantly done. 

We all know I love a good character I can get behind.

I was initially VERY anti-Ollie (I mean who wouldn’t be? He’s bombing his school), but as you go through the story and you see what is going on in his life (an awful awful lot), you begin to question his motives and his reasons for it and maybe see a bit of humanity in him. As a teacher, it was really hard to read what Ollie was going through at school because there were just so many red flag from the actions of the teachers (one teacher in particular I wanted to murder because he was SO neglectful).

There is one teacher who is an absolute ray of light in Ollie’s life and I am so here for her – yes to positive representations of teachers in YA… we need more of these! 

I had very conflicted emotions about his grandad too. He lives with his granded and while his grandad is super supportive and doing a super good job of raising Ollie, he’s got this very “men should be men and not cry” kind of toxic masculinity vibe going on about him. This doesn’t mean I didn’t think he was a good character. For this book and for the story, grandad was a brilliant character. He was part of the problem, but he also ends up being a bit of a ray of hope in all of it. 

This book is a total emotional rollercoaster. I can’t lie and say I wasn’t gripped straight away. The premise alone was one that I needed to be part of. From the get go, you are in on the action. There’s a real sense of urgency about this story. You need to go through it greedily. You need to know what is going to happen. There’s so much you need to know the answer to. You go through this story thinking one thing, then another, then back to your first thought. You really go through it all with Ollie. Poor, poor Ollie.

There’s anger, disbelief, horror, love, hope and sadness all thrown into this book. I finished it feeling a bit of a shell of myself! 

There’s some pretty tough themes in this book. It deals with toxic masculinity, rape, bullying and mental health issues. They’re all dealt with so brilliantly without shying away from some pretty harrowing scenes and the reality of some of these situations from a teenager’s point of view. I think this book will make people ask questions and I hope it will start conversations, which start conversations. 

My Goodreads review:

My gosh, what a ride. This is gripping, harrowing and a total rollercoaster. Following the story of young Ollie, who plans to plant a bomb in his school on the last day of the year. This hooked me from the get go and I needed to know the ending. Proper brilliant.

A massive massive thank you to Penguin for sending me a copy of Last Lesson. I hope you all go out and buy this book because it’s BLOODY BRILLIANT. 

Have you read Last Lesson?
Can you share some more positive representations of teachers in YA?
What are your thoughts on this book?

Talk to me! I’d love to know what you think!

S x 

ThursTAG: Amazon’s 100 Books To Read In a Lifetime

Hello friends!!!

I came across the Amazon’s 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime” Tag a while ago and stored it in my tag vault… now I figured was as good a time as any to get it out of storage and share with you what I’ve read!

“recommend reads” lists always fascinate me. I don’t think I’m necessarily the target audience for them… but I figured I’d see how many I had read… and you can all shout at me for ones I’ve not read haha!

Rules:

  1. Include the link to Amazon’s List
  2. Tag the creator of the meme (Perfectly Tolerable)
  3. Tag and thank the Person that tagged you
  4. Copy the list below and indicate which ones you have read
  5. Tally up your total
  6. Tag 5 new people!

All right, now let’s take a look;

100 Books To Read In a Lifetime List

Title Author Read?
1984 George Orwell  Yes
A Brief History of Time Stephen Hawking
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius Dave Eggers
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier Ishmael Beah
The Bad Beginning Lemony Snicket
A Wrinkle in Time Madeleine L’Engle
Selected Stories, 1968-1994 Alice Munro
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Lewis Carroll  Yes
All the President’s Men Bob Woodward
Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir Frank McCourt
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Judy Blume
Bel Canto Ann Patchett
Beloved Toni Morrison
Born to Run Christopher McDougall
Breath, Eyes, Memory Edwidge Danticat
Catch-22 Joseph Heller
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl  Yes
Charlotte’s Web E. B White Yes
Cutting for Stone Abraham Verghese
Daring Greatly Brené Brown
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Jeff Kinney  Yes
Dune Frank Herbert
Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Hunter S. Thompson
Gone Girl Gillian Flynn Yes
Goodnight Moon Margaret Wise Brow
Great Expectations Charles Dickens
Guns, Germs, and Steel Jared Diamond Ph.D.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone J.K. Rowling  Yes
In Cold Blood Truman Capote
Interpreter of Maladies Jhumpa Lahiri
Invisible Man Ralph Ellison
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth Chris Ware
Kitchen Confidential Anthony Bourdain
Life After Life Kate Atkinson
Little House on the Prairie Laura Ingalls Wilder Yes
Lolita Vladimir Nabokov
Love in the Time of Cholera Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Love Medicine Louise Erdrich
Man’s Search for Meaning Viktor E. Frankl
Me Talk Pretty One Day David Sedaris
Middlesex Jeffrey Eugenides
Midnight’s Children Salman Rushdie
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game Michael Lewis
Of Human Bondage W. Somerset Maugham
On the Road Jack Kerouac
Out of Africa Isak Dinesen
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood Marjane Satrapi
Portnoy’s Complaint Philip Roth
Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
Silent Spring Rachel Carson
Slaughterhouse-Five Kurt Vonnegut
Team of Rivals Doris Kearns Goodwin
The Age of Innocence Edith Wharton
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay Michael Chabon
The Autobiography of Malcolm X Malcolm X
The Book Thief Markus Zusak  Yes
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Junot Díaz
The Catcher in the Rye J. D. Salinger
The Color of Water James McBride
The Corrections Jonathan Franzen
The Devil in the White City Erik Larson
The Diary of a Young Girl Anne Frank
The Fault in Our Stars John Green  Yes
The Giver Lois Lowry
The Golden Compass Philip Pullman Yes
The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald  Yes
The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood
The House at Pooh Corner A. Milne Yes
The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins Yes
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Rebecca Skloot
The Liars’ Club Mary Karr
The Lightning Thief Rick Riordan
The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The Long Goodbye Raymond Chandler
The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 Lawrence Wright
The Lord of the Rings J.R.R. Tolkien
The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat Oliver Sacks
The Omnivore’s Dilemma Michael Pollan
The Phantom Tollbooth Norton Juster
The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingsolver
The Power Broker Robert A. Caro
The Right Stuff Tom Wolfe
The Road Cormac McCarthy
The Secret History Donna Tartt
The Shining Stephen King
The Stranger Albert Camus
The Sun Also Rises Ernest Hemingway
The Things They Carried Tim O’Brien
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eric Carle Yes
The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame Yes
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle Haruki Murakami
The World According to Garp John Irving
The Year of Magical Thinking Joan Didion
Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe
To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee
Unbroken Laura Hillenbrand
Valley of the Dolls Jacqueline Susann
Where the Sidewalk Ends Shel Silverstein
Where the Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak Yes

Hahahaha… this list was NOT designed for me… my total comes to

17 books

I don’t think the ones I’ve chosen will surprise many people… but I think some people will be shocked by some of the ones I’ve not read. (What can I say? I’m not a big classics fan!) I’ve just spotted that there’s a list of children’s books on there too… so I may total them up next week – I bet that number is higher! 

I’d like to add that I recently bought To Kill A Mockingbird and Catch 22… so maybe I can tick them off by the end of the year!

Are you shocked by my total?
Can you recommend me any from that list?
Would you like to have a go at this tag?

I’m not going to tag anyone because if you wanna have a go, just do it!

S x

 

BOOK BLOG: Matt Haig

Hello!

Now… for those of you who are new around here, there is an important message I need you to take from today:

I am a MASSIVE Matt Haig fan.

I think he writes BRILLIANTLY. He’s one of the few authors who I read ANYTHING they release (non fiction, adult, MG). In fact, I’d go so far as to say I’ve read ALL of his books… I may even OWN them all (if not all of them, MOST of them!) I’ve reviewed quite a few of his books on here, but I recently read Evie in the Jungle (the Worls Book Day 2020 book by him) and thought this was the opportune moment to FINALLY review Evie and the Animals and Evie and the Jungle!

Evie and the Animals: a great story about the importance of kindness

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“Ten-year-old Evie has a talent. A SUPERTALENT. Evie can TALK to animals and HEAR their thoughts. Pretty amazing, isn’t it? One day at school, Evie sets Kahlo the rabbit free from her too-small cage. Evie knows she’s done A Good Thing . . . but it lands her in BIG trouble. Evie’s dad and Granny Flora say her talent is a curse; she must never use it again. Until a year later pets on her street – including Lady Gaga the cat and a hamster named Cheryl – start disappearing. Evie is determined to find them. But it’s dangerous for her to help. Because the villain has a talent of their own, and only wants to use it for evil… Can Evie save the pets before it’s too late, even if it means DARING TO BE HERSELF?”

Evie and the Animals is a gorgeous story where Dr. Dolittle meets modern day issues to do with conservationism and activism! 

Evie has a special talent: she can understand other species. She can talk to them and she can hear what they are saying. Whether it’s the dogs of the neighbourhood, the school rabbit who wants to be set free or even scarier animals, Evie can hear them and talk to them. For so long she’s been ignoring them because she doesn’t want to be different (don’t we all worry about this!?), but when they start to go missing, Evie knows she needs to do about something about it. She knows she needs to use her power to try and help. 

This book has one of those brilliant things that kids are instantly hooked into. It’s exciting and enticing – who wouldn’t like to talk to animals?! We’ve had loads of chats about what animals the children would talk to if they had Evie’s powers (with answers ranging from tigers, to worms and pets, it’s been a topic of hot debate in the classroom!)

This book is full of elements that kept me wanting to read. There’s mystery, talking animals, scary moments (scary big cats at the zoo), bad guys and powers.

Evie is a brilliant main character. She’s full of heart and gusto. She’s got a brilliant message to deliver to children about being kind and the power behind those acts of kindness. She’s caring and gentle to both the people around her and the animals she encounters. Plus, she’s on her way to solving a mystery! 

My Goodreads review of Evie and the Animals:

A lovely story about the importance of being kind (to humans AND animals), being yourself (even when everyone tells you not to be) and looking after the world. I bloody love Matt Haig SO much.

Evie and the Jungle: a new adventure into the Amazon!

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“Twelve-year-old Evie has a talent. She can HEAR what animals are thinking and she can TALK to them with her mind. When Evie goes on a trip to the Amazon rainforest, her powers are put to the test. She makes friends with pink river dolphins, must save an injured sloth, and discovers the secret life of a jaguar. Soon she sees that the jungle is in serious and deadly danger, and comes up with a rather risky plan to help save it…”

Evie in the Jungle is a wonderful addition to the Evie family of books. She’s a brilliant protagonist that children might know from the first book, but I don’t think you NEED to know her as this book stands by itself if necessary.

This second adventure takes us on a fascinating (and sometimes a little bit scary!) trip all the way to the Amazon Rainforest, where we hear about Evie’s adventures in Peru with her dad. Evie and her dad have the chance to meet all kinds of incredibly exotic animals, including an adorable sloth, some very rude monkeys and a downright rude Scarlet Macaw. They go to help save so many of these animals who are affected by the destruction of the rainforest. 

One of the things I loved about this book is that there are so many facts jam packed into it that it appeals to my wonderfully science loving class! I learned that pink dolphins exist (no, I didn’t know that!) There’s some pretty shocking facts to be learned in this book too: humans are destroying enough rainforest to fill 30 football pitches every minute; 35 species of the Amazon Rainforest become extinct every day.

This book is an exciting and fun story, with lots of very important messages about looking after our planet, being kind to each other and the importance of doing good things. It’s got wonderful messages about compassion and honesty too. It’s a perfect length for new readers without being intimidating! 

My Goodreads review:

I really enjoyed this short story about Evie, the girl who can talk to animals. It’s got important messages about saving the rainforests, the importance of nature and kindness. 

And that’s it! Completely and utterly recommend these books (and the rest of Matt Haig’s catalogue of books too, if you’re after some recommendations!)

Have you read any of Matt Haig’s books?
Can you recommend me any more books with similar messages?

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Emma Carroll

The Ghost Garden: Historical fiction done splendidly

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“SUMMER 1914. When Fran unearths a bone in the garden of Longbarrow House on the same afternoon that Leo breaks his leg, it must surely be just a coincidence. But Fran can’t shake the uneasy feeling that the events are somehow connected, and there is a shift in the atmosphere that leaves her troubled and anxious. Roped into keeping wheelchair-bound Leo company, Fran is forced to listen to his foolish theories about the looming threat of war in Europe. But as the pair start to uncover more secrets buried beneath the garden, they dredge up threatening shadows of the future, and Fran begins to fear that Leo’s dire predictions might be coming true…”

The brilliant squirrels over at Barrington Stoke sent me one of their brand new titles and I couldn’t have been more over-joyed to receive it. They have collaborated with Emma Caroll (Queen of all things historical fiction) and created an absolute winner!

Set at the start of World War 1, The Ghost Garden tells the story of Fran: a young girl whose family works at Longbarrow House. She ends up digging up a bone in the garden of the house and then something happens to one of the grand-children of the rich family. She worries that these things are connected (she’s not the biggest fan of Leo and his siblings) and is concerned that there is more to it than just coincidence. She ends up being roped into looking after Leo as he is wheelchair bound and his siblings don’t look after him well. As they spend more time together and go deeper into some well-kept secrets, they discover there’s more to Longbarrow House than they first knew!

I absolutely adored this story. It was one that I picked up and then gobbled up in a very short space of time! Something that I love about Barrington Stoke books is just that: they’re readable and brilliant. Their books are perfect for reluctant readers… and this is one that I would recommend whole heartedly!

Throughout the story, there’s an over riding sense of bad omens and a lot of tension is built up in very subtle but effective ways. I can see a lot of children loving this book for that sense of fear and tension.

I also thought the characters were brilliant too. Fran is a great main character and I think a lot of children will like her! She’s definitely pretty brave – I don’t think you’d find me going on adventures through the gardens of Longbarrow House in search of secrets and history! 

My Goodreads review

This is great! Properly classic Emma Carroll: historical fiction done well. I loved the apparent bad omens and tension throughout. Fran is a great main character. I’d love to visit Longbarrow House. Although I definitely would be as brave as Fran was!

Another massive thank you to Barrington Stoke for sending me a copy of this fantastic read! It’s out in July! You’re all in for a treat!

S x