BLOG TOUR: The Ghouls of Howlfair

Hello hello hello friends!

How are you all? I know, I know I’ve already posted today… but today is one of those special days here at A Little But A Lot: a TWO POST DAY! 

I was invited to be part of the blog tour for The Ghouls of Howlfair by Nick Tomlinson and I absolutely jumped at the chance! This book is absolutely perfect for our upcoming SPOOKY time of year… and I tell you now, my kids are ABSOLUTELY devouring it! We can’t get enough of it – so much so there’s a waiting list for the book!

image001

Nick has been lovely enough to provide some content all about . I’m a massive fan of hearing about the inspiration behind stories, so this piece was SPOT ON for me! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! 

The Story Behind Howlfair

To me, Howlfair isn’t so much a place as a kind of mental scrapbook where I’ve put every silly ghost story I’ve made up since I was four.  In The Ghouls of Howlfair, it’s a very quaint, eerie tourist town nestling in the spooky Ethelhael Valley, cut off from the rest of England.  It has sinister trees and plants you won’t find anywhere else – darksbane, tangle-trees, Judas Root – and it also has more scary legends that anywhere in the world.  Every street and building, it seems, commemorates some ghastly folk tale about the Dark Days of Howlfair’s history, back when monsters (supposedly) terrorised the town.

My main character – stubborn, serious historian Molly Thompson – has lived here all her life, and she’s obsessed with finding out the truth behind the legends.  Unlike almost everyone else in town, Molly thinks that the legends might be true.  As she discovers, they’re not only true, but they’re starting to come true once more!

According to Howlfair folklore, some greedy miners came to the valley centuries ago in search of precious jewels.  They dug too deep, and supposedly exposed a secret gateway to hell.  A mysterious mist seeped from the mine and transformed locals into vampires and werewolves and zombies.  In the Dark Days that followed, the people of Howlfair formed monster-fighting Orders and Guilds to drive back waves of supernatural attacks, giving rise to vast numbers of scary camp-fire tales.

Nowadays, though, the people of Howlfair think that there must be a sensible explanation for the old stories.  The mysterious mist, they claim, was probably just a noxious gas that caused wildlife to mutate.  The creepy landmarks have become silly tourist attractions (like the infamous Loonchance Manor, home of Howlfair’s Ghoul Tour) and monster-themed gift shops.  But some people – including Molly Thompson – think that something supernatural really did show up in Howlfair centuries ago, and (more to the point) it never really left.  And because nobody in town knows the scary old stories nearly as well as Molly, she’s the only person who can figure out a way to save the town when the monsters from the legends start turning up again.

Howlfair isn’t based on any particular place – over the decades I’ve dreamt up lots of tales about hauntings and werewolves and ghouls, and the different spooky settings for them slowly formed in my imagination.  However, I’ve always been a bit obsessed with haunted places, and a few years ago my wife and I went on a tour of Britain’s most haunted hotels.  These were hotels I’d read about as a boy in a book called Haunted Britain, and I’d always dreamed of staying in them.  It turned out that I wasn’t as brave as I thought.  I spent pretty much the whole time hiding under duvets shouting WHAT WAS THAT? every time a floorboard creaked.  I’ve tried to capture some of this terror in the book; Molly and her friends aren’t exactly typical brave adventure heroes, and they have lots of WHAT WAS THAT? moments, but they know they must confront their fears if they’re to save Howlfair.  I hope readers enjoy sharing in Molly’s frights as she creeps ever closer to the ghastly secret lurking beneath Loonchance Manor!

A massive thanks to Nick for writing this brilliant piece for us to read. I can’t wait to share all of this with my class… I think they’ll find it incredible! Another massive thank you to publishers for sending me a review copy! I can’t wait to share what we think about this brilliant book in the coming weeks. 

Check out the rest of the blog tour to see what else others are saying about this brilliant, Halloween’y book!

Ghouls-of-Howlfair-Tour-Image

If you’re interested in The Ghouls of Howlfair, it is out NOW. I can’t recommend it enough! 

Are you a fan of a spooky story?
What’s your favourite thing to learn about an author?
Can you tell me your scariest story?

Talk to me in the comments… although don’t scare me too much! 

S x 

BLOG TOUR: Dr Maggie’s Grand Tour of the Solar System

WELCOME TO WORLD SPACE WEEK.
Settle in for a review of a book filled with stars, surprises and SUNthing wonderful!

Sorry for the cheesy opening! Today I’m here with a review of an absolutely beautiful non-fiction book I was sent! I’m honoured to be part of the blog tour to share this book because it is going down a STORM at school and I know it’s going to be VERY popular with teachers and children alike! 

Dr Maggie’s Grand Tour of the Solar System

“This mind-blowing book invites readers to join BBC presenter and renowned space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock (MBE) on an epic journey through the Solar System – visiting planets, moons, asteroids and satellites, and travelling to places where no human has been before.

Along the way, kids can discover how we could live on Mars, learn about the hunt for a mysterious super-Earth, have a snowball fight on Mercury, climb the tallest mountain in the Solar System and much, much more. From spotting solar flares on the Sun to exploring objects at the edge of the icy Oort Cloud, this fun, action-packed title leaves no question unanswered and no meteorite unturned.”

img_0890

This book is an absolute victory in the way in which it teaches children about our wonderfully complicated solar system. It’s told as a tour of the solar system with Dr Maggie telling us everything she knows as she goes on. In recent years, there’s been an insurgence of beautiful non-fiction books and this one absolutely has a place to live in that category. There’s so much information jam packed into this book that there is always something new and interesting to be learning about the solar system. As you can see from the contents page (above), the tour takes us all around space visiting our own planet, to planets far away and gives children an insight into so much in between. 

With information packed on gorgeously laid out spread, it can be sometimes easy to be overwhelmed, but this book does it so well that the children have been loving it! It is certainly inspiration for when we do our own information books about space! This book fits perfectly into my life as the Y5 teacher as we study Space in Science! 

This book breaks down some really complicated science into bitesize chunks that children can process and use. There’s beautiful graphics and illustrations aplenty to enhance what is a BLOODY EXCELLENT science book. For teachers (like me) who feel like they don’t really know their stuff about Space, this would be a great read to maybe enhance knowledge. I certainly learned a few things about Space as I read! I loved that this book also has the potential to create some wonderful questions and talking points in a classroom!

img_0899

As a school, we are having a push on vocabulary (as I think most schools are) and I was delighted to look in the back and see an accessible and scientific glossary in the back. There is nothing better for inquisitive minds than a glossary they can read and access! I love how simplistic, yet scientific, this glossary is! 

If you’re looking for a brilliant book all about space, this is definitely one I would look out for. It’s out now and I promise you, it is brilliant!

Dr Maggie Blog Tour

A massive thank you to the publishers, Michael O’Mara books, for sending me a review copy and for inviting me on the blog tour… I can already tell this is going to be a book that my children and I love for many years to come! 

Would you like to visit space?
Have you got an interesting space fact you can tell me?
What’s something you’ve always wondered about space?

Talk to me in the comments or on twitter! I’d love to know! 

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Sophie Anderson

The Girl Who Speaks Bear: storytelling at its finest

Image(proof copy: see further down for the finished copy)

“Found abandoned in a bear cave as a baby, 12-year-old Yanka has always felt out of place in her small village. When she wakes up to find that her legs have become bear legs, she sets off into the forest to discover who she is, on a journey that takes her from icy rivers to smouldering mountains, with an ever-growing group of misfits alongside her… Interwoven with traditional stories of bears, princesses and dragons, Yanka’s journey is a gorgeously lyrical adventure from the best-selling author of The House With Chicken Legs.”

The Girl Who Speaks Bear tells the story of twelve-year-old Yanka who constantly feels out of place in her tiny village. She knows she’s different to the people around her. She was found abandoned in a bear cave as a baby and feels the tug of the forest calling out to her. When something happens to her which is unexplainable, she sets out on a journey of discovery. She’s desperate to know who she is, where she came from and how she got to where she is today. 

43893965. sy475 (finished cover)

Now, I must preface this review with… I read this months ago and my notes have been sitting in my notebook ever since. Not because I didn’t enjoy it, but because, like other books that I have absolutely adored, I worry that my review won’t do this book, this beautifuly, incredible, book, any justice. 

This review could quite easily just be a list of statements starting with “I loved” because there was so so much I loved about it.

Sophie is one of those authors who manages to weave and wind a story with so many intricacies and a beautiful narrative without you feeling like you’ve lost the path. She showed us that in House With Chicken Legs and has done it again in Bear.

In this story, there’s traditional Russian folks stories dotted throughout and this addition created for me a whole host of intrigue, and added delight and wonder to the story. I love a story which contains other stories. I found myself off researching and reading other Russian folk tales once I’d finished because I wanted to know more. It takes a special kind of author to write stories within stories and do it successfully. Beautiful storytelling is giving the reader what they didn’t even know they wanted and that’s what I got with Bear.

This is a story about love, what it means to be human, family and finding yourself. 

While I love a narrative, I’m a big fan of a character. If I can’t/don’t love a character, it doesn’t matter how good the plot is. When you think of your favourite stories, it’s the chraracters that come to me first, then their adventures. In Bear, I got a main character who I connected with. I think she’s a character that adults and children alike will love for many years to come. The way she grows and questions through the story is just brilliant. Yanka kept me wanting to read on. I wanted to know more about her because I wanted her to find the answers to her questions. She’s a wonderful main character because she’s scared, but brave. She’s curious, yet quiet. She’s also got a wonderful bunch of characters around her… I have a particular love for Mousetrap (her house weasel friend). 

This book, with its wonderful characters and beautifully written words, is an absolute epic fantasy. It’s gentle and it’s bold. It’s brave and it’s quiet. It’s winter and warmth. It’s a total adventure. It’s princesses, dragons and we even get a shout out to Sophie’s other book House With Chicken Legs (which was something I absolutely adored). Put all of these things together and you get something that I think will be a massive hit for a long time. 

Image

A massive shout out to Usborne for their pre-order offer that they were running. If you preordered the book, they sent you a hand stamped print of the front cover. I absolutely love it. I can’t possibly part with it, so it’s living in my Matilda frame until I get it its own picture frame. 

My goodreads review:

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.

And there you have it. Did you get from my review that I loved this book? I hope you did because I really loved this book. I think it’s special. 

Have you read The Girl Who Speaks Bear?
Can you recommend me any books which have stories written into them?
What’s your favourite thing about a book?

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

S x 

Book Box Club: Purely Books Subscription

Hello! 

How are we all?

Today I’m here to talk about EXCITING book post. We all love book post, don’t we? What if you could treat yourself to book post every month? WELL YOU CAN with Book Box Club!

What is Book Box Club?

Book Box Club is a subscription box and secret society for the bookish folk. Book Box Club have two different subscription options:

Book Box Club Subscription – each month, you will receive a gift-wrapped, brand new, YA book, an invitation to their online book club and a selection of themed goodies to match the book you’ve been sent.

Purely Books Subscription – each month, you’ll receive a featured read and an invitation to their online book group. 

All postage to the UK is free, but Book Box Club do send parcels all around the world (postage costs apply).

Purely Books Subscription

The Purely Books Subscription is perfect for the bookish reader like me: I love books, but I don’t collect a lot of bookish goodies. If you’re a bit like me, then the Purely Book subscription is perfect for you! Regardless of the subscription you choose, you get the same book, so when it comes to the online chat, everyone can share in the bookish chat! 

If you’d like to sign up for a subscription, you can get to Book Box Club’s website HERE and use the code BLOGARMY5 to get a discount on your first Purely Books or Book Box Club subscription. (5% off a three month Purely Books Subscription or month-to-month Book Box Club Subscription).

My Experience

Bold and Brave was the theme for April: I received an email on to say my book was on its way and it arrived 2 days later! What’s that for service! Since it was only a book, it fit through the letterbox (so no hassling your neighbours, no waiting for it and no having to collect it from the post office: perfection!).

My book was wrapped in silver paper and tied with very cute blue and white string. It also came with an envelope with my name on – now that is the kind of personal touch I love! Inside the envelope was an invite to the Clubhouse (which is the book club) on with the details of Bold & Brave book group. In the book group, you get the chance to talk to the author, ask any questions you have and make new friends. New BOOKISH friends… the best kind of friends in my humble opinion!

The book

I was chuffed when I realised what the book was! I have heard so much about this book. I haven’t read anything by Zoe Marriott and this makes me so happy. I know there’s been a lot of controversy around this book, but it’s one of those that I’d like to read. That cover is GORGEOUS too… I mean who wouldn’t want to pick this up? It has REAL shelf appeal! 

You can’t beat a good signed book plate too! *swoon* and look at that print (this is in fact the back of the information about the Clubhouse, dual purpose win!)

I love the idea of a Purely Book subscription. For a reader like me who just wants the books and not the extras that go with it, it’s PROPER perfect. I loved the personalised invite and the themed invite too! I am extremely happy with my experience so far! Keep your eyes peeled for my thoughts on the book club! 

Thank you so much to Libby and Kate for inviting me to be in the Blogger Army! Don’t forget you my discount code! 

Have you subscribed to any book boxes?
Have you read this book?
What kind of books would you love to receive?

Speak soon!

S x 

BOOK BLOG: April Tucholke

The Boneless Mercies: a beautifully brilliant book!

img_4235 

“Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are Boneless Mercies – death-traders, hired to kill quickly, quietly and mercifully. It is a job for women, and women only. Men will not do this sad, dark work. Frey has no family, no home, no fortune, and yet her blood sings a song of glory. So when she hears of a monster slaughtering men, women, and children in a northern jarldom, she decides this the Mercies’ one chance to change their fate. But glory comes at a price …”

ANY book that has this gorgeous a cover is SURE to catch my eye. Just look at that turquoise, the black and the foil… and yes, that gold is metallic and shiny (my picture just does it NO justice at all). I had high hopes for a book with such an incredible cover, and my gosh, this book did not disappoint. 

The Boneless Mercies tells the tale of Frey, her friends and a journey through some wicked and wild enemies. Frey and her friends are Boneless Mercies – young women who are hired by people to do mercy killings for anyone who can pay. None of these girls fell into being a Mercy on purpose, they all became mercies because of the way their lives fell into place. No matter though, they are frightfully loyal to each other and there is an awful lot of love between them. I think they friendship might be one of the things I loved most about this book… their unrelenting loyalty and love for each other. We all need friends like that. 

There’s some BRILLIANT themes of life and death in this story. The way that death is approached in this story was fascinating to read. There’s no glorification of death, but a gentle acceptance of it and a giving of death. I loved the girls’ dedication to their jobs, even when they don’t want to do that job anymore. 

Another thing I love SO MUCH about books is the incorporation of folk stories and myths (I know, what a surprise, I’ve definitely typed that sentence before) and this book doesn’t shy away from it. There’s a lovely sense of storytelling in this story. “Storytelling can keep you warm on the coldest of nights” (that’s not a direct quote, but it’s paraphrasing a quote!) You see the girls’ lives and the lives of the ones they meet through their storytelling, and it made me feel like I was sat by a fire, listening. This is the perfect book to read while sitting next to a fire… just incase you want a recommendation! 

I have to take a very little moment here to write a little appreciation for Trigve here. I don’t wanna give any spoilers, but guys. I think he’s just wonderful. If there is to be a book 2, I need my shipper heart to be happy, thanks! 

I’m not gonna lie, yes, there was a bit when I cried (again, no one will be shocked by this!). This book made me 100% invested in these girls’ lives, and I needed them all to keep powering on, keep surviving. Cause I tell you now… I WOULD NOT. In the cold and the snow and the outside all the time? NO THANKS. 

If you, like me, are a lover of books with BRILLIANT characters, some incredible storytelling and set in an intriguing world, then this is 100% the book for you! GO GO GO FRIENDS.

My Goodreads review:

A brilliantly written book with characters I absolutely adored. There was so much in this that I need time to process it. Badass characters, a sense of mythology and an interesting world. I REALLY hope there’s going to be a second one.

Have you read The Boneless Mercies?
Do you think you’d be a good Mercy killer?
RECOMMEND ME BOOKS LIKE THIS PLZ. Thanks.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments, because I need to know if ANYONE ELSE was with me on the Trigve thing. I love him. A massive thank you to Olivia at Simon and Schuster for senging me this book! I wholeheartely loved it! 

S x 

 

Mini reviews: London edition

Last week, I was very lucky to spend time in London with one of my favourite humans in the world, Kelly. While we were in London, we spent much time reading, drinking tea and having a lovely relaxing time – perfect for bookworms like us! 

I thought I’d share mini reviews from the 6 books I managed to read in the 4 days I was away. I love a mini review – bitesize bookish love is always good! 

Book 1:
The Light Between Worlds – Laura Weymouth
Released November 1st from Chicken House

(proof cover!)

I absolutely adored this story – it was pretty unique. There was lots of juxtaposition in this book – the harshness of war vs the freedom of the forest, a need to be in the moment vs a want to be elsehwere – which made for brilliant reading. I adored Ev’s friends and family and I genuinely felt their love for her, but she frustrated me at times. There’s a lot of emotions explored in this book, and there’s some dark themes explored. 

Book 2:
Mr Lemoncello’s Great Library Race – Chris Grabenstein

Again, this was one that I thought was just wonderful. It was good for my brain to go from something quite dark to this library based caper. It is such fun! I would love to visit Mr. Lemoncello’s library and take part in his fun games. I hadn’t read the first 2 of these books before this one, but that didn’t spoil it whatsoever (I have since bought book 1 and 2!). This book is all about sharing the love of libraries, making friends and the power of the truth. I can’t wait to recommend this to the kids at school!

Book 3:
Oliver and the Seawigs – Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

I actually managed to pick this up from Oxfam Book Shop and it’s a good job too, because I finished Mr. Lemoncello quickly so needed a back up book to read! This is a funny, irreverent adventure with a young boy who makes friends with a mermaid and an island (I know right?!) and they have to fight off some baddies. I really enjoyed it, it’ll fit perfectly in our school library! I’d love to pick up more from these authors!

Book 4: 
More Happy Than Not – Adam Silvera

(yes that is more tea!)

When I finished this book I was very much not ok. I’ve been in Aaron’s shoes – wanting to be someone I’m not. I’m so sad for him. I can’t imagine going through what he ends up going through. This book is littered with love and the struggle with accepting who you are. Even now thinking back to this book, I am so sad for him. This book is one I would recommend EVERYONE READS. It is HEARTBREAKING. I didn’t see the twist coming, it shocked me. Adam Silvera continues to write incredible books. 

Book 5: 
Leah on the Offbeat – Becky Albertalli

(hey look at that guys, more tea!)

OH LEAH. I really wanted to love this. Don’t get me wrong, I did really enjoy it. There’s just things about it that frustrate me. I didn’t ship it, which as a serial shipper is a MASSIVE surprise to me, so it made it hard for me to get fully into. Having read Simon, I wanted to just swoon over everything, and I didn’t. I would recommend this book though, it is good. I think there’s a bit of me in Leah and there’s some of Leah’s personality I don’t like… so yeah. I have complex emotions about this book. 

Book 6:
The Friendship Fails of Emma Nash – Chloe Seagar

Friendship Fails of Emma Nash

This made me chuckle a lot. It’s funny and relatable. There were many moments where I cackled out loud. This is a book that teenagers will love. It’s well worth a read if you want something witty. Emma Nash goes through a LOT. 

So there you have it! My mini London reading haul!

Have you read any of these books?
Do you have thoughts about Leah that we can talk about?
Does Adam Silvera continue to break your heart too?

Lets talk!

S x

Take a trip to 7 Stories

This past weekend, I was invited to speak at a Youth Libraries Group event hosted at 7 Stories and as part of the event we were allowed to have a look around 7 Stories at the exhibitions on show. So during lunchtime, I tottled off down the stairs and had a look at 2 of the exhibitions that are currently housed at 7 Stories.

If you’re not familiar with what 7 Stories is, you can check out their website here. It is full of useful information!

First up, I went to the Comics exhibition and it made my heart very happy!

From their website, it gives this information about the Comics exhibition:
“Seven Stories has gathered together an eclectic mix of original comic art to impress and inspire all comics’ fans. See Desperate Dan and Dennis the Menace as they were drawn in the 1940s and 50s; find old friends like Oor Wullie, Minnie the Minx and Roy of the Rovers; imagine yourself on an adventure with Dan Dare from The Eagle. 
The exhibition features Captain America, Wonder Woman, Superman and Hulk as drawn by British artist Ian Churchill. Ian works for Marvel and DC Comics, America’s largest comic corporations.
Current British comics creators like Kate Brown, Jamie Smart and Laura Ellen Anderson have prepared storyboards, sketches and 3D models to lend to the exhibition as well as giving Seven Stories’ visitors unique insight into their creative processes.”

Then I went to the Time To Get Up exhibition, which is all about giving children stories for all times of the day and different parts of life. Information on the website says:
“The first few years of a child’s life are full of new experiences, and a lot of new routine. From getting up to going to bed, reading books together can offer reassurance and encouragement whilst sharing books can also make the everyday exciting! Time to Get Up is packed full of wonderful stories all about day to day activities. With old favourites and new titles, and amazing artwork by super-talented illustrators, get ready to look, talk, play and read together!
For the first time, we are using an entirely unique display method inspired by touch and feel boards. This enables children to explore new and exciting ways of engaging directly with the exhibition’s artwork. Young explorers can see, touch, smell and hear their way through a variety of sensory activities, all linked to the exciting new experiences and routines that every young child enjoys.  
Time to Get Up features two brand new, specially designed Sensory Backpacks, complete with a beautiful, interactive blanket, a book and a selection of sensory props to help young ones explore the exhibition. Our newest Sensory explorer Backpacks will cover two featured books from the exhibition, ‘Snug’ by Carol Thompson and ‘Me and My Dad’ by Robin Shaw.”

Both of the exhibitions were gorgeous and super inviting! I will be looking at visiting with my family in the coming weeks!

Check out the 7 Stories website for more details of events and exhibitions to come… I in particular like the sound of ‘Winged Tales of the North’.

S x

#EasterReadathon round up

During Easter weekend, the brilliant Kate (of Reading Through Infinity fame) was hosting the #EasterReadathon. I don’t know if I ever officially signed up… I didn’t have a TBR. I’m very much a mood reader. However… I had a VERY productive #EasterReadathon, so I thought I would share the books I read with their synopsis and short thoughts about the books! Full reviews will come in time, do not fear guys. 

During #EasterReadathon I managed to read 7 books. 7 books in 4 days is not bad going!

Book 1
The Company of Eight – Harriet Whitehorn 

(left: my proof copy/right: finished cover)

“When Ravellous’s Circus Ship comes to Minaris, Cass is determined to audition despite her guardian Mrs Potts’s disapproval. But when her chance is snatched away from her, Cass refuses to give up. She sets out to follow the Circus Ship and the journey leads her into dangers that challenge even her adventurous spirit. Will she succeed in following her dream, or is her destiny something altogether different?”

I really enjoyed this. It was fast paced and full of danger and peril. The main character was really likeable, I want to be her friend! The language was beautifully rich. I want to join the company! Sword fighting and badass women? SIGN ME UP. Thank you so much Stripes for my proof copy!

Book 2
Spark – Alice Broadway

38091303

“Leora is reeling: questioning everything she has ever known about her family and herself. As half-Marked and half-Blank, can she ever wholly belong in either fractured community? Mayor Longsight wants to use her as a weapon: to infiltrate Featherstone, home of the Blanks, and deliver them to him for obliteration. Leora longs for answers about her mysterious birth mother, and Featherstone may reveal them. But will she find solace and safety there or a viper’s nest of suspicion and secrets?”

Man. I have COMPLEX emotions about this book. I love Leora so much. I just can’t process how I feel about this book yet. A full review of this is to come because I can’t put into words how much I loved it. The story telling, the world building, the interwoven fairytales (comnpare these to Ink and your brain will explode). It’s just majestic. I love Alice so much. I can’t wait for book 3 of this trilogy… I only have to wait a year!

Book 3
The Storm Keeper’s Island – Catherine Doyle

(left: my proof copy/right: finished cover)

“Fionn Boyle and his older sister Tara have been sent to stay with their grandfather on the remote island of Arranmore for the summer. Though Fionn has never met his grandfather before – an eccentric old man who lives in a tiny cottage filled to the brim with candles – he knows he comes from a long line of brave lifeboat men, who wear the sea behind their eyes. Fionn is scared of the sea. He has no interest in adventure or shipwrecks or the restless wind that rustles through the island, as though in search of something. But an old magic is stirring deep inside the layers of Arranmore, and it is calling out to Fionn.”

This book is INCREDIBLE. I read it in a matter of hours. I just adored it. Fionn is a remarkable young man – his progression from scared young man, to quite a brave and bold man is wonderful. The magic, the island, the mystical nature of the situation, the relationships with his family. I can’t wait for this to come out (July, I believe!) and everyone to experience this wonderousness. (A full review will come closer to release!) Thank you so much to Kids Bloomsbury for my proof! 

Book 4
Skylarks – Karen Gregory

“When she was little, Joni used to have dreams that she could fly. But these days her feet are firmly on the ground – they have to be when money’s tight and her dad can’t work and the whole family has to pull together to keep afloat. Then she meets Annabel. Annabel is everything Joni isn’t, and yet there’s a spark between them. Though Joni barely believes it at first, she thinks they might be falling in love. But when Annabel’s parents find out about the relationship, it’s clear they believe there are some differences that are impossible to overcome…”

This was an interesting one! I absolutely ADORED Countless by Karen Gregory (even now it makes me blub thinking about it!) and was looking forward to this! Skylarks explores social class, injustice and the power of money. It’s refreshing to read something where the person is a little bit more real. It packs a punch too. I love the Cooper family a lot. Thank you so much to Kids Bloomsbury for my proof!

Book 5
The Buried Crown – Ally Sherrick

“It’s World War Two and Britain is on the brink of invasion. Londoner George has been sent to live in in the countryside while his brother and guardian, Charlie, fights overseas. But the war is closer than he thinks. An ancient burial ground nearby contains a priceless treasure, a magical Anglo-Saxon crown Hitler is desperate to possess. Alongside Kitty, the granddaughter of a Jewish archaeologist, George must find and protect the crown from the Nazi invaders before it’s too late…”

This was a SURPRISE entry. The lovelies of Chicken House sent it over to me and the gold made me pick it up. AND MY WORD, WHAT A BOOK. I absolutely adored it. It was full of adventure. I’m a sucker for a WW2 book, so this was RIGHT UP MY ALLEY. A brave young man protecting something unique from the hands of Hitler himself? YES PLZ. Memorable characters and a brilliant plot – watch out for a full review coming up!

Book 6
Me Mam. Me Dad. Me

“Danny’s mam has a new boyfriend. Initially, all is good – Callum seems nice enough, and Danny can’t deny he’s got a cool set up; big house, fast car, massive TV, and Mam seems to really like him. But cracks begin to show, and they’re not the sort that can be easily repaired. As Danny witnesses Mam suffer and Callum spiral out of control he goes in search of his dad. The Dad he’s never met.”

I don’t want to say too much about this because I have a blog post coming up about it, but I need to tell you guys how much I loved it. Look, I’m a Geordie. There are VERY FEW books set in Geordieland. To read a book written by a Geordie, set in Geordieland, with a LIKEABLE Geordie main character is a rare occurance for me. This story had my guts in knots for 99% of the time. I love Danny. So much. Thank you so much Head of Zeus for sending this to me. It’s made an imprint in my heart.

Book 7
Max the Detective Cat: The Disappearing Diva

“Max, chief mouse-hunter at the Theatre Royal, is up to his whiskers in his first mystery! Max is a pampered cat, used to the finer things in life, until a fun mouse chase goes badly wrong and he finds himself scruffy and alone and hiding out at the Theatre Royal. It’s here that Max takes on his first case as a detective cat, when he notices that famous singer Madame Emerald is acting strangely. Why is her maid so terrified? And what kind of singer doesn’t like to sing in public? Soon Max is trapped in a complicated web of crime, dashing round dancers’ legs and over the rooftops of London in a race to catch a clever thief…”

The lovely Nosy Crow gang sent me this book and it was a properly fun caper. It gave me such Aristocat vibes too, in the very best way. I really enjoyed it. Super readable and interesting. The illustrations were great too! A detective cat, living in a theatre, foiling a theft? Yes please! 

And there you have it! My haul of #EasterReadathon books! I don’t always get through 7 books in one weekend, I’ll have you know! It’s a testament to how brilliant these books were that I got through them all! Thanks so much Kate for hosting! 

Did you join in #EasterReadathon?
How many books do you reckon you could get through in a weekend?
Are there any on this list you’ve read, or would like to read?

Speak to me! Comment me, tweet me! 

S x

BOOKBLOG: Melinda Salisbury

HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY TO THE ABSOLUTELY MAGNIFICENT ‘STATE OF SORROW’.

You really thought you could get away from me? You really think I wouldn’t celebrate this majestic day with some kind of State of Sorrow appreciation post? 

Today, I will share my review with you. There will be more State of Sorrow themed posts coming in the next few days. I am not sorry at all. 

dsqspp5wkauoov4

State of Sorrow: delicious, deceptive, daring

A people cowed by grief and darkness.
A cut-throat race for power and victory.
A girl with everything and nothing to lose…

Sorrow all but rules the Court of Tears, in a land gripped by perpetual grief, forever mourning her brother who died just days before Sorrow was born. By day she governs in place of her father, by night she seeks secret solace in the arms of the boy she’s loved since childhood. But when her brother is seemingly found alive, and intent on taking control, Sorrow has to choose whether to step aside for a stranger who might not be who he claims to be, or embark on a power struggle for a position she never really wanted.”

Hello. My name is Steph and Melinda Salisbury is my absolute queen.
(I feel like I open all of my Melinda Salisbury blog posts like that, but it’s true.)

So, I went into reading State of Sorrow ignoring the blurb. I won’t lie. I am a bit of a blurb ignorer. I’d read the sampler for State of Sorrow, which I got at YALC, a few months ago and I knew I was in for another absolute barrage of emotions, badass brilliant characters, an evil villain and a whole load of incredible world building. AND I WAS ALL ABOUT IT. There’s a MASSIVE surprise with her brother, which I did not see coming. I DID NOT KNOW IT WOULD HAPPEN, I HAD IGNORED THIS (it’s on the blurb/synopsis apparently). Therefore when I read I WAS THE MOST SURPRISED. It was like BAM KABLAM. SLAP IN THE FACE BRILLIANT. Like, I wasn’t expecting it. But my gosh was it brilliant.

So, Sorrow. She’s a brilliant young woman. She’s unwillingly doing a job her father should be – ruling a land that are in constant mourning for a brother lost years before. She’s living in the shadow of his sadness. She’s in love with a young man she can’t really be seen with. She’s fighting losing battles against people she can’t influence. Her father is pretty useless, with a venomous man whispering in his ear. Sorrow just wants it to be time when she’s finally in control, so she can get rid of the venomous letch. Speaking of our friend, the venomous letch. He’s POISON. He’s the thing Mel does so well. She does wily, deceptive, sly characters brilliantly. They’re just there weaving their wily little plans. They’re plotting and scheming all the way through. He made me uncomfortable, but in that very excellent way that good baddies do. He’s like a sly fox.Doing dirty deeds all over, poisoning minds. 

OK, so there are more characters than this in State of Sorrow. There’s a brilliant character who all the way through I was like “YES I LOVE YOU, TEAM YOU” and then they do something bad and my reaction to this was nothing short of “WHAT ARE YOU DOING NO WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU”. There may be some redemption though. I’m not saying for definite. Sorrow has some brilliant friends too. Irris is pretty special. I really quite liked her. 

Mel writes incredible characters. 
Mel writes incredible plots.
Mel writes incredible emotions. 
Mel writes incredible worlds.

There’s this remarkable sense of BEING in the book. The world is built so incredibly well around you that you’re immersed entirely in this world of a mournful world: the castles, the lands, the sorrow, the monotony. You can’t NOT be there. The lands have history, they have meaning, they make sense. There’s always something magical and slightly mysterious going on. From incredible expanses of land, the small cottages, to freezing cold rivers…it all fits in this magical land where sorrow rules. 

WHILE YOU’RE STILL HERE… canwe just talk about emotions?If you’re reading a Melinda Salisbury book I can guarantee that your emotions will not be in tact by the end of your stay. Your heart will be stood on, repaired and then stood on again. There’s sheer disbelief; there’s contempt; there’s love and lust; there’s belief and disbelief and there’s this incredible sense of belonging. We’re all going through these emotions together. We are all shocked. There’s a lot of YES SORROW going on. You can’t NOT root for her. You can’t NOT want her to succeed. You can’t NOT be appalled at the behaviour of some of the characters. You can’t NOT be sad. There’s this incredible balance of being looked after, being secure and them BAM NOTHING IS THE SAME. I’m a massive fan of this. If you’ve read The Sin Eater’s Daughter trilogy you’ll know what I mean.

dsnnkgnxkaam2rr

Look at my happy little face. This was me reading State of Sorrow in Starbucks. Thanks @kellysrambles for the picture!

Are you still here?Excellent, I have more to tell you. I hope you’re enjoying this review. It may be my longest review to date. I don’t apologise for this. State of Sorrow is totally worth it. 

So what have I told you about so far? Sorrow, some other characters, worldbuilding, emotions. What else? SO MUCH. Oh yes… plot.

As I’ve said, I was OBLIVIOUS to one of the plot twists (which the blurb gives away, I was just oblivious to this), however State of Sorrow does not just have ONE plot twist there are SO SO MANY that it’s exceptional. The pace of this book is brilliant. You get comfy in one little plot line and BAM there’s a change. Some of the twists are just little, a bump in the road and then there’s others that just hit you hard on the head and spin your world upside down. The way this story is woven together is exceptional. (I don’t have enough superlatives for this book). Everything fits. It’s tantalisingly good. The ending will make you go NO DON’T END THERE. PLEASE DON’T END THERE. 

I can’t believe we’re being made to wait for more. I can’t wait for more. 

My goodreads review reads:

If it was possible to give a book more than 5 stars I would. This book is delicious, deceptive and daring. I absolutely love Sorrow and everything she stands for. There are more twists and turns in this book than I can count. I can’t explain how brilliant this plot, this world, these characters (you’ll love some, hate others), this story weaving is. Just incredible. I can’t WAIT for the next one. The ending of this is TANTALISING. I NEED MORE NOW.

If you want a story that will take you to an incredible new land with sibling rivalry, brilliant characters and an exceptional plot then PLEASE check out State of Sorrow. I was very lucky to be sent a copy and I am so grateful. Thanks, Mel!

Thank you for getting to the end of my review. If you made it this far I owe you a sticker. Please let me know in the comments if you got this far. 

S x

BOOKBLOG: Stephen King

The Eyes of the Dragon: brilliantly enthralling story perfect for YA lovers!

img_9361

“A fantasy of heroic adventure, set in the kingdom of Delain. It involves a king who is poisoned, a young and beautiful queen, a prince locked in a high tower while his younger brother assumes the throne, and an evil magician who harbours terrible secrets and malevolent plans.”

Once in a while, your friends come along and recommend a book to you that you think “there is no way I’m going to enjoy that, I would never read anything by him, he’s not my type” and then BAM you’re hit in the face by an incredible book like this. I had my doubts, but I was instantly hooked. (For another book I had that exact same feeling for… go check out Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer. Absolutely incredible)

The gorgeous people over at @WaterstonesUxbr (Waterstones Uxbridge) recommended it to me and I am SO GLAD. They’re lovely over there, go give them a follow! Pester them for book recommendations. 

I was sceptical about this because I read a LOT of YA and Stephen King doesn’t scream YA to me, but I was told to give it a shot. It’s written in a very YA way – long before YA was even a thing! Never before has a book been so hit on the head in such a way.

In a nutshell, The Eyes of the Dragon is the story of a prince who is framed for a murder he didn’t commit, an evil advisor to the king and a king who’s too young and naive to tell the truth. I LOVED IT. SO MUCH. 

It’s so clever, so well woven. I didn’t want to stop reading it. It just worked, so beautifully. It’s storytelling at its absolute best. 

If you’re a fan of worlds with magic, evilness and incredible characters then I totally will make you read this!

Have you read this?
Have you read any Stephen King books?
Are there any books you look at and think ‘oh no, that’s not for me‘ but then read it and loved it?

Let me know in the comments or on twitter!! 

S x

p.s. this review has done this book no justice whatsoever, just read it then we can talk about how clever Peter is, how stupid Thomas is, how evil Flagg is and how bloody incredible this book is!