BLOG TOUR: The Pieces of Ourselves

Hello lovely friends!

How are you all this fine Sunday? I know, you’re shocked! Two posts in one day? I am SPOILING YOU FRIENDS. 

This afternoon, I’m here as part of the blog tour for Maggie Harcourt’s newest book, The Pieces of Ourselves. I posted my review of this book a few weeks ago, and I still wanted to be involved in the celebration of this brilliant book, so I suggested coming up with book recommendations for books you might like if you’ve read The Pieces of Ourselves, or any of Maggie’s other books! (If you haven’t read them yet, you really need to: I’m a BIG Maggie Harcourt fan!)

A little bit about The Pieces of Ourselves first…

47952564._sy475_

“Flora doesn’t do people”, not since the Incident that led to her leaving school midway through her GCSEs. The Incident that led to her being diagnosed with bipolar II. The Incident that left her in pieces. Until Hal arrives. He’s researching a story about a missing World War I soldier, and he wants Flora’s help. Flora used to love history before the Incident, but spending so much time with Hal is her worst nightmare. Yet as they begin to piece together the life of the missing soldier, a life of lost love, secrets and lies, Flora finds a piece of herself falling for Hal.”

This book is honest and raw and interesting. It’s different and it’s curious. It made me think and it made me feel. I love Flora and Hal’s story so much. There’s so much goodness in their lives and they’re surrounded by questions. I see a bit of myself in Flora. I loved Charlie and Felix so much. Just a brilliant story that made me shocked, made me cry and made me fall a little bit in love. History and the present well and truly overlapping.

If you’re interested in my full review, check it out here: BOOK BLOG: Maggie Harcourt

So… you’re looking for recommendations I hear? You’ve come to the right gal. Below are 6 other books I’d recommend based on this – they’re not all exactly the same, but they all give me a “hopeful, honest, interest and different” vibe. They’re all books I’ve loved.

HOLLY BOURNE BOOKS

HB

If you haven’t read them yet, go and read yourself a Holly Bourne book. They deal with all kinds of themes from mental health to relationships to friendships. Is that what you’re looking for? Look no further… 

Heartstopper series by Alice Oseman

Image result for heartstopper series

Are you looking for something cute? Are you someone who likes to smile? Do you want your little shipper heart to be burst? Look no further my friends!

The Love Hypothesis by Laura Steven

img_2049

Do you love reading intelligent main characters? Do you love supportive family dynamics? Do you love to laugh? Then this book, my friends, is absolutely the one for you… (I love Laura’s books, read them all thanks!)

Destination Anywhere by Sara Barnard (out in July)

51203579._sy475_

Are you looking for another brilliant story? Do you sometimes feel a bit lost in your own world? Do you just wanna scream for freedom sometimes? Check out Peyton’s story… because it’s BRILLIANT. (hello, Sara Barnard fan girl here)

No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter

35818725._sy475_

Do you love a brilliant main character? Are you someone who wants to relate to a main character? Do you sometimes feel like there’s no stories about people like you? Read No Big Deal because it’s a MASSIVE deal. 

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Image result for summer bird blue

Are you looking for a summery read? Do you seek a story about unlikely friendships? Do you need something that will make you cry but fill you with hope? I bring you this one… 

A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G.Drews

36389267

Do you wanna meet possibly the cutest little sister in YA fiction? Do you wanna read a book that will break your heart, but know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel? Do you, like me, love a good cry? This story might break you, but trust me, it’s brilliantly done…

And that’s it! Those are my recommendations for you! You should definitely also check out Maggie’s other two books because they are BRILLIANT (and they’re so lush, like the lushest).

A massive thank you to Usborne for letting me be part of the blog tour for The Pieces of Ourselves! And thank YOU for stopping by!

Have you read any of my recommended reads?
Have you read The Pieces of Ourselves?
What books would you recommend based on The Pieces of Ourselves?

Talk to me in the comments! Speak to you all soon! Stay safe!

S x 

BLOG TOUR: Fig Swims the World

Good morning! 

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

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

Lou’s List of Swims

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

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

Lou's list 1

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

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

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

  1. The Marathon swim – Dart 10K

Lou's list 4

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

  1. The Popular swim – 6.5km around Brownsea Island

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

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

Lou's list 7

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

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

Lou's list 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

50551414. sy475

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

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

S x

BOOK BLOG: Sara Barnard

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

51203579. sy475

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

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

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

Sara mood board

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

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

Amazon Preorder Link

Waterstones Preorder Link

Hive Preorder Link

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

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

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

Speak to you all soon! Stay safe! 

S x

BOOK BLOG: James Goodhand

Last Lesson: Tense, gripping and thrilling

52381146. sx318 sy475

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

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

etkscnixkauzhdp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Goodreads review:

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

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

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

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

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Maggie Harcourt

The Pieces of Ourselves: dive into history and find yourself!

47952564._sy475_

“Flora doesn’t do people”, not since the Incident that led to her leaving school midway through her GCSEs. The Incident that led to her being diagnosed with bipolar II. The Incident that left her in pieces. Until Hal arrives. He’s researching a story about a missing World War I soldier, and he wants Flora’s help. Flora used to love history before the Incident, but spending so much time with Hal is her worst nightmare. Yet as they begin to piece together the life of the missing soldier, a life of lost love, secrets and lies, Flora finds a piece of herself falling for Hal.”

I’m a massive fan of Maggie Harcourt’s other books. They’ve both brought massive smiles to my face and been the joy of my life, so when I heard there was going to be another one, I was CHOMPING at the bit to get my hands on it. When it arrived, I was excited to read it and expected it to be the same as her other books, but I was surprised. Pleasantly. This book is so different and it’s SO INCREDIBLE. 

Theatrical review

Unconventional review

The Pieces of Ourselves tells the story of Flora. Flora is a young girl who has bipolar and works at a big fancy house as a housekeeper. She lives with her brother and his boyfriend. She’s not a big fan of people. She’s not had wonderful experiences with people in her past. Something happened during her GCSEs and it’s changed her perception of people. She keeps herself to herself as much as she can… that is until she is thrust into the presence of Hal, a young man who is desperate to know the story of a WW1 soldier. She’s hesitant at first, but as she gets deeper into the mystery, she knows that she needs to get to the bottom of the story. And she needs to open herself up a bit. 

I’m a proper sucker for a mystery. A well-written mystery like this one can be one of the absolute joys of my life to read. I read this book with so much curiosity because just like Hal and Flora, I wanted to know what the story behind this soldier was. I wanted to see how this very timid and quite isolated young girl would keep changing and flourishing as she followed things she loved doing. 

I really liked the honest portrayal of Flora’s bipolar in this book. It’s done really well and I think that it will be eye-opening for lots of people to read Flora’s character. You see how Flora’s brother and his partner help Flora in her times of need. You see how it affects Flora. 

This book gave me a resounding feeling of warmth. It was one of intrigue and questions. It was so lovely to read a story where the two main characters are (mostly) surrounded by love. There’s a lot of passion in this story. People doing what they’re good at. People following their passions. People getting the chance to shine at what they do best. Flora following her passions of history, even when at first she definitely didn’t want to, made me so glad. Sometimes people have to pushed into their comfort zones to really shine. 

Friends. I love Hal. OK?

I just think he’s so lovely. He’s sweet and kind. He’s curious. He’s honest. He’s guarded. He’s lovely. He’s (in my head) handsome. He’s got a passion. He’s got a story and I love that he shared his story with Flora. 

For those people asking? Yes. Yes I cried. Of course I did. What do you expect from me? 

My Goodreads review:

This book is honest and raw and interesting. It’s different and it’s curious. It made me think and it made me feel. I love Flora and Hal’s story so much. There’s so much goodness in their lives and they’re surrounded by questions. I see a bit of myself in Flora. I loved Charlie and Felix so much. Just a brilliant story that made me shocked, made me cry and made me fall a little bit in love. History and the present well and truly overlapping.

I need someone to read this book so I can FLAIL about Hal because I just love him. I have loads of other thoughts about this book but they are SPOILERSPOILERSPOILER. So just go out and buy it when it’s out (April 2nd) and then we can talk! 

Are you curious about The Pieces of Ourselves?
Do you like a mystery?
Have you read any of Maggie’s other books?

A massive thank you to the publishers, Usborne, for sending me a copy of this early. You guys sent it to me in perfect time for me to need it. 

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Lisa Williamson

First Day Of My Life: An incredible story of secrets, lies, friendships and love. 

50633478._sy475_

First Day of My Life tells the story of 3 teenagers whose lives are very much intertwined on a day in their lives where something terrible happens: a baby goes missing. 

first day of my lifeProof copy sent from the publishers, David Fickling Books.

We meet Frankie, Jojo and Ram. Three teenagers who are celebrating the summer holidays. They’ve finished their GCSEs. The day the book starts on is actually GCSE results day. A baby goes missing. When Jojo doesn’t turn up, Frankie starts thinking the very worst. (yep, you’ve got it… she thinks her best friend has stolen the missing baby!) What follows is Frankie’s quest to find the truth, a missing baby and her best friend. There’s an awful lot of emotion and familiar faces that join the story to help her! 

The first thing I have to say is that this book is MAGNIFICENT. It’s clever. It’s heartbreaking. It’s hard to read. It’s real. It’s scary. It’s being a teenager. It’s dealing with your emotions. It’s questionable parenting and some decisions which made me SO ANGRY. It’s having secrets and telling lies. It’s needing to tell more lies to cover up the lies you told. It’s dealing with some tough things. It’s knowing who to turn to when you need help most. It’s misleading. It’s unpredictable. It’s so many emotions rolled into one incredible book. 

It’s just a really great story with incredible characters.

For anyone who is new to Lisa Williamson books, where have you been? Lisa writes in such an incredible way and her stories always punch me in the gut. I swear to you, there’s not a Lisa Williamson book I’ve not read that I haven’t cried at! Lisa does realistic contemporary novels brilliantly well and I can’t wait to read more! 

All About Mia review

The Art of Being Normal review

Paper Avalanche review

This book is written in a split perspective and I really loved it. I loved learning about how the lives of the friends were interlaced. I loved learning about the characters through each other and through their own narratives. It was really interesting being part of secrets when the other people in the story didn’t know. 

There’s some decision making by adults in this book that MADE ME SO ANGRY. I can’t really share what they are because spoilers, but just know that some of the adults in this book made me so cross. I think what makes it worse is that there is some element of realism to the decisions that the adults make. 

One of the messages I got from this book was that even when we love people, even when we think we’re looking out for the people we love, we can hurt them. Even when we don’t think we are. 

This book is full of ALL OF THE EMOTIONS. There’s love, hope, happiness, relief, love, loss, heartbreak, betrayal, sadness, reunions. 

There’s loads of moments in this book of quiet, honest love and some of love in sheer desperation. The girls love each other dearly. They want the best for each other, but when things start going a bit wrong, they don’t give up on each other. They show that it’s love and kindness that matters most. 

I loved that this book celebrated diverse family situations. Each of the 3 main characters has a different family dynamic, and while that may not seem like something worth celebrating, it totally is. It’s so important that we show people that their family matters. That there’s no one way for a family to be. 

A massive shout out here to the scene between Ram and the policeman (I can’t give any more context here because spoilers hah). It was a gentle and tough and heartbreaking scene to read. It completely broke me. I cried so so hard at that scene. There’s so much emotion in that scene on the page that it translated to many tears for me! 

My Goodreads review:

This book is all kinds of magnificent. It’s heartbreaking and tough and hard to read. It’s revelations and secrets. It’s love in so many forms. It’s doing what’s right for you even when you know it’s going to hurt the people you love. It’s hard hitting and raw at times. I love how intertwined the 3 characters are and how their stories unfolded. The 3 perspectives worked so well. The epilogue made my heart so happy. Massive shout out to the scene between Ram and the policeman: it broke my heart. Bloody bravo!

And that’s it! 

A MASSIVE MASSIVE thank you to the publishers David Fickling Books for sending me a proof copy of this incredible book. I devoured it in a matter of hours. 

Have you read any Lisa Williamson books?
Are you excited for this one?
What’s your take on split-perspective books?

Chat to me! I’d love to know your thoughts!

S x 

Half term reads…

HELLO!

As you will have seen from yesterday’s post, last week was half term, and as we know, in half term…

I READ ALL OF THE BOOKS. 

I love half terms because it gives me a proper chance to just gobble through a whole load of books. Today, I thought I would share with you what I read and VERY QUICK reviews of them! Some of them I have full reviews planned for in the coming weeks, but if you’re interested in full reviews of any, let me know and I’ll schedule them in! 

This half term I read 10 books and started an 11th. I think that’s pretty impressive for a half term holiday. I read a load of YA books which makes my brain so happy!

***

Half term reads meets MG books

The Bigwoof Conspiracy – Dashe Roberts

This was a whole lot of fun. A small little town that’s being taken over by Bigfoot type monsters, a little girl who refuses to accept that the adults don’t have the answers and a factory owner who is plying the town with sugar. I don’t think I’d like to visit… but I’d love to be Lucy’s friend! A great sci fi mystery!

Bad Nana: All The Fun of the Fair – Sophy Henn

Lush to be back with Bad Nana and the gang. As usual, she is up to no good! This book, like the rest of the books in this series, are loads of fun! I love the gorgeous illustrations and this one proper made me chuckle!

The Shark Caller – Zillah Bethell

Well… this was a BEAUTIFUL story filled with love, hope, grief and friendship. I absolutely adored Blue Wing and Mabel’s stories: how they went from being cold to each other to bonded. How important the sea is. How important kindness is. This is a magical story. I just loved it. (Full review already scheduled)

Jungledrop – Abi Elphinstone

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

Half term reads meets YA books

Noah Goes Nuclear – Simon James Green

A wonderful short story that I was delighted to get my hands on. Brilliantly funny, quintessential Simon James Green. Poor Noah. I love him so much. “Abort all intercourse” might be one of my favourite quotes from these books. Cackled through this! (The couple opposite me on the train were a bit taken aback by my laughter!)

Into the Crooked Palace – Alexandra Christo

My friend Charlotte gave me this to borrow and I really enjoyed it! Really interesting characters and some interesting relationships going on. Secrets, lies, manipulation, magic (YES) and a battle for power. I am looking forward to the sequel provided the sister isn’t in control cause she scares me a lot.

First Day Of My Life – Lisa Williamson

This book is all kinds of magnificent. It’s heartbreaking and tough and hard to read. It’s revelations and secrets. It’s love in so many forms. It’s doing what’s right for you even when you know it’s going to hurt the people you love. It’s hard hitting and raw at times. I love how intertwined the 3 characters are and how their stories unfolded. The 3 perspectives worked so well. The epilogue made my heart so happy. Massive shout out to the scene between Ram and the policeman: it broke my heart. Bloody bravo! (Full review to come)

The Pieces of Ourselves – Maggie Harcourt

This book is honest and raw and interesting. It’s different and it’s curious. It made me think and it made me feel. I love Flora and Hal’s story so much. There’s so much goodness in their lives and they’re surrounded by questions. I see a bit of myself in Flora. I loved Charlie and Felix so much. Just a brilliant story that made me shocked, made me cry and made me fall a little bit in love. History and the present well and truly overlapping. (Full review scheduled)

Rules for Being A Girl – Candace Bushness and Katie Cotungo 

This made me all kinds of angry, disgusted, happy and sad. I love that Marin’s family were so lovely. Team Grey all the way. The power of believing a person’s truth and their story, versus a battle of power. She was treated so unfairly, but she’s a fighter. There’s so much truth in this book and it made me cross for women all over the world.

Love Is For Losers – Wibke Bruggemann

A great book! I loved the diary entry format and the sarcastic, cynical voice of the MC. She goes through a lot in this book, but she comes out on top. Shout out to the kittens, the representations of love in all its forms and grief in this book. This is a great story told in a brilliant way.

***

And that’s it! A very quick, whistle-stop tour of all of the books I read in half term! I’m sure my reading will slow down a bit now that we’re in term time, but I still read EVERY day so I should get through a few books in the next few weeks!

Do you read more during half term?
What did you read in half term?
What are you excited to read in the coming weeks?

Talk to me in the comments. I’d love to know which of these books you’re most interested in hearing about! 

S x 

 

BOOK BLOG: Laura Steven

The Love Hypothesis: hilarious, relatable and a whole lot of brilliant

img_2049

“Physics genius Caro Kerber-Murphy knows she’s smart. With straight As and a college scholarship already in the bag, she’s meeting her two dads’ colossal expectations and then some. But there’s one test she’s never quite been able to ace: love. And when, in a particularly desperate moment, Caro discovers a (definitely questionable) scientific breakthrough that promises to make you irresistible to everyone around you, she wonders if this could be the key. What happens next will change everything Caro thought she knew chemistry – in the lab and in love. Is her long-time crush Haruki with her of his own free will? Are her feelings for her best girl friend some sort of side-effect? Will her dog, Sirius, ever stop humping her leg?”

As a massive fan of Laura Steven’s other books, I knew I needed to get my hands on a copy of Love Hypothesis as soon as humanly possible. Luckily for me, the brilliant publishers at Egmont sent me over a copy and, as soon as I finished the book I was reading, it went to the top of my list. I was hoping for a funny story with relatable characters and what I got was those things AND SO MUCH MORE. 

The Love Hypothesis tells the story of Caro – a bloody genius with 2 hilarious fathers – and her struggles with finding love in her teenage years. She’s always been the smart girl, and the people around her are always getting boyfriends and girlfriends, but she’s never managed to quite get there, until she discovers she can buy some dodgy pheromones from the internet, which will make people fall in love with her. Despite the fact she’s a genius, she thinks this is a stellar idea and what ensues is HILARITY, a lot of embarrassing situations, relatability and a story which I devoured in a matter of hours. 

As always, I’m going to try and keep this as spoiler-free as possible because I wold hate to ruin your lives by giving away everything! 

This book, like Laura’s other books, just oozes charm and wit. From my cackle on the first page to my sheer tears in the final pages, this book is one of those stories that I just wanna shake in front of everyone and tell them to read. I’ve read books where I’ve related to the main character many times before, but with this one there was a LOT of stuff that close to the bone and there were many times I was PUNCHED in the gut. But that’s why I loved it. There’s a certain magic in seeing yourself in a book, and while I’m no supergenius like Caro, I’ve been where she is. I am who she is. I’ve struggled like she does. I’ve thought to myself ‘I’m smart, I’m kind, I’m funny, WHY DOES NO ONE WANT ME?’. So reading this book was a bit like reading my thoughts.

I always love reading female protagonists, but what Laura’s got here (like she had with Izzy) is someone who is funny, clever and brilliant. You can’t read The Love Hypothesis and not find Caro endearing. I love reading clever characters. They’re one of those niches I love reading. Caro doesn’t shy away from being science-y in her story. She makes mistakes; she has to say sorry; she does most of this with grace and with her tail between her legs. She realises that there are some things more important than being wanted. She has those tough conversations and realises things about herself through the book and going on that journey with her felt like a bit of a priviledge. She goes through some HILARIOUS things – enter her two dads, who I will get to in a minute. 

Her dads. Man. I can’t NOT dedicate a little bit of space to her dads. They are HILARIOUS, SHAMELESS and MAJESTIC. I just loved them. They gave this book such warmth and love. They filled the pages with hilarity and compassion. I loved that it was SUCH a positive representation of a gay relationship and it wasn’t just there to tick a box: they were her dads and they loved her endlessly. I also love that they loved each other endlessly. They were the ying to the other’s yang. They both seemed to fit. I really loved their relationship. I loved that they were shameless dads: telling dad jokes, embarrassing Caro at every opportune moment. Vati was definitely an early favourite for me, but Dad definitely came into his own later on in the book. I’d LOVE  a book just about the dads. I bet they have some MAD stories to tell. 

Can we take a moment to appreciate the gorgeous cover? I love how bright it is! It looks gorgeous on my shelf! It’s so science-y, just like Caro!

This book is a wonderful story of love. Love in all its guises. Caro goes through an awful lot through this story, but it all comes down to love. Self love; love for your friends; love for your family; unrequited love; parental love. There were many moments where I was punched in the face because I had been there. Caro’s feelings about herself were especially poignant for me because she learns that she has to love herself just as much as she would love others. 

There’s some wonderful chats in this book about consent. Consent between people in a relationship and consent between friends. You don’t see the latter talked about often, but I think it’s so important that books talk about these things. 

Yes. There’s a ship. It’s a ship that I SHIPPED SO HARD. 

My Goodreads review:

This is proper triumph: funny, meaningful, clever. I’ve proper cackled, cried and learned things. I wanna hug this book and it’s characters: they’re just incredible. A massive shout out to the dads – they’re the best. There is SO MUCH OF ME in Caro that this hit close to home at times. Reading some of this was like reading my own thoughts. This books just brilliant. It’s funny, it’s full of love in all its guises.

My moodboard for this book because I couldn’t NOT show my love and appreciation for this book in more than just words!

LOVEHYPOTHESIS moodboard

A massive massive thank you to the publishers, Egmont, for sending me an early copy of the book for review. I just adored it. 

Have you read Love Hypothesis?
If you could take a pill and make everyone fall in love with you, would you?
IS THIS BOOK ON YOUR TO BUY LIST? 

Speak to you all soon! 

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Melinda Salisbury

Hello. It is me. Your resident superfan of Melinda Salisbury. You might need a cup of tea and a biscuit to get you through today’s post. I’ll try and keep this as brief as I can, but I can not promise anything. So get comfy, and prepare yourself for an epic review. 

Hold Back the Tide: a slightly terrifying, but incredible, piece of storytelling

img_2012

Everyone knows what happened to Alva’s mother, all those years ago. But when dark forces begin to stir in Ormscaula, Alva has to face a very different future – and question everything she thought she knew about her past…

So Mel. Writing a bit of horror are we? Well. I was ready, or at least I THOUGHT I was ready. I don’t think I actually was ready. I’m not a massive reader of the old horror books (I’m a total scaredy cat) but I will read anything Mel writes – superfan here.

img_2011


First up: LOOK HOW HAPPY I WAS WHEN IT ARRIVED.
I’ll not tell you that I cried and did a MASSIVE SQUEAL when I opened it though. When it arrived, it PROMPTLY went to the top of my TBR because, let’s be honest, that’s how it was always going to be! (There’s also a hilarious outtake of this picture that I’ve only shared with about 3 people that is my true fangirl spirit coming out). I’ve been waiting a year for this book friends. It was finally time. 

Right. Let’s stop putting off my inability to put into words what I truly thought of this book. Let me preface this review with my usual spiel: when I love a book, I find it harder to review because I always worry that my words will not do justice to how much I loved it. I always worry that it won’t come across what I thought of the book. So just know now that this book was everything I wanted and so much more. 

Hold Back the Tide tells the story of Alva, a young woman who lives with her TERRIFYING father in a cabin in the glorious north of Scotland. Her dad is, we learn in the first chapter, a murderer and Alva lives her life trying to make herself seem useful and/or silent in her father’s wake, so that nothing happens to her. Her father murdered her mother and Alva does everything to make sure that she’s not the next one. We learn quite quickly that Alva is planning to escape her father’s clutch and the place she’s known her whole life for a new life. But when things start going very wrong, Alva has to make a decision between staying and fighting, leaving behind everything and everyone she’s ever known or following her dreams. 

FIRST UP. I have to just say how much of a PUNCH the first chapter gives you. It might be one of the best first chapters I have ever read. It’s Alva’s rules for living with a murderer and it ends with one of those lines in a book that just punch you in face… If you were lucky enough to get a sampler at YALC, you know exactly how much of a banging first chapter it is. I must’ve reread my sampler about 20 times before the book arrived JUST for that first chapter. The rest of the book is JUST as terrifying.

This is going to be hard to write without going SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS. So if I’m crypic, please bear with me haha 

You open the book with an incredible first chapter, and so you’re starting in a bit of a tense mood. You’re not sure what’s going to go down. You’re a bit scared; you’re a bit worried; you know Alva is a proper badass. And the book carries on in much the same vein. You get a lot of unexpected goings on. There’s a lot of moments where I was like OMG WHAT NO. There’s so many twists and turns and things I didn’t see coming that I was just engrossed. There were shocks and surprises. There were moments I needed to stop and just take it all in. People came who surprised me. People went who I was glad to see the back of. 

Much like Joey in Friends, there was a moment or two when I wanted to put the book in the freezer. There’s a wonderful kind of tense terrifiying-ness in this book (which for me made it all the more scary). I was on the edge of my seat a lot. I didn’t know what was coming, whcih made me both more scared and more gripped. I’m not a massive horror/scary book fan, but this was one that I needed to get through because I needed to know what was coming. I needed to know what the FRICK was going on. Poor Mel had to put up with a lot of my messages about my theories and predictions – but that’s how you know you’ve got a good book! A book you’re involved in and theorising about is a book that you’re gripped on! 

The setting is wonderfully done too. Something Mel does wonderfully is world building, so I was really looking forward to seeing how she did this different genre. It’s a wonderfully spooky and kind of uninviting setting. It sets the scene so gloriously for what’s going to happen. You get a complete sense of the setting so brilliantly from Mel’s writing. You’ve got this village out in the woods by the loch where the people aren’t too inviting. Alva and her father are out in their house. There’s a lot of isolation. There’s a brilliant bit with Ren’s house (we’ll come to Ren later… *swoon*) that really bloody kicked me in the feels. The settings are all so vividly written without being forced. (Just don’t expect me to go there cause I don’t think I am tough enough ha!)

I’d like to take a moment for you all to enjoy the cover designed by Jamie Gregory. It’s the very best mix of spooky, creepy and ‘WTF is that?’ – just like the book.

Image result for hold back the tide

Did you appreciate it? Good. I’m glad. 

I can’t go through this and not talk about the characters. We all know – if you’ve been here a while – that I love a character. You could give me a shit book with brilliant characters and I’d enjoy it. I stan good characters… and let me tell you, BRILLIANT CHARACTERS APLENTY here (which is no surprise to be honest).

Let’s start with Alva. Oh Alva. Brilliant, wonderful, brave Alva. (side note: I bloody love the name Alva). She’s got a kind of strength I’d love to have. She’s got dreams she wants to chase and she’s got a plan. She knows what she wants. She’s secretive and bold with it. She’s a little bit proud. She’s a bloody badass. I mean she’s much braver than me. She does things that she HAS to do. She stands up for herself. She stands up for other people. There’s a gorgeous softness about her too. She pushes on through some HORRIFIC and SCARY things that are going on. She fights against BAD MEN (Giles, I’ll get to you in a second). I just think she’s a brilliant main character. Mel always writes the best female main characters (hello Twylla and Sorrow).

I can’t not go through this and give a massive shout out to Ren. Gorgeous, kind Murren Ross. I just adore him. He’s the kind of friend everyone wants to have. He doesn’t leave Alva’s side, even when she hurts him. He’s got his own crap going on, but he’s always there. He’s just wonderful. He goes through a lot being Alva’s friend. He remains at her side. I love that he’s just so loyal and protective without being smothering. A lot of my converns throughout the book were not for if Alva was hurt (I know that girl can protect herself), but for Ren. I needed him to be protected and OK. I love him with all of my soul. 

This book of course has some baddies. We all love a ruthless baddie in a book. The baddies in Hold Back The Tide are quite psychologically testing. Like Giles. Giles is a BAD BAD MAN. He makes Alva do things which are plain creepy. He does things to Alva that show how terrible a person he is. I would like to use a swear word to describe him, but I’ll not. He just is one of those BAD TO THE CORE men. He’s the kind of character who makes my skin crawl. Mel has always written delicious baddies, but I think Giles might be the worst of them (and that’s saying something cause I HATED Vespus in Sorrow). Friends, I just need you to read this book so I can talk about the bad things he’s doing. 

THE FEELS. PLEASE SEND HELP.

I finished this book 2 weeks ago now and I am STILL scared, triumphant and slightly heartbroken. We all know I cry at all of the books, but I wasn’t expecting to have to cry at this. There’s a lovely scene between Alva and her dad that just made me feel a lot of things. It’s just a small thing, but my god. There’s other moments in this book that just punched at my feels so hard. I went through a lot of this book on the edge of being sheer terrified. It’s a very tense kind of vibe. It’s delicious in that way. 

My Goodreads review:

JUST WHAT. This book was everything I wanted and hoped for from Mel: incredible characters, a spooky setting, wonderful writing and scary. I just went though every emotion… mainly being SCARED. This is a wonderfully atmospheric story set in the wilds of Scotland with an incredible main character and her murderer dad. There’s so much appearances can be deceiving moments here and I was here for all of them. Yes, I cried. I love Ren with all that I am.

Naturally, I finished this book and NEEDED to make a little moodboard. I hope you all like it. For me, this moodboard is this book in like 7 pictures. 

HBTT moodboard

YOU MADE IT TO THE END. Congratulations. 

Thanks for sticking with me. It’s not often I write mammoth posts like this. 

S x 

BLOG TOUR: Sofa Surfer

Sofa Surfer: a gorgeous story with helping people at its heart

img_1687(this was me devouring the proof on the bus, obv)

“15-year-old Tyler’s teenage angst turns to outright rebellion when his family leave London for a new life in Yorkshire. He’s angry with his parents about the upheaval and furious at losing his home. With only the dog to confide in, Tyler has no idea that a chance meeting with a skinny girl called Spider will lead him into a world he never even knew existed. Spider is sofa surfing and Tyler finds himself spinning a tangled web of lies in his efforts to help her escape her world of fear and insecurity.”

Now, it is well documented that I was a MASSIVE fan of Malcolm’s first book ‘Me. Mam. Me Dad. Me’ (if you’ve not read it please go and do that because it is bloody magnificent) which came out last year, so when I was asked if I wanted to be part of the blog tour for his second book, I jumped at the chance. I knew that if his first book was anything to go off, this book was going to be a proper hit… and let me tell you, it did not disappoint at all! 

Sofa Surfer tells the story of lovely Tyler, a young lad whose life has been turned upside down by a move away from London to Yorkshire. He hates it. He’s angry with his mam and dad cause they’ve pulled him away from everything he loves: his friends, his hobbies, his school. Now he’s somewhere new with no-one and nothing to do apart from walk his adorable dog. Through the story, Tyler grows to like the place he lives in. He finds friends in unexpected places and learns that lies, even when they’re there to try and help, are not a great thing. 

I loved reading this book. The characters in particular have a proper big place in my heart. Besides the fact that one of them is a Geordie (yes, we all know I STAN a Geordie character, it makes me feel at home in a book), they’re so brilliant written, they’re fully formed and they’re flawed.

If we start with Tyler, here you have a young man who is so gorgeously kind hearted, naive at times and so keen to help. He starts the book understandably angry and a little bit distant, but as you go through the book you learn more about him and see that he is someone who just wants to help. He makes mistakes; he says things that he shouldn’t; he chooses to do things that are questionable, but ultimately he’s human. We’ve all done it. We’ve all made mistakes in life that we have to learn from. He tries his very hardest to fix the things he’s done wrong. 

Tyler of course is only trying to help Spider. Lovely, lovely Spider. Spider, who we initially meet who seems quite cool and put together, whose story we learn as we go through the story. A character who teaches us about some of the realities of being homeless. A character who teaches us about the importance of listening. A character who is trying her best to do the best for herself. A character who wants so much but asks for so little. She gets woven into this story in such a gorgeous way. I fell for her straight away (being Geordie aside) because she oozes a kind of confidence. As you go through you see that a lot of it is a facade (as a lot of confidence can be!) and she’s just trying to put on a face. 

I think this story is one that has the potential to open a lot of conversations. It’s one I think a lot of people are going to love. It’s a story about friendship and standing up for what you think is right. It’s a story about two teenagers who have very different lives, who are brought together for a reason. It’s one of those books that sticks with you. I just adored it. 

My Goodreads review: 

I loved this an awful lot! An incredibly duet of characters: one who wants to help, albeit not in the the best ways, and one who didn’t ask for help. I love reading Geordie characters so Spider being a Geordie made me so happy. You see the realities of being a youngster who is homeless in this and I really felt for Spider. I’d love to hug her. Another brilliant story from Malcolm Duffy: I look forward to whatever else he writes!

A massive thank you to the publishers for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I can’t wait to see what everyone thinks of this book and I can’t wait to see what Malcolm writes next – if it involves more Geordies, I’m already going to be won over! 

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour!

SOFA SURFER BANNER

S x