#FeminismFriday – #SundayYA

Hello!

We come again to another Friday in February, therefore another #FeminismFebruary post. Today, I’m talking about one of my favourite things (started by one of my favourite humans in the world) that twitter has ever introduced me to. Today’s post is dedicated to:

#SundayYA

For those of you who are unaware: #SundayYA happens from 6pm-7pm on a Sunday night and is a chance for bookish folk to talk about books. There’s always a theme, or a featured author. It’s ran and organised brilliantly by one of my best friends in the world, Rachel, (@_sectumsemprah on twitter) who makes the chats inclusive and interesting. So anyway… 

5 reasons why I love #SundayYA

  1. It’s created for me a real community 
    I’ve had the chance to reach so many incredible new bloggers and authors because of #SundayYA. It’s an incredible chance to talk to people I may never speak to at any other time. We are all just bookish folk who are there to talk about a specific book/fangirl over a particular author and it’s brilliant. 
  2. There’s an magnificent community of incredible women
    Now #SundayYA does not exclude the menfolk, in fact there are a few fellas who join in on Sundays, but there are so many incredible women who join in #SundayYA that it always makes me so happy. We’re women, supporting each other. There’s no competition, it’s all supportive – that’s the community #SundayYA has created. The people who join in with #SundayYA are such a varied group of brilliant women – women who teach, who work in publishing, booksellers, students. So many excellent women from so many walks of life. 
  3. The sheer amount of friendships I’ve built because of Sunday chats
    Some of my best friends in the whole world I have because of #SundayYA. I’ve made so many brilliant friendships, with people who I never would’ve met because of #SundayYA and I am so grateful. It’s so lovely when you see the same people popping up every week and there are real friendships, real conversations happening. Lots of conversations happen outside of #SundayYA too!
  4. The amount of authors and books I’ve been introduced to…
    OK so this one isn’t great for my bank balance BUT it is GREAT for my life. The sheer amount of recommendations I leave EVERY Sunday with is ridiculous. The incredible authors I have been introduced to because of chats with them, or chats where people have recommended them, is incredible. It’s a community of people reading and recommending books to each other. There’s always someone who can recommend a similar author, or a complementary book. We’re like a community of booksellers, who just read. 
  5. Rachel. The lady herself.
    So Rachel, #SundayYA‘s creator, is one of the most amazing people I know. She’s funny, generous, brilliant and one of the best people in my life. She loves #SundayYA and her dedication to it makes me so happy. I could talk about how much I love her for hours, and am happy to if someone wants to listen. If you’re not already following her, you should be. She’s smart, funny and creative. 

Now for a special feature… I asked some of my fellow #SundayYA ladies to help me with this post and here’s why they love #SundayYA:

Kelly, @kellysrambles
“To me, #SundayYA means friendship. It means discovering like minded souls and bookish best friends. It has helped me to carve my own little corner in the UKYA bookish community in Twitter where I am lucky to be surrounded by some of the most amazing people. Little did I know when I first took part in a #SundayYA readathon that I would end up with 5 of the best friends a girl could wish for and I am so grateful to Rachel for making that happen. Whether it’s bookish fangirling or life advice, #SundayYA has give me more than I ever thought it would: true friendship.” 

Cora, @Corazzz
#SundayYA is more than just a chat to me. It’s a safe little corner in the community where I know everyone is kind and considerate. Rachel does the most amazing job and puts so much work into each chat. So much thought goes into each theme, each question asked to authors or the community. I love being a part of something, somewhere my voice can be heard and I can speak to people with the same passion, make new friends, be a part of something. Taking part brings me joy and makes me genuinely happy, it’s part of my self care routine, #SundayYA and a cup of tea.”

Rosie, @rosiefreckle
“I love #SundayYA because it feels like me and all my bookish buddies are all meeting in a coffee shop and chatting books. It made me feel more involved in the community and it makes Sunday evenings infinitely better.”

Aoife, @PrettyPPD
“I spend the whole week looking forward to #SundayYA. Not only has it intorduced me to some amazing books I’d never have picked up otherwise, the people who always turn up too are so warm and friendly. It’s my favourite book community.”

Jess, @JessikahHope
“#SundayYA is full of wonderful, friendly people who make you feel less alone when you’re completely fangirling over your new favourite book!”

Amy, @YAundermyskin
“I love #SundayYA because it’s a welcoming community of people who love books as much as I do.”

Donna, @donnamk79
“I love #SundayYA because it lets me chat about books I love with other members of the community – and it really does make us a community.”

S xx

BOOKBLOG: Lauren James

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe: a gripping, unique heart-racer

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“Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away? 
Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J. Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love. But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean? Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone . . .”

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe (I’m going to call it Loneliest Girl in this blog, because well it’s a LONG title!) tells the story of Romy, who is the captain of a ship on its way to a new planet, with hopes to make it hospitable. She’s all alone on this rocket, with only audio/email messages coming from her therapist Molly. Something changes and suddenly there’s a mysterious stranger on the scene. This stranger is J, the captain of another ship, and Romy quickly finds herself falling for this mysterious stranger. When things start becoming a bit suspect, Romy discovers that J isn’t quite who he says he is…

I had seen SO MUCH about this book on twitter! Everyone was talking about it. I was SO ENVIOUS of all of the people who had advance copies. I needed to get my hands on it. I was elated when I heard they would be selling them at YALC. When it came to YALC, Kelly and I rushed to buy a copy (because we were afraid they’d run out of copies!) just to be sure we would get one. It has sat on my shelf since YALC but I was determined to read it before we did a SundayYA chat about it. AND READ IT BEFORE SUNDAYYA I DID. It took me all of about 4 hours to read. It is THAT GOOD. It’s so readable. Gripping. The kind of book that takes you by surprise (it certainly took me by surprise!) 

This book is very character centric and luckily for me, I loved the characters. Romy (the main character) and her story were very well written. The flashbacks of her memories growing up, her memories of the rocket were gorgeous to see. Her parents are very important to herboth in very different ways – I loved her relationship with her dad. Her relationship with her mam kept me very curious. The other character in the space world in Loneliest Girl is J: mysterious, handsome, seemingly perfect. Romy definitely falls for him fast. Her trust of him pulled the wool over my eyes. I didn’t like him from the start… there was something about him I didn’t trust. He was too convenient. He was the perfect, most sinister, creepy baddie though. He adds a brilliantly sinister dynamic to this book. Definitely kept me on my toes. 

I would recommend this book to EVERYONE. It is one of those that would appeal to SO MANY PEOPLE. It’s so clever and devious and delicious. I’m curious about the rest of the author’s work now… if they’re all this good I need to get them NOW (well, when September is over cause y’know book buying ban and all that!)

Have you read Loneliest Girl?
What did you make of J?
Do you think you’d cope with Romy’s life?

Let me know in the comments or on twitter! I’d love to talk about this book! 

S xx

S4S – Recommended books

Morning! SUNDAY AGAIN? Where did last week go? How was your week? 

What has everyone been reading this week?

This week’s#SixforSundayis:

Books people keep recommending to me

  1. Gilded Cage (Liv is responsible for this recommendation)
  2. Department 19 (Zoe, you are the reson behind this… but also After The Fire was exceptional)
  3. Anything written by Leigh Bardugo (Wonderful Kelly is responsible for this… I know. I will get on it)
  4. Station Eleven (one of my favourites, Sara Barnard, raves about this! I have it on my shelf!)
  5. Kevin Brooks (My friends Rachel, Aoife and Cora all rave about him… I will read them one day)
  6. The Hate U Give (everyone… basically everyone recommends this. It’ll happen one day soon!)

So there you have my#SixforSunday this week! 

Have you read any of these?
Can you recommend me a book? 
What books do people keep recommending to you?

Let me know if you post a#SixforSunday! Use the hashtag and link me to your post! I would love to see what books people keep recommending… not that I need more books recommended! My TBR is a monster!

S x

#SundayYAthon TBR

Bank Holiday Monday is a perfect time to start a readathon! Luckily the wonderful Rachel (the #SundayYA boss lady) has started a brilliant Sunday YA readathon and I am excited about it! 

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She created this incredible bingo board style mission! I’m going across the middle! There’s so many ways I could’ve gone! I have about 600 books on my TBR (ha, this is a slight exaggeration… but I do have SO MANY BOOKS to read. I sorted them out in some fashion today and I had to NOT count them because I would’ve been a bit overwhelmed! Might do a book buying ban in September… get some of my books read! Anyway…)

WHICH BOOKS ARE YOU CHOOSING STEPH? WHICH BOOKS? WHICH BOOKS? TELL US! SHOW US! WE WANT TO SEE. 

I know. I can hear you chanting it now. 

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For SundayYA author I chose Indigo Donut by Patrice Lawrence.

My Free Choice book is Letters from the Lighthouse by Emma Carroll (I had to get some MG reading in there!)

The UKYA author I chose was Mind The Gap by Phil Earle (the lovely people at Barrington Stoke sent me this last week and I’ve carried it round ever since, I love the sound of it. I heard him at YALC talk about it and it’s going to break my heart).

I also have Wonder Woman to finish too… let’s hope I can manage it all!

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Are you joining in #SundayYAthon this summer?
What’s on your TBR list?
Do you like doing readathons?

It’s not too late to join in! Just follow the hashtag and show us your TBR. See you there!

S x

Mental Health in YA

Hello Wednesday folks! Sorry this is late, I have had a mega stressful week, however you are in for a treat with this guest blog this week. My gorgeous friend Rachel, over-lady of #SundayYA, #SundayYAthon and 100-or-less has popped along to talk about YA books which discuss one of the most important things to a person – their mental health. It’s Mental Health Awareness Week next week so it was only natural that this fit in perfectly here!!

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Mental Health in YA: Some recommendations

For those of you that don’t know, next week (8th to 14th May) is the Mental Health Awareness Week. Over at #SundayYA I will be hosting a chat on mental health YA with some lovely guest authors, but today I want to share with you some of my favourite YA that talk about and raise awareness of mental health issues.

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia follows the story of Alex, a girl diagnosed with schizophrenia, as she tries to figure out the world with her Magic 8-Ball and her trusty camera. She thinks she has it all sorted out but then she meets Miles, and Alex begins to question her reality. As the title suggests, the story is told from first person so it’s pretty hard to tell what is real and what is due to Alex schizophrenia, but all this makes Made You Up a wonderful insight into what it is like to live with psychosis, and how those with a diagnosis can learn to live with it.

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An older YA that deals with mental health, and one that often gets overlooked, is My Heart And Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga. Aysel wants to commit suicide and, in her search for a Suicide Partner, meets Roman. They plot their death together but, in doing so, Aysel realises she has a lot more reasons to live. I thought this would be a very difficult read and at times I was ready to give up on it, but it turned out to be a beautifully hopeful story of rediscovery that I fell in love with.

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A book I have recently read that talking about mental health is Countless by Karen Gregory. Hedda has anorexia (which she refers to throughout her story as a person called Nia), but when she discovers she is pregnant she calls a truce with her eating disorder. As she goes through the pregnancy she learns that some choices are harder than others, and not everything in life can be counted. Countless is a particularly harrowing read, but one that I couldn’t put down. What struck me about this book was that, despite dealing with eating disorders, not once is a number mentioned. I found this to be rather important, as it demonstrates that it is possible to tell a story about mental health that can be realistic without being potentially triggering.

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I couldn’t talk about mental health in YA without mentioning Under Rose-Tainted Skies, an Own Voices novel by Louise Gornall. Norah has agoraphobia and OCD and has accepted that the four walls of her house will be where she spends her life. That is, until Luke turns up on her door and changes everything. He’s patient and understanding, and sees Norah for who she really is. Under Rose-Tainted Skies is a truly wonderful read, and one that shows that sometimes, it’s okay to take risks.

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On the topic of OCD, another YA I have loved, and the only one so far I have re-read, is Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne. Evie has OCD and believes she is coping with it, but as she starts college and makes new friends she soon begins to spiral out of control. Although Am I Normal Yet? deals with some pretty tough themes, it manages to be light hearted and funny throughout, which made this story really stand out to me and will see me go back to it many times in the future.

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There are a lot of YA books about anxiety, but recently I really enjoyed reading A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard. Steffi is a selective mute and struggles to communicate to people outside of her immediate family. Her headteacher introduces her to Rhys, who is deaf, and with her limited understanding of British Sign Language she builds a friendship she can truly be a part of. A Quiet Kind of Thunder really captures what it is to have anxiety, and is written in such a way that, by the time I read the last page, I felt like I was parting ways with a friend.

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Mental health comes in many forms, and a YA read that particularly stands out when I think of neurodiversity is The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas. The State of Grace follows Grace, a narrator with Asperger’s, as she comes to term with a lot of changes in her life whilst trying to fit in with her friends. I found the State of Grace to be not just enjoyable but fascinating to read and, as someone who works with students on the ASD spectrum, a real insight into what it is like to be on the spectrum. I learnt a lot from reading it, and will carry this story with me for a long time to come.

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Of course, there are a lot of amazing YA books out there that talk about mental health, but these are the ones that have particularly stood out for me. Happy reading!

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Thank you so much to Rachel for writing this incredible insightful blog all about different YA books which deal with mental health, in all its variations. 

Rachel’s links (you should follow her, she’s incredible!)

Remember to join in #SundayYA chats on Sundays between 6 and 7 pm!

I have read and reviewed some of these books and the ones which I have not I will be buying AS SOON AS my May book ban is over (you can read all about that here: You MAY not buy any books)

Reviews:

Review of Countless to come, I just recently finished it and my word. I loved every second of it. It absolutely killed me. 

Have you read any of these books?
Which other YA books would you recommend for Mental Health Awareness Week?

S x

April Books

It’s that time again, April has come and gone! This year is flying by! We’re in the final term… (as a teacher, I count my life in terms ha! This means I have only 1 term until I start training… this makes me wanna vomit. We will get to that in a future blog post!) We have another round up and an update on my 2017 challenge!

April was a BUSY book month! 

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This was part of my TBR:

Also added to this list:SOGI

There was a wonderful mix of some MG books and a lot of YA books and some non-fiction in there too! If there isn’t a review currently up for the book there will be one coming up in the coming weeks! I also read some picture books this week, but I (controversially) don’t count them towards my book count of the year! This stack ended up lookin so healthy because of SundayYAthon @ Easter which I managed to devour about 5 books, alongside 2 train journeys to London to meet my lovely friend Kelly! Find out about my SundayYAthon reads here: SundayYAthon at Easter!

Shout out to Grandad’s Secret Giant by David Litchfield though… incredible picture book! (BOOKBLOG: David LitchfieldIMG_4370

This year I pledged to read 52 books. I committed myself to that on Goodreads and so I have to do it. I refuse to fail now! That’s 4 a month, that’s good going! So far I have read:

25/52 books

Apparently, that’s 9 ahead of schedule! I started Countless this morning and I’d like to get that finished today, which would mean I’m HALF WAY through my challenge and it’s only been 4 months. That would be something else!

What did I buy/acquire?

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  • Mad Girl – Bryony Gordon
  • The Stars at Oktober Bend – Glenda Millard
  • Chasing the Stars – Malorie Blackman
  • Anna and the Swallow Man – Gavriel Savit 
  • Radio Silence – Alice Oseman (my gorgeous Rachel sent me this!)
  • Super Awkward – Beth Garrod
  • Wintersong – S. Jae Jones (my lovely friend Kelly sent me this!)
  • The Fallen Children – David Owen
  • I Have No Secrets – Penny Joelson

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  • Doing It – Hannah Witton
  • The Cows – Dawn O’Porter
  • Happy Mum, Happy Baby – Giovanna Fletcher (my lush cousin Kate sent this to me to borrow. I’m not a mam but I love Gi and Tom)
  • The Adventures of Owl and the Pussycat (keep your eyes peeled this coming Sunday! I’m involved in the blog tour for this!)
  • Grandad’s Secret Giant – David Litchfield (I have read this, so it should be in my other pile but I did acquire it this month, the lovely publishers sent me a copy and I am so gratefuk… see my review here: BOOKBLOG: David Litchfield)
  • The Covers of this Book are Too Far Apart – Vivian French and Nigel Baines. 
  • Beards from Outer Space – Gareth P Jones (the amazing publishers sent me this this month too! It’s currently in school!)
  • Alex Sparrow and the Really Big Stink – Jennifer Killick (I am very lucky that the author sent me this! Taking it into school telling the kids it came from the author made it so special!)

Wow. I acquired a lot of books this month. Sorry bank balance.

So that’s it for April. It’s been a joy reading this month. I read some absolutely incredible books and I am looking forward to seeing what May has in store for me! More tears, laughter and incredible books I am sure of it!

What did you read in April?
Have you read any of the books on my list?
What was your favourite book of the month?
How are you doing with your challenge?

I’d love to hear from you all! Leave me a comment or speak to me on twitter (@eenalol) I’m always open to talk! 

S x

BOOKBLOG: Patrice Lawrence

Orangeboy: tense, tough and powerful.

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I have had Orangeboy on my watchlist (books that I want that I’ve not read) since UKYACX last year. I didn’t get round to buying it last year, but it was always in the back of my mind to read it and when Rachel announced that there was going to be a SundayYA chat about social class and that book was the focus I knew I had to read it. I like to be in the know, having read the books before we talk about them. I was tentative to pick it up, having bought it back in February. It just intimidated me, it’s pretty thick and it’s about some pretty DEEP issues. When I picked it up, I knew I had to be ready to read about these issues. 

Sixteen-year-old Marlon has promised his widowed mum that he’ll be good, and nothing like his gang-leader brother Andre. It’s easy when you keep yourself to yourself, listening to your dead dad’s Earth, Wind and Fire albums and watching sci-fi. But everything changes when Marlon’s first date with the beautiful Sonya ends in tragedy; he becomes a hunted man and he has no idea why. With his dad dead and his brother helpless, Marlon has little choice but to enter Andre’s old world of guns, knives and drug runs in order to uncover the truth and protect those close to him. It’s time to fight to be the last man standing.”

Orangeboy is about Marlon, a young boy from London who ends up getting into the worst kind of trouble: gangs, drugs, death and revenge… he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I liked Marlon. Initially I really liked him, but as the story went on he morphed and changed into a character who I didn’t like as much. I didn’t dislike him though. He changed but his essence remained. He loves his family, his brother and his mam are his concern. He’s stubborn and proud. His best friend Tish sees through him. She’s always there, looking out for him even when he’s being blind to the bad that he is heading into. She infuriated me at times, but like all good best friends she’s there for him. 

I really struggled with this book to start with. All the talk of drugs really bothered me. I texted a few friends asking whether I should persevere and I got a resounding yes from all of them. As I read however, the plot thickens, the characters get more complex, the issues become more real. I wanted to know what was going to happen. I wanted to know about Marlon’s relationship with his brother. I wanted to know whether he becomes the Marlon at the start of the book or not. And I am so glad I stuck with it. 

It’s a tough, hard-hitting book that I think everyone should read. It deals with real issues. It’s not an easy read. But it’s a necessary read. Plus the incredible infusion of music made it all the better. 

Have you guys read Orangeboy?
What did you think?
Did you like Marlon? Or did you find him hard to like?

Let me know on Twitter (@eenalol) or in the comments!

S x

SundayYAthon at Easter!

This Easter weekend was my 2nd (maybe 3rd?) time of joining in a SundayYAthon and I loved it!

For those of you who don’t know, #SundayYA is a chat that happens every Sunday between 6 and 7pm and I love it. We’ve had all sorts of chats over the past few weeks and it’s ran by my gorgeous friend Rachel (who blogs at 100 or less and tweets at @_sectumsemprah). SundayYAthon is a chance for anyone to sign up and do a mega readathon for a certain amount of days; this was was Thursday to Easter Monday. Generally there’s a pledge to read a certain books but this time round it was just read as many as you could! #SundayYA and the YAthons are always open to everyone so keep an eye on twitter for the next one and come along to #SundayYA on Sunday, 6-7… be there or be square.

So what did you read? I hear you say… well let me get to it!!

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There you have it! My visual READ pile over the weekend. I was pretty chuffed with the books I managed to read, there are reviews for all of them coming up but I thought I would share a snippet of each review in this post!

Orangeboy: Patrice Lawrence – hard hitting, tense and tough. I really enjoyed Orangeboy as much as someone reading a book so tense humanly can do. It’s all about what can happen if you get caught up with the wrong people. Wrong person, wrong time. Poor Marlon. 

Winterkill: Kate A Boorman – you’ll find my review already up on the blog! Head over to BOOKBLOG: KATE A BOORMAN to check it out. It’s certainly a great little read, I am looking forward to the second two!

Unconventional:Maggie Harcourt – Maggie was a guest at #SundayYA a while back and I hadn’t got round to reading Unconventional by then but as the chat went on I knew I had to read it. My lovely book fairy sent it to me and I am so glad. It’s a lovely story. I smiled the whole way through. I can’t wait for you to see my full review. I really enjoyed this!

The Names They Gave Us: Emery Lord – (released July) I was sent this by the lovely people at Bloomsbury and I absolutely adored it. It broke my heart. I completely adore the characters, the story is incredible, the writing style is just brilliant. Review to come in the next few weeks! 

So that’s my wrap up! I absolutely loved all of the books I read. I was so impressed I read so many too… I didn’t expect to read so many! (Technically only had HALF of Orangeboy to read, but shhhh, don’t tell anyone!!)

Now to share some of the other SundayYAthon’ers wrap up posts!

  • Cora read some wonderful books, her first was the book that I’m currently reading!
  • Jess  had a wonderful pile and got through a lot of books!
  • Sarah managed to get through 1600 pages! Check out the books she read!

Absolutely loved sharing the bookish joy with the girls in the group too! We had a twitter DM group going and it was great to keep motivations going!

Thank you Rach for such a wonderful reading experience! And for helping my TBR pile!

Have you ever joined in a readathon?
Do you enjoy them?
Would you be interested in joining in #SundayYA? I’d love to see you!

S x

BOOKBLOG: KATE A BOORMAN

Winterkill: seductive, nervy and enthralling.IMG_4357

Friday saw the start of the #SundayYAthon… where we have to read as many books as we can in a weekend! I was travelling to London to meet a pocket friend of mine (see: amazing online friend) and was reading Orangeboy on the way down (as book 1 of #SundayYAthon) but finished it by the time I got to London so naturally I needed to buy a new book. When we were in Waterstones Piccadilly I was picking up books, obv this is me, and needed another book to read and had already picked up a book for BOGOHP so needed another! I couldn’t find one but having scoured I came across this one. It was the blurb that sold me.

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“Where Emmeline lives, you cannot love and you cannot leave
The Council’s rules are strict, but they’re for the good of the settlement in which Emmeline lives. Everyone knows there is nothing but danger the other side of the Wall, and the community must prepare for the freezing winterkill that comes every year. But Emmeline struggles to be obedient under the Council’s suffocating embrace – especially when she discovers that a Council leader intends to snatch her hand in marriage. Then Emmeline begins to hear the call of the trees beyond the Wall”

I was initially intrigued by the settlement aspect of this book, that this girl lived in a settlement and was very segregated from the rest of the world – this kind of thing really appeals to me, not sure why! That was the thing that drew me to it. The disobedience of teenagedom. The Council, who I guessed were in charge. The council leader who wanted to marry her. I wanted to know more and I am so glad I picked it up because I was NOT disappointed.

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This book tells the tale of Emmeline (Em for short) and her life in the settlement. What she does, how she exists, what her life is like there. She’s different from the rest of her townsfolk though. She’s ‘Wayward’ – she breaks the rules, she questions the Council, she doesn’t follow their every saying. The people of the settlement are led to believe in the 3 virtues: Honesty, Courage and Discovery. The people have to do things which abide by these virtues, otherwise their actions are seen as ‘Wayward’ and are punished. Generally punished with doing the “Watch”. Obviously Em is a rule breaker, she makes mistakes and ends up being on “Watch” – she has to watch over the outskirts of the fortification and make sure the “malmaci” (the bad people) aren’t coming after her town. The story goes on from there and there are twists and turns aplenty. More people who seem to be following the way of the Council but who in their own ways aren’t. They don’t follow. They are Wayward but know how to get away with it. I loved the idea of this. The writing was brilliant too. I devoured it in about a day. The plot was so brilliant weaved, with some interesting turns and holes that I didn’t see coming but that when it got to the end I was like “WELL OBVIOUSLY”. Brilliance I say.

The characters of this book were the things I feel most in love with. Em, the main character, is a girl who is curious, she’s interested in knowing more, she wants to know more. She’s “Stained” because of something her grandmother allegedly did years before and she is defined in some ways by her stain – she thinks that’s all people see of her and in some respects, to some of the people in the settlement it is. Alongside Em you meet her lovely best friend Tom. He’s her calm, he is very much a rule abider, he doesn’t like that Em is so willing to be Wayward, to act in such meaningless ways. He likes to stay on the right side of the law. But he very much respects and sees Em for who she is, his best friend. He does things throughout the book that surprised me, but that made me like him even more. In contrast to Tom we meet Kane. Bold, shaved head, strong, works in the kitchens Kane. He’s a thinker, like Em. He’s not afraid to bend rules. There’s a spark between him and Em. Tom and Kane are like chalk and cheese but both have Em as their main thought. I liked Kane. I trusted him instantly. In this book trust is an important thing and he was definitely one I trusted straight away… not like Brother Stockham. I was NOT a fan. He’s smarmy, creepy and just a bit obscure. He grew on me at one point, I thought he was something that he really isn’t. There’s something misunderstood about him, there’s something redeeming to him but he’s not one I knew I liked, nor trusted. He’s a Council leader and I just didn’t like him. He has ulterior motives. There’s also Brother Jameson who I strongly disliked. He’s a man after power. There’s some brilliant characters like Andre, who had my heart. I loved him. He’s definitely one that I knew Em could trust for there aren’t many!

I loved the random interjections of French in this book too. They came very unexpectedly to but I ended up grasping and gripped and wanting more French. As a languages teacher it was lovely to see a language in a book! It kept my brain ticking over.

I can’t wait to read the next 2 now! I’ll definitely be getting them and reading them in the next few weeks!

Have you guys read this?
What do you think?
Have you any recommendations of books like this?
Cult/settlements with rebellious teens. I love them!

Let me know in the comments below or on twitter (@eenalol) I always want book recommendations!!

S x

BOOKBLOG: Juno Dawson

Margot and Me: heartbreaking, soul filled and beautiful.

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The first I heard of Juno Dawson was when I read the Crisis ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’ short story anthology and I absolutely loved her short story about a Geordie boy (see my review here: BOOKBLOG: Tom Becker) and as soon as I heard there was a new book coming up I KNEW I had to read it! A few of my friends and I agreed to read it at the same time and we all started it on the same day… I am so glad we all started it together, despite the fact I was one of the last to finish it! I love my online group of bookworms, they’re my favourite people.

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“Fliss’s mum needs peace and quiet to recuperate from a long illness, so they both move to the countryside to live with Margot, Fliss’s stern and bullying grandmother. Life on the farm is tough and life at school is even tougher, so when Fliss unearths Margot’s wartime diary, she sees an opportunity to get her own back.

But Fliss soon discovers Margot’s life during the evacuation was full of adventure, mystery… and even passion. What’s more, she learns a terrible secret that could tear her whole family apart…”

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I picked this book up with very little knowledge of what it was about and I’m pretty glad I didn’t know! It was an absolute revelation to read it totally blind, to discover the characters and the story without any previous knowledge. I had read the blurb, but it had fallen out of my head. 

The story starts out with an introduction to Felicity, who is being made to move away from her life in London to a secluded farm in Wales run by her grandmother. Initially Fliss hates her life in Wales: the girls are horrible, she can’t do anything right, her grandmother isn’t your typical grandmother, she hates the farm and then eventually things start to turn. Fliss discovers her grandmother’s diary from when she was evacuated to Wales. 

For me, Fliss was quite a hard character to like at first… I don’t know what it was, she just didn’t sit well with me, but as you go through the book (as my friend Aoife said) “she’s a grower”. She will grow on you, she grew on me. Her grandmother was the biggest surprise to me. I found her hard, cold and abrupt initally but once you learn her story you’ll find that she is like an onion, there are so many layers to her. Her diary extracts became the thing that I was reading on for. I absolutely loved learning about her life through the diary extracts. You’ll meet so many incredible characters through the diary extracts – my favourites including Ivor, the gentle giant – and eventually it is the diary that saves Fliss and her grandmother’s relationship. 

This story blew me away. I wasn’t expecting it to. But it made my heart so so so happy. I cried an awful lot. The ending broke me. I had grown so attached to these characters – both in the now and the characters of Grandma’s 1940s life – that I wasn’t ready to let them go. The amazing thing about this story is that it came out of nowhere. The relationships between the characters are so complex yet so brilliantly sculpted. The story is beautifully weaved and deals with some incredibly hard hitting subjects: death, bullying, evacuation, war, sexuality, racism, grief, love, heartbreak and pregnancy. (It’s scary to read this book and realise that during the 40s there probably were people who thought the way that people thought in Margot’s diaries.)

I implore you all to read this. It’s incredible.
If you don’t believe me check out my friend’s review: Kelly’s Ramblings: Margot and Me

S x