BOOK BLOG: Lisa Williamson

Paper Avalanche: an absolute punch in the feels

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“When it comes to flying under the radar, Ro Snow is an expert.
No friends. 
No boys.
No parties.
And strictly NO VISITORS.
It may be lonely, but at least this way the truth remains where it should – hidden. Then Tanvi Shah, the girl who almost died, comes tumbling back into her life, and Ro finds herself losing control of her carefully constructed lies. But if Ro’s walls come crumbling down, who’s going to take care of Bonnie…”

A massive thank you to my lovely friend Adele for buying this book for me to cheer me up recently. 

Paper Avalanche follows the story of Ro Snow, a young girl who is having to battle between the world of being a teenager, trying to disappear and her mum’s hoarding. She’s a girl who very much wants to just go under the radar. Everyone knows about the house, which Ro never admits that she lives in, and it is a constant battle in Ro’s life. She knows that if anything were to happen, her mum’s hoarding tendencies could spiral out of control. Ro feels like she’s barely keeping a lid on everything, when suddenly there’s a young man thrown into her life and a best friend who is in her very own way a total whirlwind – one that could potentially make Ro’s world topple down. 

I ABSOLUTELY loved Tanvi and Noah. They brought such an incredible thread into Ro’s life that she had never had before. There’s such a gorgeous flip from how lonely and colourless Ro’s life is before these two show up. Tanvi, the best friend who appears suddenly having been out of school for a few years, brings colour and joy and noise to Ro’s life, a life that she’s tried to live so quietly before. There’s an incredible scene set on Diwali that brought my heart such joy. It was one of those scenes in a story that I’ll remember for a long time. 

One of the things that I loved about this book was how relatable it is. We don’t all have mothers who are hoarders, but we all have something we want to hide from the world. It may be the smallest thing, or the biggest thing, but Ro’s struggles to hide her things from the world is something that we have ALL done. We’ve all been there. Ro struggles a lot with worrying about what people think about her (dear God, I relate) and battles to keep a lid on her emotions at times. She’s a very closed off young woman, who definitely has a lot of anger under the surface. There’s a scene toward the end where she lets this anger out and I was like YES RO. YOU GET THEM TOLD. She has an incredibly complicated relationship with her mum (who she calls Bonnie the majority of the time) and her dad. She feels like she’s the adult in the relationship with her mum, and feels like the forgotten child with her dad. (I’m not a fan of Dad’s new wife FYI). She’s constantly battling with wanting attention from her Dad, while wanting the rest of the world to not see her. 

I loved the exploration of doing things for yourself in this book. Ro discvovers something that she’s really good at and that she wants to pursue. It was lovely to see Ro trying to make her mark, all the while trying not to stand out. (Shout out to Tanvi and Mr Milburn for helping her out! I love reading a supportive teacher role… please can we have more of these in YA) She ends up doing something that makes her happy, but Bonnie turns it into a disaster. My heart BROKE for Ro when I was reading this. I hated Bonnie so much. 

Reading this book made me feel ALL OF THE EMOTIONS. There was joy, sadness, shock, worry, panic, love, laughter, disappointment. You’ll feel ALL of the things. It’s SO WORTH IT. 

Another shout out here to Tanvi’s family. They’re bloody brilliant. So welcoming.  

I’d REALLY love to see this story made into a film. I think it would be BLOODY brilliant. 

My goodreads review:

I am so full of love right now. I’ve gone through them all: anger, sadness, panic, anxiety, love, laughter. This book and its characters are just exceptional. I love the way in which Ro and Bonnie have to deal with this massive problem: their roles reversed, while Ro still has to deal with being a kid. Massive shout outs to Tanvi, Mr Milburn and Noah. Excellent excellent book.

HELLO ALSO. That cover. I ENJOY THAT PINK SO MUCH. Underneath the jacket, it’s just white with pink metallic lettering on the spine and it’s just such a beauty.

Have you read Paper Avalanche?
Do you also love Lisa Williamson?
Have you read anything else by Lisa Williamson?

Talk to me! I am so glad I read this book… in like 3 hours. It was a one sitting book, that’s how good it is! 

S x 

BLOG TOUR: Slay On Tour

Today’s post is coming to you from the boyband tour bus in Japan as part of the Slay blog tour. If you don’t know the world of Slay yet, then you are 100% missing out. Check out my review of the first book in this series here!

Slay on Tour: slaying in all the VERY BEST ways!

“SLAY are BACK…and this time they’re headed to Tokyo to track down another hell-raising demon. When they’re invited on tour with a super-cool band of holographic girls, SLAY find themselves whisked off around Japan – until strange things start happening on their tour train. Suddenly it seems it’s not just SLAY’s fans following their every move…”

Slay on Tour sees the boys of Slay (a demon fighting boy band, obviously) fighting demons in Japan! Having read the first book and LOVING IT, I needed this second book in my life so much. This series is SUCH fun and it’s so incredible to read a book with such personality. The characters, the settings, the friendship and the family explored in these books makes me so happy. 29 year old me loves these books and I know that 15 year old me would have too: boybands and demon fighting… what more do we need?

Slay on Tour sees the boys in Japan, having been given the opportunity to tour alongside a new and incredibly revolutionary Japanese band. I always knew there was something up with the band and their people – a band of holographic girls who are “perfect”. Yeah, cause that’s normal… but I loved it. There was a bit of the feminist in me going “WE DON’T NEED TO BE PERFECT TO DESERVE TO BE IN A BAND”. 

Obviously, in the midst of all of this touring, the boys are still fighting demons. The demon slayers (I bloody love how descriptive the word slayers is!) have to fight some pretty dark and deceptive demons in this second installment. A demon who steals souls? Yeah. No thanks actually! There’s even the reappearance of an old “friend”. 

A massive shout out to the folklore in this book too. I loved the little nuggets of Japanese folklore information thrown in. (You all know I’m a PROPER sucker for a bit of a mythological story, so this made my heart sing!) Learning about other cultures and the stories from them is just mint – so to see this thrown into the book was another massive tick!

You get the fun of the demon fighting as well as those brilliant characters who we met and loved in book 1. The boys are just lush. I like each of them for very different reasons. I’d love them to be a real band, so I could join them (I don’t know that I’d be a great demon fighter like!) Not only that, but there is a lovely exploration of something which happens in book 1. This something (I don’t wanna share too much cause spoilers!) happens to have a massive impact on the dynamic of the band, with ever trusty Milly having to come to the rescue. I really love Milly. She’s sassy, brave and bold: she has to be. She’s thrust into this life of being in one of the biggest boybands in the world. And because she’s a badass, she takes it ALL in her stride. 

I loved this book. I may have even loved it more than book 1! I know, I know. I have my fingers crossed that there MAY be a third book. PLEASE. 

I even have an incredible exclusive quote from the brilliant Kim herself on why boy bands, fandoms and blurred lines! It sums up the Slay books so brilliantly!

“When I was growing up in the 90s, I had properly drunk the patriarchal kool aid. Without knowing why exactly, I put all things ‘girlie’ into a mental box labelled shameful. It’s internalised the misogyny that placed things that boys love above stuff that girls love. And, to my great sadness, that included boy bands. I was into Star Wars and The Teenage Ninja Turtles, X-Men comic books and Grunge rock music – all the geeky-cool stuff that defined a lot of ‘boy culture’. But, as I got older and began to examine my choices, I discovered there was a world of amazing ‘girl culture’ I’d been missing out on. As an adult, I loved it all. Twilight, Sailor Moon, High School Musical. And yes, One Direction! Now, I’m on a mission to see that all the things that teen girls love are given the same respect and the same value as the stuff boys love. And that when it comes to entertainment, gender should play no part in it. When writing Slay and Slay on Tour I consciously blurred all the lines between ‘girl’ stuff and ‘boy’ stuff to create something that’s just fun – which transcended gender.”

So please! Go out and buy these books if you’re looking for something EXCELLENT, FUN and PROPER GREAT. 

Have you read Slay?
Would you make it as a demon fighter?
Do you think I’d make it as a demon slayer?

Check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour… it was a proper honour to kick it off! Thanks so much to the brilliant humans of Usborne for asking me to kick off the tour! 

slay on tour blog tour

Let’s get talking about #SlayonTour on twitter! These books deserve so much love! 

S x 

 

Best of 2018: YA edition

It’s time! It is the end of 2018 and here comes my “best of the year” series!

For books to be considered in the “best of 2018” series, I had to have read them in 2018. So this discounts some of my favourite 2018 releases…

Today’s best of series takes on:

2018 best ya header

Hello, my name is Steph and I love YA books. I am VERY sad because due to my own rules there are a few books which SHOULD be on this list but can’t be. Let’s just take a moment to appreciate State of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury, The Exact of Opposite by Laura Steven and Goodbye Perfect by Sara Barnard. These books WERE released in 2018, but I read them in 2017 so could not be considered for the list. Sad sad times. BUT BLOODY BRILLIANT BOOKS.

Anyway… let’s get on with the list!

2018 best ya(there’s a lot of orangey red tones on this list!)

Fierce Fragile Hearts: Sara Barnard

Oh Sara. This follow up to Beautiful Broken Things turned me into a broken thing with a fragile heart. I loved everything about this book and I am yet to put my throughts into a cohesive bunch to write a review. Watch out for this in 2019 please kids.

Scythe: Neal Shusterman

GUYS. GUYS. THIS BOOK. I BLOODY loved this book. It had EVERYTHING I wanted in it. It was menacing, brilliant and clever. Just exceptional.

More Happy Than Not: Adam Silvera

THIS BROKE MY HEART. I loved little Aaron and have been in his shoes. Every now and again, I remember this book and it makes me SO SAD. But it’s SO worth a read. Go on.

Show Stopper: Hayley Barker

So it seems 2018 was the year I loved circus books. Show Stopper (and its sequel Show Stealer) was just EVERYTHING. There was danger, a horrible horrible villain and a brilliant cast of characters on the side of good. I devoured this duology in no time and would recommend you all do it too!

Floored: the Floored 7

Of course this book was going to make my list. I BLOODY LOVED IT. Such a clever idea. Such a brilliant story. I can’t wait to reread this book some time. If you wanna read a book by some of the most talented humans in the world, get your hands on this.

Six of Crows: Leigh Bardugo

Another book I’ve slept on for a while, but as soon as I started reading… that was it. SoC is JUST EXCEPTIONAL. Kaz Brekker is everything. There are no other words. I need more of Brekker in my life and you definitely need him in your life if you don’t know of him. Danger, wit and friendship.

Clean: Juno Dawson

This book made me swear on the tube it’s THAT good. It’s gritty and dark. Lexi is one of those characters who stick with you. I read this book months ago and she’s still there in my head.

Spark: Alice Broadway

If there’s one thing I love about a book, it’s when there’s a folklore woven beautifully into it and Alice GETS IT RIGHT EVERY TIME. Spark (and Ink, its predecessor) are just exceptional pieces of storytelling (GIMME THE 3RD ONE PLZ SCHOLASTIC)

A Thousand Perfect Notes: C.G.Drews

We ALL KNEW there’d be a book on this list that absolutely made me cry like a baby and here we have it. This book broke me in pieces. It’s SO horrific, but so light. I can’t describe how incredible this book is. It just is. Please go and treat yourself to it.

Hero at the Fall: Alwyn Hamilton

HOW SAD I AM THIS SERIES IS OVER. But this book was the most satisfying end it could’ve had. I was STUNNED at one point. It made me cry, it made me happy, it shocked me. Jin ❤

THERE WERE SO SO SO MANY MORE that could have been on the list. YA in 2018 seemed to be on another level. I can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store, 2018 has set the bar PRETTY high. 

A massive thank you to all of the brilliant publishers who have sent me books this year. You guys are amazing. I love reading your books and then shouting about them all over the internet. It makes me so happy. 

S x 

BLOG TOUR: Rosie Loves Jack

Happy Wednesday!

Today I’m here as part of the blog tour for the brilliant Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon.

They can’t send you away. What will we do? We need us. I stop your angry, Jack. And you make me strong. You make me Rosie.

Rosie loves Jack. Jack loves Rosie. So when they’re separated, Rosie will do anything to find the boy who makes the sun shine in her head. 
Even run away from home.
Even struggle across London and travel to Brighton, though the trains are cancelled and the snow is falling. Even though people might think a girl like Rosie could never survive on her own. 
See the world through new eyes in this one-in-a-million story.

This is a blog tour like no other… today, in the spirit of the book, I’m going to share with you some people that I’d quite happily write to every day and why I think it’s important that we don’t let the art of letter writing die!

Dear everyone I love,

I think letter writing is a brilliant thing, that unfortunately is getting lost. It’s getting lost in our need for immediacy. I get it. I know that letter writing isn’t a thing that is necessary in the world of emails, text messages and WhatsApps – we get the answers we need today much faster. However, as much as it might not be necessary, it is JOYOUS. Tell me there’s something more exciting than receiving a letter in the post. Tell me there’s something more lovely than knowing someone’s taken some time to write you a letter.

I love receiving a letter. It makes me so happy. I’m not talking about bills and pension statements: I’m talking about letters from friends. Even the people I know the best in the world. I love receiving letters from them. One of my best friends and I go through phases where we write letters to each other and it makes me so happy. The sending and receiving of letters. I sent all of my children a postcard in the Summer holidays and the joy it brought them, and their parents, was such a testament to the power of letters for me.

Now I know I can’t write letters to everyone I know, every day of my life. If there was one person I had to write to every day, I would choose my brother or my best friend Kelly. Both of these people have a MASSIVE impact in my everyday life. Neither of them live particularly close to me – Kiruna (Sweden) and Cardiff… both FAR AWAY.

However, I’ll write to anyone who is willing to write back. There’s something very personal and therapeutic about writing a letter. I love that Rosie Loves Jack explores letters.

So hello, yes, you reading this – write someone a letter. If you don’t think you have anyone who would like to receive a letter, then send it to me. I’ll happily respond. It’s a lovely thing to do!

You’re all brilliant,

S x

Massive thank you to the brilliant humans of Usborne for asking me on the blog tour! It was a lot of fun getting to ramble on about writing letters and my love of it!

BOOK BLOG:Sarah Ann Juckes

Outside: harrowing, surprising and emotional

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“Outside follows the story of Ele, who is held captive in a small room by a man known as ‘Him’. Ele is determined to prove there is a world Outside. And when she finds a hole in the wall, the proof starts leaking in. In this dark and compelling debut novel, Ele’s strong and heartbreakingly optimistic voice shines through, revealing an important lesson about the power of stories to save lives”

I was lucky enough to win a proof of this at YALC and I hadn’t heard of it, nor did I read the letter from the author in the book before I started to read. Part of me is glad I didn’t read, part of me thinks I would’ve been more emotionally prepared for the onslaught of terror and tears that followed!

Outside follows the story of a little girl, Ele, who is determined to get outside into freedom. She’s never been outside of her room. She’s locked in a tower and she’s determined to get out, but isn’t really sure how. She’s frightened. There’s a mysterious man (Him) who she is defintely afraid of. Reading through this book, it took me a good chunk of the book until I was sure the main character is a young girl – you’re never explicitly told, it’s just something that is assumed, but my brain was not sold entirely. This made the book even more of an enigma for me because I wanted to know, so I kept reading and my word, it is so excellent

I spent a lot of this book scared and worried for the little girl. I was terrified of Him. There’s some harrowing scenes in this book. There’s some pretty dark themes explored in this which made me more gripped, but horrified at times too. These themes are dealt with excellent care: you never feel exposed or stamped on. 

There’s a lot of juxtaposition in this book: light vs dark, love vs hate, fear vs safety, trusting vs fearing, knowing vs not knowing. The main character goes through a lot of confusing emotions between wanting to be outside vs the fear of being outside. But this is to be expected! Imagine going outside for the first time and the things you come across… I love this kind of thing because as a reader you never REALLY know where you stand in life. 

Yes, this book is dark and deals with some pretty bleak themes, but it also has some gorgeously light moments. When you meet him, you’ll love Ezra. He’s the ultimate hero. He needs needs a million medals. This book shows the kindness and strength of the human spirit brilliantly. 

Did I cry? OH MY WORD YES. It broke my soul quite a lot

Unfortunately, you’ve got quite a while to wait as it’s not out until January 2019. But trust me, it is worth the wait.

Can you imagine never being outside?
What do you think would baffle you most about being outside?
Are you excited for the release of Outside?

Let me know your thouhgts in the comments! I’d love to know your answers to my questions!

S x

BLOG TOUR: The Hurting

Today I have the absolute joy of hosting Lucy van Smit, author of The Hurting on my blog. I was originally asked to be part of the blog tour with a review, but then I was asked if I’d like to do a Q&A and I was thrilled. I really enjoyed The Hurting… it’s a LOT. My review is coming in the next week or so, so I won’t spoil it too much! 

Image result for the hurting lucy van smit

Check out my Q&A with Lucy and go out and buy the book (it’s out now!)… it’s a gripping read!

1) Where did the inspiration for The Hurting come from?
The Hurting started with the abduction of the baby originally as an exercise on my Creative Writing MA to show a character through her actions. I love literary Nordic Noir thrillers, but I don’t like violence, and stealing a baby as I’d lost a child myself, was the worst thing I could imagine. A writing friend scoffed, and told me I’d never get the story published, and that made me stubborn and I found a way into the story that was uplifting – a girl finding redemption after being led astray. I dug deep into myself and explored my Catholic childhood, and Nell calls on almost supernatural mystical powers to try and rescue Ulv Pup. Like Nell, I didn’t believed in romantic love as a girl, but fell in love at first sight with my husband. I really wanted to explore that immense emotion, and wonder what it would it take to fight such an infatuation. It’s a challenging story, and I’m lucky I have wonderful publishers. I was nervous in case adults misread the story, but I just got this terrific feedback from a school librarian

“Dear Lucy,  It’s brilliant! Really, really good – and I’m not just saying that.  I finished it last night and was genuinely sad it had come to an end.  It’s very powerful and so vivid;  some authors are good at characterisation, some at setting…you seem to excel at both.  I’m seriously impressed. I’m thrilled actually, as for me the very best YA books (and the ones that I encourage our Year 8s to read) are those which are well-written, powerful reads on often quite dark subjects but which don’t resort to gratuitous sex or violence.  Personally, I think you’ve nailed it.”

2) Did you always know that Lukas would be as sinister a character as he became?

Hm, Lukas sinister? I don’t see Lukas that way. I perceived Lukas as a very beautiful, damaged, wild, passionate boy raised by wolves, who had vowed to save his wolf pack on the Norwegian fjords. Lukas never intended to fall in love with Nell. She was his prey, but he is hugely romantic. A poetic Lorca character with a dark brooding soul, obsessed with death. Technically, it was extremely tricky to write a thriller in the first person, present tense, so I added a few Lukas scenes in his point of view, to rack up the tension and suspense and explain Lukas’s actions are driven by love to save his family.

3) What did you want a reader to take away from this story?

It’s a Sleeping Beauty fable; at the beginning of the novel, Nell says, ‘I’ve thrown away my life like toilet paper, and never noticed.’ She is woken by a kiss, but finds herself through her connection with the baby Ulv Pup who represents Nell’s innocence and pulls Nell back to her true self. I wanted a reader to notice themselves more, their own lives more and how much is wonderful in ourselves and our immediate families. 

4) Your setting is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever read, did you visit any exotic locations for the story?

lucy picture

Wow!  Thank you so much. I am a painter and used to work in TV. I guess I am a visual writer.  I took my family on a trip to Norway and we visited the Norwegian Fjords, the famous Flam Railway and Bergen and Oslo, and the Pulpit Stone in Stavanger down south, which I ‘moved’ in my story and called Sermon Rock.  I chose Norway because I needed wolves because of Nell’s fear of dogs, but I fell in love with the fjords. It is the most beautiful county. On the trip, we stayed with farmers who had a local wolf problem, where a lone wolf was behaving out of character and killing dogs in the woods and attacking goats in front of people. Norwegians kill a lot of wolves and an alpha left isolated without a pack becomes unpredictable and aggressive. I picked up loads of lore about Norway along the way.

5. There’s a lot of twists and turns in the book, are you a plotter or do you let your plot take you by surprise when you write?

Definitely a plotter when it comes to a thriller. I use a lot of TV tricks, sets up and pay offs. I’d see an image or a clue earlier on, so when the twist comes it feels more plausible. For the more lyrical sections, where Nell tunes into her singing and her response to the landscape and her feelings for the baby, that often sprang out and surprised me.

A massive thank you to Lucy for taking the time to answer my questions! It’s always fascinating learning all about books from the author themselves!

Check out the rest of the people on the blog tour… there’s some cracking posts!

hurting-blog-tour-banner

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

BOOK BLOG: Hayley Barker

Show Stopper/Show Stealer: thrilling books excellently paced that you just can’t put down!

Show Stopper and Show Stealer is a duology written by Hayley Barker and I JUST ADORED THEM OK? I picked up Show Stopper a while ago based solely on the cover (just look at it man!) and once I had dived into the world of the twisted circus and got to the end, I needed the second one. I bought Show Stealer (the sequel) about 2 days later and immersed myself right back into the world. 

Show Stopper:
Set in a near-future England where the poorest people in the land are forced to sell their children to a travelling circus – to perform at the mercy of hungry lions, sabotaged high wires and a demonic ringmaster. The ruling class visit the circus as an escape from their structured, high-achieving lives – pure entertainment with a bloodthirsty edge. Ben, the teenage son of a draconian government minister, visits the circus for the first time and falls instantly in love with Hoshiko, a young performer. They come from harshly different worlds – but must join together to escape the circus and put an end to its brutal sport.

I won’t share the synopsis for Show Stealer because spoilers… but if you’re curious click here.

I’ll try and keep this review as un-spoilery for both as possible!

In the world of these books, you’re introduced to a society of the Pures and the Dregs (yes, I couldn’t unsee the Six of Crows either!). The Pures are the rich and the Dregs are the poor. The Dregs live in the slums and do the menial jobs in the world of the Pures. If you’re an unlucky (or lucky, depending how you see it) Dreg, you might be taken in by the circus and be trained up to perform for the Pures. The Dregs aren’t treated well, but as they have no rights, this happens for the entertainment of the Pures. As the books progress, you see the inside of the circus and the deplorable ways in which the performers are treated. 

I adored the circus setting. I’m well into books that are set in the circus (if you have any recommendations, please tell me because I am all about them… kids and YA please!) The setting is so brilliantly described in book 1, but in book 2 these descriptions are just taken to another level. The circus changes for the worse in book 2, so the descriptions get DARK to match the new look circus. 

As well as the incredible setting, there’s a bunch of characters who will pull at your heart and make you angry and make you see the good in people and make you want to punch things and make you look at the world these people live in, as well as our world! I think it was the characters that made me fall into love with these books even more:
Ben – he’s brave, honest and compassionate. You feel the real pull in Ben’s heart between what he has been taught and what he believes is right. I loved Ben a lot. He’s a very good egg. He goes against everything he’s ever known because he sees an injustice happening. I fell for him quickly. 
Hoshi – she’s fierce and fearless, particuarly where the people she loves are concerned. I loved seeing her growth. She’s like a Mama Bear. Hoshi is one of those characters that have so many layers – once you get under her skin there is still so much more to learn.
Viviene – Ben’s mam, politician. This woman is just disgusting. Some of the things she believes and fights for are vitriolic and I genuinely despised her. We need to talk about her more, but I can’t help but get a little angry about her.
Roger – Ben’s dad. I have quite different emotions for dad than mam. At first, I thought he had no backbone, but that changes. I can’t reveal why I have such a soft spot for him because MASSIVE SPOILERS, but trust me he is a good man.
Silvio – the ring master of the circus. GOD THIS MAN. He’s an egomanic and true narcissist. He ONLY gets worse as the books go on too. 
Jack – he makes an appearance in book 1, but is pretty important in book 2. I adore him. He is an actual hero.

There are more characters than this… there’s some wonderful additions to the circus in book 2. I could talk about the characters in these books for many words, but I won’t!

(I wanna go and reread these books now! I miss these characters quite a lot)

One of the things that surprised me about these books were how politically driven they were. I didn’t expect to read these and think politics, but the politics of the world is one of the prevalent threads throughout and I quite adored it. There’s a lot to learn from these books. There’s many a comparison that can be made between these books and the world that we live in today. If people could just find in them a smidgen of compassion, like Ben, then we would have a much kinder world. We can change minds and we can be wrong, but we should ALWAYS be kind. Jack is one of the most important characters in these books. Please can we all appreciate him please? Books like these show that the good guys can win and that kindness will get you further than hatred. 

My goodreads reviews of these books:

Show Stopper: 

If I could swear here, I would swear. What an absolute winner of a book here. My mind is 100% blown.

Show Stealer

I have THOUGHTS and FEELINGS about this book. More feelings than thoughts.

This book manages to encapsulate the absolute brilliance of book 1, but is more despicable, horrifying, compassionate and honest all at the same time. I just can’t get the words right now.

Shout out to Roger 💛

Ha. I love the Goodreads version of me. 

Have you read Show Stopper or Show Stealer?
CAN WE TALK ABOUT THEM PLEASE?
Can you recommend any circus books?

Talk to me in the comments, or on twitter please! I need more people who love these books in my life!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Chloe Coles

Bookshop Girl: funny, relatable and moving!

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“Bennett’s Bookshop has always been a haven for sixteen-year-old Paige Turner. It’s a place where she can escape from her sleepy hometown, hang out with her best friend, Holly, and also earn some money. But, like so many bookshops, Bennett’s has become a ‘casualty of the high street’ – it’s strapped for cash and going to be torn down. Paige is determined to save it but mobilising a small town like Greysworth is no mean feat.

Time is ticking – but that’s not the only problem Paige has. How is she going to fend off the attractions of beautiful fellow artist, Blaine? And, more importantly, will his anarchist ways make or break her bookshop campaign?”

Earlier this month (technically the end of July, but shush), when I was at YALC, I was lucky enough to listen to Chloe Coles in a panel all about being in the publishing world and hearing her talk about her book made me want to pick it up then and there! Chloe is HILARIOUS and I want her to be one of my real life friends because I am all about people that make me laugh in my life. Having met Chloe and spoken to her for a little bit, I knew had high hopes for this book… and let me tell you, it does not disappoint!

Bookshop Girl is the tale of Paige, a bookish teenager, who works in a bookshop that is being threatened to close down (art mimicking real life or what?!). Paige, along with the help of her best friend, sets it in her sights to save her shop. Oh, but it isn’t that simple… of course there’s a boy in the mix. A seemingly harmless boy. A very attractive young man who catches the eye of our leading lady. (Oh Paige!)

What I loved most about this book was that it showed in such a positive light what using your voice can do. Paige learns very quickly that using her voice, and using the voice of the people around her, can do really good things. There’s some really touching moments with Paige reaching out to authors for the people that she loves that made my heart so happy. Paige discovers some incredible supportive people in very unexpected places – these aren’t people that Paige would’ve expected to support her, yet here they stand, supporting her. There’s some brilliant messages in here about being an activist (on all scales) and standing up for yourself. There’s some brilliant messages about feminism in this book too. 

Despite the fact this book deals with some pretty hard hitting messages, it manages to be hilarious and relatable. Paige sees an injustice in the world around her and she does something about it, but obviously there are things that go awry. She’s a teenage girl. Life is never that simple to always go the way you want. However she is very lucky to be surrounded by people that love her. Her best friend is just lush. There’s scenes between them that I just adore (we’ve all been there, we all have our best friends who we can just be ourselves with). I would love to be Paige’s friend. 

I do not wish to spend much time on the subject of The Boy. I was lulled into a false sense of security with him, although I didn’t trust him. There was always something off with him. 

It’s so incredibly lush to read a book about bookish people, written by a bookish person. Chloe is a bookseller at Foyles in London, which I think adds a really special element to this book. 

What you get in this book is laughter, love and a sense of pride in the bookish community. I would recommend it for anyone who is after a laugh (or a lol as Chloe would say!) It’s such a lush book and I can not wait for book 2 to come out in September!

(I LOVE this cover so much… so colourful!)

My goodreads review reads:

Funny, relatable and brilliant. The power of books, libraries, bookshops told from a teenage girl. I just think this was great. Paige is hilarious. Many moments of lol were had.

Have you read Bookshop Girl?
Can you recommend any books like this?

Let me know in the comments what you thought of this review, your thoughts on the book or any recommendations you have for me! I love a book that will make me laugh! Bookshop Girl is available to buy now! 

S x

BLOG TOUR: The Secret Deep

The Secret Deep: thrilling, captivating and a little bit terrifying!

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When Aster wakes alone on a tropical island, she has no idea what has happened, why she is there, or where to find her younger sister, Poppy. Meanwhile Sam, who once met the sisters on a plane, makes links between the mystery of their disappearance and suspicious happenings in his own life. In a stunning dual narrative, the truth unravels with devastating effect – and the answer lies in the secret underwater world surrounding the desert island, populated by the beautiful and the impossible…”

My first instincts when I picked up this book were “OMG LOOK AT THAT COVER THOUGH”. That cover is exceptional. You can’t see it particularly well in my picture, but there are little details on the cover of little bubbles. I’m all about this blue theme going on in the cover. 

The title also intrigued me INSTANTLY. The Secret Deep? What’s the secret? Deep? They’re clearly going underwater, or in the water. As a keen swimmer (I bet you didn’t know that!) I was very curious to know what was going on. The tag line “The deeper she dives, the darker it gets” hooked me too cause I guessed that it didn’t just mean the absence of light… and there is so much more than just an absence of light!

The Secret Deep tells the story of Aster and her sister Poppy, who lose their mum to cancer and who have to go live with their auntie. Their auntie lives on an “ecovillage” and is some kind of scientist. Aster and Poppy are given bands (a bit like fitbits) to track their sleeping and other habits, which immediately gets Aster suspicious instantly. When something goes wrong and Aster ends up stranded on an island, without her sister, or her auntie… things start to get interesting. There’s mystery, an underwater setting, a beautiful writing style that will make you want to read on no doubt!

Once I started reading, I knew that I had hit on an absolute winner here. I was away for the weekend with my mam and one of my aunties so I had a weekend to just read and enjoy it. I sat on the balcony and just devoured this book in a matter of hours. There’s so many different themes explored in this book that I could go on for hours. This book deals with medical consent, grief, sibling relationships, friendships, trust and the complexities of families.

While we’re here on families… the auntie in this book is just… she has questionable morals for sure. She’s sinister and I would not like to be caught anywhere with herland or sea. (She gave me vibes of J from The Loneliest Girl in the Universe too!) Here we have two young girls who are meant to be being looked after by their auntie, but obviously that is not the way it turns out to be! I need you all to read it and appreciate how utterly sinister the auntie is – regardless of what she says her motives are. 

This book hit quite a personal chord with me as it explores genes, more specifically cancer genes. A someone who has been diagnosed (is that the right word?) with a cancer gene, it was compelling for me to read it in a story and see that these things are being talked about. I was taken aback at first as this was the first time that I’d read anything about gene studies in relation to cancer. 

A little shout out here to Sam, because he is an absolute darling. It’s so refreshing to read stories that have just a good character in them. Someone who doesn’t have an ulterior motive, who just wants to help and who is there when he is needed most. I really liked Sam, an interesting juxtaposition of him and the auntie (who we all know, creeped me out a little!)

There’s a gorgeous mix in this book of science, survival and sisterhood. What wouldn’t you do for the ones you love?

My goodreads review reads:

A complex and beautiful story of Aster, a young girl who loses her mother to cancer, who has to move to live with her auntie in New Zealand. What meets her there isn’t the usual life – there’s science, the sea, some tracking devices and much more. 

I really enjoyed this – an exploration of medical consent, family, grief and trust. Can you always trust your family?

Have you read The Secret Deep?
Is being stranded on a desert island your worst nightmare?
Do you reckon you would survive?

Let me know what you thought in the comments! 

THE SECRET DEEP is out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House)
 
Connect with Lindsay on Twitter: @lindsaygalvin
 

Find out more at lindsaygalvin.com and chickenhousebooks.com  

You should 100% check out the rest of the posts on the blog tour – they are all incredible! 

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S x