BOOK BLOG: Helena Duggan

The Battle For Perfect: a creepily perfect ending!

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“Things have quietened down in the town that used to be Perfect. But stories reach Violet and Boy of five missing scientists. And then they discover something odd in the forest outside Town – a mirror maze hiding a huge castle. Creeping inside, they overhear a terrible plan – a zombie army is about march on Town. Can Violet and Boy save their friends?”

Anyone who has read my blog in the past will know that I am a MASSIVE fan of the A Place Called Perfect series by Helena Duggan. I raced through book 1, devoured book 2 and then when it came to book 3… I was SO NOT READY TO SAY GOODBYE that I savoured every moment. 

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For those who don’t know the series, it follows a young girl called Violet, who lives in a town called Perfect. There’s been a lot of goings on in Perfect, from brothers who try and take over, to child snatchers and all sorts. It’s Violet’s job to try and save the day. With the help of her friend Boy, she manages each and every time to save the day. These books are a wonderful mix of creepy, adventure-filled and filled with gorgeous description. 

I’d waited a long time for book 3 to come out. Once I’d read book 2, I was ready for book 3. In Battle for Perfect, we get the next installment in the series. Violet and Boy need to face off against some of their biggest, and meanest, and closest, villains. With zombies galore and some wonderful science on show, it’s up to Violet and Boy to try and save the town from once again being taken over by scheming wrong-doers. 

One of the things I love most about these books is that they’re just a little bit on the creepy side. They’re not so creepy that they give you nightmares, but they’re just on that balance between spine tingling and normal. I read this book with a slight fear in me. The whole series has been the same, like it could be really bloody scary, but it’s just the right amount of creepy. I mean eye plants??? 

Another of the things that I love so much about this series is Violet. She’s bloody wonderful. She’s a great main character to read. She’s bold, brave and a little bit scared. In Battle for Perfect, she shows that she just wants to be the best friend she can be with Boy, but she doubts things that she should be doing. I think it was lovely to see, once again, that it’s Violet and her friends that are coming to save the day again. Perfect wouldn’t be the place it is if it weren’t for Violet! In Battle for Perfect, you get some lovely reappearances from some familiar faces. Violet has her very own crew of super sleuths who are on hand to help save the day. I mean, I would need a MASSIVE band of super sleuths to try and take down an army of zombies. (I’d be rubbish at it to be honest…)

This book, like the previous 2, was the perfect mix of being fast paced, some wonderful characters and being back in the world that I love (despite the fact it creeps me out). I’m so sad that it’s now over, but it was a complete and utter ride! Shout out here to Karl James Mountford for the cover illustrations and the illustrations inside… they’re definitely a series of books that are BEAUTIFUL to look at! 

On another note… my kids are LOVING book 1 in this series and I already have a waiting list for the two copies of the book we have! I’m loving seeing them all getting lost in Violet and Boy’s world! 

My Goodreads review:

Bloody brilliant. It was a brilliant way to say goodbye to this series. Jam packed with science, zombies, the characters and the world we know and love! I’m gutted this series is over, but their ending seems more than closure.

And just like that, it’s all over. I hope you enjoyed this review!

Can you recommend me some scary/creepy books?
Have you read the Perfect series?

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

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Sophie Anderson

The Girl Who Speaks Bear: storytelling at its finest

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“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. 

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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. 

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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 BLOG: Recent reads!

Hello there! 

How are you all today? 

I’m here with some mini reviews of some of my recent reads. I read a LOT during the Summer holidays and am going to find it near impossible to write full reviews for everything, so I’m going to do a mixture of mini reviews and full reviews of things over the next few weeks. My reading will slow way down now that I’m back to school so it should give me time to catch up on things I’ve not reveiwed yet on my blog! 

Today I’m going to review 3 books.
3 books that I read pretty close together.
3 books with quite similar themes!

Let’s get on with it! 

Stolen – Lucy Christopher

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“IT HAPPENED LIKE THIS.
I was stolen from an airport. Kidnapped. Taken from everything I knew, everything I was used to. Imprisoned by sand and heat, dirt and danger. And he expected me to love him.
This is my story. A letter to my captor.”

This has been sat on my shelf for like 2 years (I’m sure I picked it up at YALC 2 years ago) and I totally forgot about it because it was on one of my 2 deep shelves. It’s the story of Gemma, a young girl who is kidnapped from an airport one day. She’s taken away from everyone she’s ever known, everything she’s ever known and is suddenly in a strange house in the middle of nowhere in Australia with a man who she has never met before. 

I loved this. It was SO BLOODY COMPELLING. I needed to know what was going to happen next. The whole premise was fascinating to me. This book is written as one long letter (so there’s no chapters which I initially found jarring but it worked for this book so well) from Gemma to her captor. She goes through everything that happened to her in the time she spent with him. She talks about how she felt and the things that happened to her. I think because it was written as a letter there were times where I found her captor Ty slightly human, but man, I hated that guy. So so much. He’s not an OK person. 

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly – Stephanie Oakes

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“The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust. And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too. Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it’s clear that Minnow knows something—but she’s not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.”

Sacred Lies tells the story of Minnow, a young girl who was part of a cult. The cult has recently lost their prophet and there was a fire at the complex. Minnow has the chance to be free from everything: the cult, their way of life, her secrets, their control over her. She’s just got to be willing to tell someone the secrets she’s held so dearly on to. 

As you know if you’ve been here for a while, I bloody love a cult book – I think they’re fascinating. My friend Kelly has been ranting and raving about this book for months, but I’ve just never managed to pick it up. I found it for cheap and I decided that now was the time and my lord, it did not disappoint. It was everything I wanted from a cult book: lies, deception, secrecy, isolation, family, friends, twisting of the truth. Minnow goes through A LOT. An awful lot. There’s some fascinating threads of what the world is compared to what Minnow thinks of the world throughout this book and it kept me hooked. I read this book within a few hours and now I am mourning the loss of another cult book (if you can recommend me any, yes I’ve read After the Fire, then please shout)

The Girls

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“Evie Boyd is fourteen and desperate to be noticed. It’s the summer of 1969 and restless, empty days stretch ahead of her. Until she sees them. The girls. Hair long and uncombed, jewelry catching the sun. And at their centre, Suzanne, black-haired and beautiful. If not for Suzanne, she might not have gone. But, intoxicated by her and the life she promises, Evie follows the girls back to the decaying ranch where they live. Was there a warning? A sign of what was coming? Or did Evie know already that there was no way back?”

The Girls tells the story of Evie, a young girl who is kind of lured into this group of drug smoking, free living and free loving group one day after she some what falls in love with the ever so enchanting Suzanne. What happens when Evie gets there isn’t what she was expecting and Evie risks a lot in her life to stay on the right side of her new bunch of friends… who might not actually be that great underneath the surface.

This book is not the traditional age range I normally read: this is definitely not YA, so I was a bit out of my comfort zone here. Despite that fact, I enjoyed this book, but when I finished it left me needing a bit of closure. I had so so many questions left that needed to be answered. This book is fascinating in parts… I needed to keep reading at many points becuase there were so many things which kept me hooked. A bit like Evie, I was hooked and curious about this new group of friends she’d made. Told in flashbacks and Evie’s life as it currently is, I found that I was more bothered in the actual story of the “cult” than I was in Evie’s life now. 

And there we go! 3 books with very similar themes that I read on the trot… there were moments where I got all 3 of them jumbled, but that’s OK! It’ll teach me not to read such similar books together again haha!

Have you read any books like these recently?
Can you recommend me any cult books?
What have you read recently that you’d recommend?

Talk to me in the comments! 

S x 

Summer Book Tag

It’s finally time to say goodbye to the Summer… so I thought I would do ONE LAST tag all about the Summer! (What can I say? I’m holding on as long as I can!!) I saw this gorgeous little tag on Rosie’s blog and I just knew it was the perfect thing to say goodbye to Summer with!

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What book cover makes you think of Summer?

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You know what? Any time I see Sara Barnard covers, I think of Summer. I dunno if it’s the gold or what… but they always make me think of Summer (particularly Goodbye Perfect)

Which book has brightened your day?

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I read I,Cosmo over the Summer and it filled me with delight, hope and joy. It is an amazing story with a doggo as the main character (he doesn’t die, I promise!). It’s just a gorgeous story about friendship, family, bravery and love.

Find a book with a yellow cover:

This was one of the #SixforSunday prompts recently, so here’s LOADS!!

 

What is your favourite Summer beach read?

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I reckon Alex in Wonderland would be a proper fun beach read. As it’s set at the beach, I think it would be proper apt to read… plus we all need a bit of light entertainment when we’re relaxing at the seaside!

Which action book had you running for the ice cream man?

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For all it disappointed me… the ending of Two Can Keep A Secret had me FLABBERGASTED. That last line though. 

Which book has left you with a bad an/or painful ending?

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Guys. I can’t tell you how much A Pocketful of Stars BROKE ME. Like, IN HALF. Aisha Bushby has a lot to answer for. 

Sunset: Which book gave you the happiest feelings when it ended?

I’m going to cheat and mention 2. No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter because I needed that book in my life and the ending is like a big F YOU to the world (Emily is an absolute wonder characters and she needs more love); Song of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury because the ending NOT WHAT I EXPECTED but EVERYTHING I NEEDED. The ending of that duology is SO BLOODY SPOT ON. Man. I miss Sorrow and Luvian. (Luvian tho)

Which book cover reminds you of a sunset?

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Purely based on the colours, The Radleys by Matt Haig is perfect for this. It’s also a BRILLIANT story. (I don’t think he’s written a bad book so far!)

What is one book or series you hope to read this Summer?

Well, I’m going to say one that I hope to read NEXT Summer because Summer is over *weeps*

I’m gonna be predictable AF here and say State of Sorrow and Song of Sorrow by Queen Melinda Salisbury. For so so many reasons. If you don’t know what they are then are you even a reader of this blog? If you haven’t read them yet, can you please do that because Mel deserves all of the love and all of the praise. 

And there we go.. this tag, just like Summer, is officially over!! BOOHOO. 

If you fancy doing this tag, go for it. If you have a tag you think I’d be interested in, please let me know… I love a Thursday tag!

S x

 

August in books!

Hello there everyone!

How are we doing? Happy September to everyone! Happy back to school week to all of my teacher friends and parent friends! I hope you’ve all had a lovely Summer holiday. I tell you what, I did a LOT of reading! 

I’m here today to share the books I got reading in August! 

In August, I:

Enjoyed the Summer holidays.
Spent a lot of time eating delicious breakfasts and drinking yummy tea.
Saw a lot of my favourite people.
Daydreamed about a lot of holidays.
Did a lot of manual labour at school.
FINALLY created a real library in school (with the help of our amazing facilities manager).
Enjoyed a lot of laughing and chilling.
Went to the Lakes with my mam, auntie and uncle.
Had one of the best breakfast dates with my cousin.
Read 25 (!) books!

Let’s start with MG

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What a delicious mix of books here! From doggos who want to save their family (I, Cosmo), to a brilliant young girl living in Africa (The Girl Savage), to a GEORDIE CHARACTER (The Frozen Sea), there’s something here for everyone! I’ve really loved reading MG books this month because I read quite a lot of book 2 in series (Patina, Lost Tide Warriors, Under Earth, Truth Pixie Goes to School and The Frozen Sea) so I got to revisit some of my favourite worlds that I’ve come across AND meet some new characters and some new worlds!

Now the YA books!

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Look at that host of YA books!! I didn’t realise I’d read so many YA books until I put them all together and I counted them! 12 YA books in one month… I am FLABBERGASTED! But also pretty chuffed. I’ve read some absolute corkers this month. From life on a jellyfish (Jelly, obv), to a young girl stolen from her parents in an airport (Stolen), to the book that’s made me the angriest this year (I Hold Your Heart), these books have taken me to brand new worlds, helped me revisit some worlds and introduced me to some of the most wonderful chracters I know. Just like my MG books, I’ve read sequels (Demon World, The Curses), a series starter (Three Dark Crowns) and a whole host of standalones! Just how I like it!

And finally… (I know… you’re thinking, but Steph, you don’t read anything else…)

BOOKS FOR ADULTS

I know, it’s OK. I’m still the same old Steph you know and love, I promise!

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This month is the month I’ve branched out the most (I say that and there’s only 4 books on this list ha!). This is quite a range of books even within the 4. I wanna shout about all of these books because they’re SO BLOODY GOOD. They all serve an amazing purpose in the world and more people need to read them. From witchy happenings in a sleepy town (sanctuary), to the story of a doctor in our beloved NHS (This Is Going To Hurt), a short essay about why kids books are mint (Why You Should Read Children’s Books…), this little pile of books is EXCEPTIONAL pals. 

And there we have it… all the books I read in August! I know there is NO WAY September is going to be this productive, but I’m hoping to keep to reading every/most days so I maybe have double figures over the month.  

HOW AM I DOING FOR MY BOOK CHALLENGES?

GOODREADS CHALLENGE: 105/52
#52BOOKS CHALLENGE (JUST KIDS BOOKS): 50/52

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

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

What would you recommend me from your 2019 reading list?

Speak to you all soon, 

S x 

BOOK BLOG: YA wrap up!

Hello everyone!

I’m back at it again with some mini reviews! I’ve had a very busy August of reading so far and thought I’d share some mini reviews of some of the amazing YA I’ve been reading! 

Scars like Wings by Erin Stewart

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“Ava Lee has lost everything there is to lose: Her parents. Her best friend. Her home. Even her face. She doesn’t need a mirror to know what she looks like–she can see her reflection in the eyes of everyone around her. A year after the fire that destroyed her world, her aunt and uncle have decided she should go back to high school. Be “normal” again. Whatever that is. Ava knows better. There is no normal for someone like her. And forget making friends–no one wants to be seen with the Burned Girl, now or ever. But when Ava meets a fellow survivor named Piper, she begins to feel like maybe she doesn’t have to face the nightmare alone. Sarcastic and blunt, Piper isn’t afraid to push Ava out of her comfort zone. Yet Piper is fighting her own battle, and soon Ava must decide if she’s going to fade back into her scars . . . or let the people by her side help her fly.”

My my. Reading this book was like a punch in the gut. This book is one of those that makes an impact and fast. We all have scars, but not like Ava. Ava was burned in a fire and she’s hidden herself away from the world ever since. This all changes when she is told she is ready to go back to school. Obviously, a young girl who has been cordoned off from the real world for a year, who now has to go back into the world of school is going to be terrified. What happens when she gets there is an emotional rollercoaster. From her incredible family, to the friends she makes, to the shout outs to musicals, this book was just wonderful. It hit me where it hurt and made me cry. I love Ava’s group of friends; they’re all lucky to have each other. I’m sad to be finished; to say goodbye to the sarcasm, friendship, bravery and love they shared. Massive thank you to Simon and Schuster for the review copy!

I Hold Your Heart by Karen Gregory

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“When Gemma meets Aaron, she feels truly seen for the first time. Their love story is the intense kind. The written-in-the-stars, excluding-all-others kind. The kind you write songs about. But little by little their relationship takes over Gemma’s life. What happens when being seen becomes being watched, and care becomes control?”

MY GOD. I don’t know that I can use the word “enjoy” about this book because I hate Aaron SO MUCH. I can’t talk about this book without giving away too many spoilkers, but Aaron is possibly the WORST character I’ve ever come across. The ending was NOT what I wanted, no was it what he deserved. Telling a story of love, you see through both Gemma and Aaron’s eyes what their relationship is. This book was gripping, tough to read and made me so angry. I can’t talk about this book without being angry and I need someone else to join me in the anger. However, in amongst all of that anger and that weird obsessive Aaron behaviour, there’s also so much love, friendship, fighting for the ones you love and kindness. Gemma is surrounded by so much love (some of it more toxic!)

Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott

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“Stella Grant likes to be in control—even though her totally out of control lungs have sent her in and out of the hospital most of her life. At this point, what Stella needs to control most is keeping herself away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardize the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions.
The only thing Will Newman wants to be in control of is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments. Soon, he’ll turn eighteen and then he’ll be able to unplug all these machines and actually go see the world, not just its hospitals.
Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on Stella she could lose her spot on the transplant list. Either one of them could die. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. Would five feet apart really be so dangerous if it stops their hearts from breaking too?”

I’m a sucker for a bit of romance. I’m even more of a sucker for “shouldn’t be trogether, but let’s be honest, they’re meant to be together”. This book tells the story of Stella and Will, two young people who are in hospital. Two young people who aren’t allowed to be around other people because it could be life-threatening. However, when they find each other, they find something they’ve both been looking for. I loved this book, an awful lot. I love Will. I love Poe. Stella is an angel. Barb is lush. This is a beautiful story of love at its limits. There’s just so much love in this book. Let’s not deny the fact that I definitely cried. There’s so much lush about this book. And now it’s been made into a film… but I don’t think my emotions are ready to be battered again just yet! Massive thank you to Simon and Schuster for the review copy!

Dead Popular by Sue Wallman

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“The reigning queen bee, Kate, knows that you don’t become the most powerful girl at school by playing nice. But when other students start revealing long-held secrets anonymously, she realizes someone is playing a much more dangerous game – and they know too much about Kate’s past. If she doesn’t figure out who’s behind this, her final year at Pankhurst could be exactly that: her final year.”

This tells the story of a boarding school full of entitled, posh scholars who are obsessed with beauty. I loved the setting of the boarding school and the beach. I think it’s a great combination. If you’re a fan of a boarding school book, this will be right up your street! I really really loved Munro – I think the characters in this book make it enticing and dark. There’s some dark motives and even darker deeds. There’s a mystery element that I enjoyed too… I didn’t see it coming, but when it did BAM! This is one of those books that starts to show itself to you slowly, but once you’re there, it’s like YEP that’s why you went a bit slower. You get to know the characters and their dynamics really well before you get into the action. Massive thank you to Scholastic for the review copy!

PHEW. There we go! Just 4 of the YA books I’ve read recently. I really enjoyed them all! If I had to pick a favourite though, I’d have to say Scars Like Wings would just snatch the title from I Hold Your Heart (seriously though, someone else be angry with me!). 

What have you read recently?
Have you read any of these books?
Can you recommend me a book?

Talk to me! I wanna know what you think of my wrap ups: do you like them? Do you prefer my full reviews? Do you not care? (ha!)

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Susan Verde

I Am Love: a wonderful book exploring kindness, compassion and empathy

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“Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds continue their collaboration with the fourth book in their bestselling wellness series. A celebration of love in all its forms, I Am Love asks readers to look inward when they feel afraid. Love allows us to act with compassion and kindness, to live with gratitude, and to take care of ourselves by practicing self-love.”

I am a massive fan of using picture books in the classroom, regardless of the age of the children because I think picture books can be the key to opening children up to experiences they might not necessarily have. They can quickly grab a child’s attention and, in the space of only a few pages, teach children a whole range of things. 

One of the things that I think picture books do wonderfully is teach children the importance of empathy. It’s so important that we show children the importance of empathy and being able to use their emotions for good. So much goes on in the world today that we need to give our children the tools to show love, kindness, compassion. I am Love is a wonderful picture book that does just that. 

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It’s a very simple story about ways in which we can show people compassion and love, through very simple acts of kindness. With Peter H Reynolds’ striking illustrations and an incredibly powerful message about ways in which we can show love, this book captured my heart completely and utterly. 

This book would go PERFECTLY in a PSHE lesson about being kind and could work from EYFS all the way up. I’d love to get my children to make their own version of this thinking of ways in which we can show love and compassion to the people around us. 

I am a massive fan of the pairing of Susan Verde and Peter H Reynolds, who have combined forces to write a series of books like this. I would whole heartedly recommend these books.

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A massive thank you to Abrams and Chronicle for sending me a copy for review! You guys are the best! 

Have you read any of the books in this series?
What are your go-to books for teaching about empathy?
What would you like to see from this series next?

Share your thoughts with me in the comments or on twitter, I love this series so much, I’d love to talk about it!

S x 

BLOG TOUR: Bad Luck Lighthouse

Hello!

Today is an exciting day! Today I am hosting the lovely author of The Bad Luck Lighthouse, Nicki Thornton, as part of The Bad Luck Lighthouse blog tour! Nicki is here to talk to us all about where she writes and her writing process. I absolutely loved this blog post and am so lucky to get to host it! Massive thank you to Nicki!

Where I write

I admit I suffer badly from Writing Shed Envy.

All those shared pictures of beautiful inspirational places; seeing the small hut where Philip Pullman, Neil Gaiman or Roald Dahl have written their endlessly brilliant stories.

It’s easy to feel you are doing it wrong if you don’t have a special place to write.

My walk to work is not a few minutes’ stroll to the bottom of a beautiful garden. From a writing point of view, the most important bit of my very small and ugly garden is my attack hedge – a vastly overgrown thing that does get pruned quite viciously every time the writing is not going well.

I actually even suffer from desk envy. I write mostly on a laptop that moves with me like a little pet, generally to wherever is warmest in the house in winter (usually the top of the house, with views of clouds), or coolest in summer (in the kitchen, where I have views of birds).

My laptop started falling apart and very few of the keys retain visible letters. My other half told me it was a bit like watching the end of the Terminator where all that is left is an eye. So I did get a new one. But that has a few extremely annoying features, so I haven’t completely given up on the old and I’m still very fond of my battered laptop.

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But I am equally happy scribbling into a notepad. All I seem to really need is quite unbelievably regular cups of tea.

I think part of the trick with writing is just to find a way of working that suits you. And everyone you talk to will do it differently, so there isn’t really a right way. I interviewed Frank Cottrell Boyce once, and he likes to write perched halfway up the stairs, because his house was in a permanent state of chaos.

But I find it’s less about where I write and more about habit, because I think it’s something you get better at slowly and with lots of practice, like playing tennis, or the piano. Like any long-term creative task, progress is better judged in years.

So my habit is to write five hundred words, or edit five pages a day, five days a week. And that is pretty achievable. It suits me because I’ve always been able to fit it in between all my other commitments of work and family.

Although I think it’s also probably true that I am also hardly ever not writing. My mind just slides into making things up when I am unloading the dishwasher. I can’t seem to help that.

And as long as I manage to get some words on the page every day, at the end of a month, a year, it’s surprising how much you find yourself able to look back and think that, yes, you have done quite a lot.

THE BAD LUCK LIGHTHOUSE – sequel to Nicki’s bestselling debut THE LAST CHANCE HOTEL – is out now, priced £6.99. Connect with Nicki on Twitter: @nicki_thornton.

Massive thank you to the publishers Chicken House for inviting me to be part of the blog tour and to Nicki for taking the time to write this insightful blog post for me!

Remember to check out the rest of the blog tour – it promises to be full of fun! And follow Nicki on twitter!

Bad Luck Lighthouse blog tour banner

S x 

S4S – Summer TBR

Good afternoon everyone!

How are we all? What’s going on today? Today is the Wimbledon men’s final and I AM A BARREL OF NERVES. I want Roger to win so so very much. It is hurting me. Can you all say a little prayer for him to be victorious please?

Anyway, Roger aside, you are here for the trusty weekly #SixforSunday post. Today, we are talking:

Summer TBR

This is just a small selection of the books I’m hoping to get through in my glorious 6 weeks holidays. I imagine I will get through more than 6… but these are 6 that I am dying to get into!

Eliza and her Monsters – Francesca Zappia
Scars Like Wings – Erin Stewart
Lost Tide Warriors – Catherine Doyle
The Demon World – Sally Green

The Truth Pixie Goes to School – Matt Haig
Patina – Jason Reynolds

I am very lucky to have some of these already, but others I can’t wait to purchase! 

Remember to share your Summer TBR with me – I can’t wait to see what you all are planning on reading over the summer! Share your TBRs with me using #SixforSunday on twitter! I love seeing your posts!

See you next week for Seaside books

S x 

November wrap up!

It may be December 10th, but I still am yet to round up my (rather pitiful looking) November reads!

In November, I:

Only read 3 books!
Started a few books, but my brain wouldn’t let me read.
Suffered from some pretty bad SAD.
Was a bit poorly.
Slept a lot.
Started rehearsing for the Christmas play at school.
Experienced my worst reading block for a while.
Did some Christmas shopping!

My November in books is a pretty TINY pile comapred to some months… but hey, when you’re not in the mood, you’re not in the mood!

The books I managed to get through were:

2 YA books and 1 kids book. 

I was SO VERY FORTUNATE to be send a proof copy of Fierce Fragile Hearts and I consumed it in a matter of hours a few weekends ago. I’m currently still trying to process my thoughts on it, but I tell you this guys, you NEED to get on it. It’s out next year and I just think Sara Barnard has yet again written an absolute winner. She is 100% one of my faves.

I’ve written a review of The Boneless Mercies here and my review of Fortunately, The Milk is to come!

What about my book challenges?

#BritishBooksChallenge: 105/12 (maybe more!)
#52books2018: 92/52 (just kids books!)
Goodreads challenge: 152/52

Now, for all this month wasn’t a GREAT success reading wise, I am still streets ahead of my yearly goal… which pleases me to no end! I’m hoping to read 4 books in December, so that I’m on 156 books (300% of my original target). Bring on the Christmas holidays!

How is your yearly goal looking?
Are you looking forward to Christmas festivities too?
What’s on your Christmas to read pile?

Let me know in the comments!

S x