The One Where I Read Two Books In One Day And Cried…

Hello. 

If you know me, you know I cry at all of the books.

I decided to read two books in one day the other day. Both of them which would make me cry. 

Why did you decide that? I hear you cry.

BECAUSE I AM A FOOL. A FOOL.

However, since I read them both, I figured I would write quick reviews of them because they were BOTH incredible and they need to be read ok? Excellent. 

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The Art of Being Normal – Lisa Williamson

Two boys. Two secrets.
David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl. On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in year eleven is definitely not part of that plan. When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long…

The Art of Being Normal tells the stories of David and Leotwo boys who are going through A LOT. David wants to be a girl: he knows he’s in the wrong body. Leo wants to be forgotten: he wants no attention. These two boys are so very different, but there’s something that they very much have in common (something I did NOT see coming). What you get when you put these two boys together is a brilliant story of unlikely friendships, solid bonds and an awful lot of tears! (I cried for the last 50 pages)

I loved this book so so much. The thing that stands out the most about this book is the incredible portrayal of relationships (between families, friends, enemies) and the power that these relationships have on our day to day life. You see the two boys’ relationship grow in front of your eyes and realise that sometimes the most important relationships you have in life are the non-romantic ones – it’s friendships built on love, respect and acceptance. You get to explore the incredible relationships between siblings; with parents and their children; not only that but negative relationships like the one between bullies and their victim; misunderstood relationships between parents and children. 

This book doesn’t shy away from the issues around a main character who is transgender and I really respect that. There’s discussions about all kinds of thtmes: clothing, acceptance, body image, coming out to parents, coming out to friends, bullying. I think this book has a place in every teenager’s life and I think it’s important. I don’t know why it’s stayed on my TBR for so long. If you haven’t picked it up yet you absolutely should. I want to give Leo a massive hug because I adore him.

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They Both Die at the End – Adam Silvera

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.

Imagine living in a world where you get a phone call to tell you that you’re going to die that same day. JUST HOLD THAT IN YOUR HEAD FOR A MINUTE. IMAGINE THAT. (I can’t, it’s too big an idea for my head, I don’t know where I would start, who I would see, what I would do. I think I’d be too overwhelmed and just cry for a day) This book explores a world where this is the reality. A reality for two teenagers who are told they’re going to die before midnight. 

We meet Rufus and Mateo, two very different boys, who have been given their call. They’ve got one more day on this earth. Mateo needs someone to help him along on his day otherwise he’ll just end up in his bedroom all day. He needs to tell his dad he loves him and his best friend. Rufus needs to say bye to his family, to the girl he loves. These two meet and what happens is a wonderful story about how sometimes you can meet the person you need most when you need them most.

The two boys grow together and change massively through the day. Rufus starts his story beating someone up and by the end his actions couldn’t be more gentle and caring. Rufus doesn’t push Mateo to do the things: he’s just there and him being there makes Mateo more brave. These boys do more for each other in one day than I think some people can do for each other in years. 

This book BROKE MY HEART. It tells us in the title what’s going to happen, but my god I was NOT prepared. Typical Adam Silvera breaking my heart. Again, you need to read this book. It’s just wonderful and it makes you think. 

There we go – two books, one day, LOT OF TEARS. 

RECOMMEND ME MORE BOOKS THAT WILL MAKE ME CRY.

I love a good cry!

S x 

BLOG TOUR: The Path Keeper

Hello lovelies!

Today I am hosting author N J Simmonds taking on Strong Girls in YA as part of the blog tour for her debut novel The Path Keeper.

“What if every coincidence was a tiny miracle? What if our life was already mapped out before birth? What if someone had the power to change the path we were destined to follow?
Ella hates her new life in London, she misses Spain and she’s struggling to get over her past until she meets Zac. He has always loved her but he isn’t meant to be part of Ella’s story. Not this time. Not ever. Little does she know that his secret is the one thing that will tear them apart and will force her to live in a world that no longer makes sense, a world more dangerous than she could ever imagine.
The first in a thrilling new YA fantasy series, The Path Keeper is a tale of passion and secrets, of first loves and second chances, and the invisible threads that bind us. Can love ever be stronger than fate?”

Let’s go!

STRONG GIRLS IN YA

We all love strong girl in books and on screen. From Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman, to Katniss and Zélie, ferocious young women kicking arse and putting bad men in their place.

Except, there’s more than one way to be strong, and it doesn’t always involve shedding blood and high kicks (as much as I’m a huge fan of both too).

The depiction of women in literature has come a long way in the last twenty years, and never more so than in the Young Adult and Fantasy genres. Paving the way for important conversations, and creating role models for young readers, YA has always been in the foreground of strong young characters and formidable girl MCs.

When I started writing The Path Keeper, I wanted a female protagonist who had a voice. A girl that acted like the young women I know, and the young woman I once was. I didn’t know quiet, sullen, polite girls when I was growing up – I knew teens who fought back, who said what they thought and who acted. Sometimes they said too much, sometimes they were too impulsive, but for me that was more real than a simpering girl who needed to be rescued. So that’s how Ella came about – and she’s not the only woman in the series who struggles with her place in society and questions who she is mentally, physically and emotionally.

Strong girl protagonists are everywhere in YA, but they may not be holding a bow and arrow or have lightning shooting out of their fingertips. Here is my list of amazing female writers and their strong YA girls who in turn have helped teens understand themselves, and the world, better.

Let’s start with emotional wellbeing and mental health. This subject means a lot to me as I have had my own degree of ups and downs, and when I was growing up it wasn’t acceptable to admit that you were struggling. I read these books now and wish I could go back to fifteen-year-old Natali and tell her she’s not weird or weak for feeling the way she does, she’s actually totally normal and not alone.

Olive in Holly Bourne’s Are We All Lemmings And Snowflakes is a girl on the edge attending a summer camp with a difference – every attendee is suffering from various mental health issues. The underlying theme of the book is about being kind, but not just to others – girls are used to being told that – but kind to ourselves too. Likewise, Violet in Jennifer Niven’s All The Bright Places meets her love interest Finch on top of a school bell tower as they contemplate suicide. These aren’t easy subjects to broach in a novel targeted for a younger audience, but the girls are strong through their vulnerability – showing the readers that they too have nothing to be ashamed of.

Talking of shame, it’s refreshing to see a growing rise of body-positive female characters in YA. Gone are the days of Bridget Jones counting calories and noting how many pounds she’s gained in her diary – enter Dumplin (Dumplin by Julie Murphy), Eleanor (Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell) and Leah (Leah on the Offbeat, Becky Albertalli). These girls, so strong and powerful they not only appear in the title of their books but also on the covers, never once apologise for who they are and what they look like – in fact, their weight isn’t even the main point of the storylines – there’s no old-hat trope of ‘I was overweight, got thin and got revenge on my bullies’ here. These girls didn’t have to change the way they looked to get what they wanted, how they look doesn’t even come into it, because we love them for who they are.

And it’s not just being seen or understood that makes strong girls in YA so important, it’s also about being heard. Vivian in Jennifer Mathieu’s Moxie fights the feminist fight at her school, and Starr in the award-wining The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas teaches readers about the importance of speaking out about what you believe in. Starr is under pressure from her community, friends and society to keep quiet and not rock the boat – but she goes on to do what teens in real life are finding the strength to do too. From Malala to the pupils of Sandie Hook Elementary School, social media and the press finally want to hear what teens have to say, and books like these are showing them how it’s done.

And finally, there are the young women who have been dealt a shitty life they never asked for. Sadie from Courtney Summer’s harrowing book Sadie is a force to be reckoned with, but she’s no traditional beauty – in fact she has a stutter and doesn’t care what she looks like. And Indigo in Patrice Lawrence’s Indigo Donut is a feisty London girl brought up in the care system. She’s tough and she’s suffered – but she doesn’t need to be rescued. And looking outside of contemporary fiction to teen girls in YA fantasy, Inej from Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows, and Sarai, in Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer are perfect examples of delicate girls who are tough as nails and forced to create a family out of the scraps left from their previous lives. Although they are forced to do bad they still remain good – because they don’t let what has happened to them define who they are.

As a proud feminist, as a YA writer, and as a mother to two ferocious, smart and bold daughters, it fills my heart to read books filled with strong girls, as well as having the opportunity to create my own unforgettable characters (wait until you meet Luci in the sequel Son of Secrets).

What makes a strong girl in YA? Not muscle, not money and not magic – what makes a strong girl is fortitude, grounding morals and all the other strong girls surrounding her. Goodbye damsels in distress and pretty girls who just want to be accepted – and hello girls like you, like me, and what the future deserves. Young women kicking arse and fighting the good fight with weapons made not from iron but from hearts, voices and unity.

Stay strong, girls. I see you.

Every blog tour in the blog has a letter. Collect them all to spell out the answer to this competition question: What does Zac get in the sequel SON OF SECRETS that’s very out of character? Prize info and entry details will be posted in The Glass House Glass magazine on release day 28 May 2019. Check out today’s letter and competition graphic below.

Check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour so you can enter the competition!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Bethany Rutter

No Big Deal: a book that means a very big deal!

21eba24b-9c6a-4906-86d0-bf42bfc98cae(gorgeous proof copy sent to me from the publishers… see final cover further down)

“Meet Emily Daly, a stylish, cute, intelligent and hilarious seventeen-year-old about to start her last year at school. Emily is also fat. She likes herself and her body. When she meets Joe at a house party, he instantly becomes The Crush of Her Life. Everything changes. At first he seems perfect. But as they spend more time together, doubts start to creep in.

With her mum trying new fad diets every week, and increasing pressure to change, Emily faces a constant battle to stay strong, be her true self and not change for anyone.”

No Big Deal tells the story of Emily (gorgeous, brilliant, wonderful), a teenager who is going through it all. She’s a girl who the world judges based on one thing: her weight. Emily doesn’t see her weight as a problem, but the rest of the world does. The rest of the world expects her to change because of who she is. Emily has this brilliantly unfaltering confidence in herself, but as you go through the book, as friendships fall apart, as boys come into the picture, as society wears her down, this unrelenting confidence risks changing forever.

I loved this book. Like hands down loved it.

Emily is an absolutely astounding MC. She’s stylish, she’s hilarious. Her perspective is absolutely mint. I laughed A LOT at some of the things she gets into because I’ve been there. Getting stuck in a dress in Topshop? God, I know that feeling so much. Doubted your worthiness because of your weight? Yep. Been there. I loved that she bossed life and was stylish and cool and brilliant. Her weight wasn’t the thing that defined her. She showed that it doesn’t need to. She had interests. She was a ROUNDED character. 

For so long, the fat character was the funny friend, or the one who never got the boy, but in this book, that’s not the case. This book shows that it doesn’t matter what size you are, you matter and that your story isn’t dependent on your weight. Your story is important: even if society doesn’t think so.

I’ve struggled to write this review, not because I didn’t love this book (because trust me, I loved this book an awful lot), but because every time I come to write this review it turns into something about my life… and y’all don’t need that.

This book is brilliant. It’s funny, it made me cry, it made me think, it made me want to shout: so many emotions. It’s interesting. It has a refreshing voice. It’s written in a brilliantly readable way. I’d love to think that Bethany Rutter will be around for MANY MANY BOOKS introducing us to a whole range of characters who are as badass, brilliant and body positive as Emily. This book, its character, its story is going to hit a chord with so many people. Whether you’re the fat friend or not, it’s going to matter. It’s so much more than a story about a fat girl: it’s a story about the importance of loving yourself and how much of a BLOODY HARDSHIP that can be at times. 

I think this book hit a note with me because I WAS Emily. I am Emily now. I’m on that journey of self acceptance, of loving myself for whoever and whatever I am that day. I’ve been there. I’ve doubted every single thing in my life because of the status of my weight. It’s just a thing.

PLUS. Look at this cover man. I proper love it. I can’t wait to have a finished copy in my midst. It’s going to have pride of place on my “favourites shelf”.

No Big Deal

My Goodreads review:

If I could swear, I would. This book is exceptional. I am/was Emily and there’s nothing more important that seeing yourself in a book. I hope every young girl gets a chance to read it. Loving yourself is SO IMPORTANT. This book made me laugh, cry and want to shout. Just bloody marvellous.

And because I loved it so much, I made a mood board. To me, this moodboard represents so much of what the book talks about. Style, fierce, brilliant women, loving yourself, owning life.

NBD mood board

Thank you so so much to Bethany and the brilliant humans of Macmillan Books/MyKindaBook for getting me a proof copy. I GENUINELY think this book is going to hit a chord with so many people.

Have you read No Big Deal?
Can you name another book that has a fully-realised fat MC?
Who is your favourite body positive person?

Talk to me! 

S x 

BLOG TOUR: All We Could Have Been

Hello! Happy Bank holiday! 

Today I have the utter joy of being part of the blog tour for T.E.Carter’s newest book: All We Could Have Been. I’m very lucky to be able to share an extract with you! You’ll find chapter 4 below – there is a bit of swearing, but we’re all adults around here! 

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“Five years ago, Lexie walked home from school after her older brother failed to pick her up. When she entered her house, her brother sat calmly, waiting for the police to come arrest him for the heinous crime he had just committed.

Treated like a criminal herself, Lexie now moves from school to school hiding who she is—who she’s related to. She struggles with loving her brother, the PTSD she now suffers from, and wanting to just live a normal life. But how can she be normal when she can’t even figure out how to just live? 

This is a powerful look at the assumptions we make about people. Lexie’s emotional journey to separate her brother’s horrific act from herself is stunning and heartbreaking. This is Lexie’s story and journey—not her brother’s—and it will stay with you long after you turn the last page.”

Chapter 4

Tuesdays are blue, which means my color-coding is less obvious to everyone, because jeans are blue. I like Tuesdays; they’re when I feel most like a real person.  It turns out I have third lunch with Ryan, which makes this Tuesday even better. He invites me to sit with his friends, and one of the hardest parts of each year passes just like that. Only 161 days to go.

“I am so pissed at Hawthorne,” a girl says as soon as she sits down at the lunch table. Dark hair, somewhat tall and thin, but still mostly average. Yet there’s something about her that draws my attention. Something about how sure she is of herself.

Two girls follow right behind her, flanking her across the table from where Ryan and I are sitting, and they wait for her to speak. The first girl drops her tray and stabs a straw into her orange-juice carton.

“Seriously? Fucking Romeo and Juliet? How ridiculously cliché can we get?” she asks.
“Shakespeare’s good for your portfolio,” Ryan says.
She rolls her eyes. “I have plenty of Shakespeare in my portfolio. What do you even think I do all summer? God.”
“Rory, Lexi,” Ryan says, flicking a hand between me and the angry girl. “Lexi’s new.”
“Hi,” Rory says. She drinks her whole carton of orange juice and crushes it. “Ryan, seriously. This sucks so bad.”

One of the other girls opens a bag of chips, but she pauses, waiting to see what Rory does. The greasy spud hovers in front of her open mouth. It’s not exactly fear. I can’t explain it, but it’s the kind of suspended animation that occurs when you can’t decide if your friend’s freak-out warrants putting your own basic needs, like hunger, on hold.

“It’s not always like this,” the other girl—the one sitting on Rory’s right—tells me. She’s prettier than Rory, but for some reason she fades beside her. “Drama’s just a big deal.”
“Oh yeah. Got it,” I say, pretending to understand.
“Sorry,” Rory mutters as she spears a french fry on her plastic fork. Chip Girl waits, and as soon as Rory puts the fry in her mouth, Chip Girl breathes a sigh of relief. Her stomach growls as if to confirm that hunger is, in fact, a bigger situation at the moment. The chip makes its final parabolic arc down her gullet.

“Look at it this way: You’re probably guaranteed Juliet,” Ryan says.
Rory shakes her head. “It’s not that, and you know it. She’s always going on and on about how ‘theater makes a difference.’ ” I imagine that Rory’s mocking lilt is nothing like how this Hawthorne person actually sounds, but everyone in our vicinity seems to be on board with it. “This was an opportunity. You know she’s just capitulating.”
“You need to lay off the SAT vocab,” Chip Girl says.
Rory glares at her but doesn’t respond. Instead, she turns back to Ryan, addressing me as well by accident. “All summer I was emailing her and she was totally into The Laramie Project or The Vagina Monologues. Something edgy. Something with a purpose. She swore she’d choose something that would matter. And we’re doing fucking Romeo and Juliet?”
“I don’t know,” I offer, which I probably shouldn’t. It’s not my place, and I don’t know the context. My head voice booms its countdown again, but I shush it and barrel on with my opinion, reason be damned. “It could work. I mean, prejudice, hate, judgment, assumptions. West Side Story tackles all the same key themes—”
Rory cuts me off. “West Side Story?”
“Yeah, I mean . . .” But the glare from the three girls across from me tells me to just keep my mouth shut.

“We don’t do musicals,” Ryan explains. “It’s a whole different kind of theater.”
“Sorry,” I mumble, and go back to my lunch. The peas are fluorescent. I wonder if they’re irradiated. That could be good. Everyone complains some more about Hawthorne, who I deduce is the teacher-director of the drama club, but I stop listening. Lunch is only twenty-seven minutes. Twenty-seven minutes of 161 days and it’s all over. I can survive this. They’re so wrapped up in the play that they don’t care about me or what I’m carrying. They won’t even notice me as long as I don’t talk about musicals.

“Hey, I’ll walk you to class,” Ryan says when the first bell rings to wrap up lunch.

Massive thank you to Hashtag Reads for inviting me to be part of this blog tour! This extract is sure to get people talking. Go treat yourself to this book now! And while you’re at it: check out the rest of the blog tour!

Tour Graphic NEW

S x 

The Words That Fly Between Us blog tour

Hello comrades! 

How are we all on this wonderful Tuesday morning? 

I have something very exciting to share with you all. I am here today to share an extract from the very brilliant ‘The Words That Fly Between Us‘ by Sarah Carroll. 

The Words That Fly Between Us

“Lucy’s father is a successful lawyer making a killing on the property market. She and her mother want for nothing. Nothing, that is, that can be bought. But money cannot buy Lucy the words she needs. The words to stand up to her bully of a father. The words to inspire her mother to do something about the family life that is suffocating them both. The words to become the person she wants to be.

Then Lucy finds something else: An escape route… 
Soon she discovers that every building on her row is connected, through the attic, to the next. As she explores the inner lives of those who live on her street, Lucy realises that she is not the only one to suffer in silence. She also sees ways she can help some, and ways to punish those that deserve it. But as the mighty fall, Lucy is forced to realise that while she can affect the lives of others from the safety of the attic, she will need to climb down to face her own fears.”

Words can be sticky. They nudge their way into the grooves of the tiles, and get wedged in tiny cracks in the plaster, and seep into the grain of the floorboards. And they stay there. If you look closely, you can see them. Our house is filling up with them. People don’t realize, though. They think you can just fling them around.

Chapter 1
I hate when Mum and Dad fight. Dad says they don’t, they have heated debates. Your mother gets heated while I debate. I’m with my sketch pad and pencil in the nook by the window in the living room. I’m not drawing anything in particular, really. 
‘Did I tell you, “Don’t get white wine”?’ Dad says from behind the double doors into the kitchen. Mum must have made a mistake with the order for his party tonight. 
‘Yes. You said you only wanted red—’

The higher Mum’s voice goes the flatter Dad’s stays. ‘Did I say, don’t get white.’ He’s doing that thing where he rolls the words around in his mouth before he spits each one out, just to be sure that there can be no mistake.
‘Here, look . . .’ She’s probably pointing to the piece of paper she’s carried around all week. It’s been opened and folded so many times it’s beginning to tear along the
creases. She’s right, there was no white wine on the list. ‘You wrote down—’
‘I’m aware I didn’t specify that you should buy white wine. I didn’t specify that we needed toilet paper either. Should I check the toilets?’
I know Mum’s searching Dad’s face right now, looking for just the right words. No more. No less. ‘Should I go out now . . . ?’
‘Oh, forget it, Alice.’
An intimate get-together, Dad had said. Starting around seven-thirty. Mr Reynolds will be dropping in. Mr Reynolds, who practically owns the bank. No fuss. Just enough hors d’oeuvres to keep the shareholders from dropping dead with hunger, so to speak. Four trays from Donnybrook Fair should do the trick. And champagne, of course. We’ll take one . . . No, wait, better make it two truck loads of the usual.

I realize I’m sketching Dad as he’ll look in a few hours, big smile, waving a fancy bottle around. We’re a champagne house, ha, ha. What’s that, you’re not a champagne drinker? Not to worry. Paula here will pop open a delicious little red. Oh, pardon me, it’s white wine you’re after… but… but… there is no white… Catastrophe. The whole night ruined. Dad’s head explodes. I don’t draw that.
‘You’ve had all week, Alice. I’ve so much on my plate, and I asked you to do one thing…’
The kitchen double doors open and I sit on my sketch pad so Dad doesn’t see. Wasting time drawing is bad enough. But I definitely don’t want to be caught drawing him. He’s already in his suit and a bright pink tie. His fun tie. He folds one door back so it’s flat against the wall. He sighs and shakes his head. Mum is standing behind him. She’s wearing her red silk dress. She’s had her hair curled and has her diamond earrings on too. After a while, she looks up. ‘Actually, I think there’s
a box of leftover white in the cellar.’ Dad acts like he hasn’t heard her, so she says, ‘I’ll go check.’

When she’s gone, Dad disappears through the kitchen too and I relax back against the wall. It’s got worse since he won that contract for The Old Mill last Christmas. It’s like underneath, things started turning bad, but from the outside you can’t see. Like an apple getting eaten up by a tiny worm. If you look closely you can see the
hole, but that’s all.

Take yesterday, for example, when Dad couldn’t find his golf shoes. Mum swore she left them on the washing machine, and she ran around looking for them while Dad
stood in the kitchen shaking his head and complaining that she was making him late for golf with potential investors. In the end, Dad found them in the conservatory. He
grabbed them and left without saying anything else because he was in too much of a hurry.

When he was gone, Mum went into the conservatory and stared at the spot where he had found them. She said, I was sure I left them on the washing machine around seventy times. Thing is, so was I. Because I saw her leave them there. I know it was only small, but things like that happen all the time since Dad moved into the big leagues. And the longer the development of The Old Mill is delayed, the more
stressed Dad gets.

It’s usually Mum that he gets annoyed with, but sometimes it’s me. And even when everything seems fine, you’re just waiting for that moment when the air sours. That’s why I hide my sketch pad. So he doesn’t give me that look – the same one he gets when he stands in dog dirt. Like I’m a disappointment. Or worse.

The side door to the front hall opens. Our cleaner, Paula, steps into the doorway and holds a champagne glass up to the light. She rubs at a smudge that’s not really there. She probably polished the wine bottles too. A great little cleaner, Dad calls her. Mum calls her a Duracell battery. Paula says, with her kids in school, she’s ready to do
something different. So she’s studying at night. But not tonight.
‘Have you eaten?’ she asks me.
‘Yup,’ I say.
She looks over the top of the glass at me. ‘Washed?’
‘Scrubbed,’ I say.
‘Good woman.’
She leans in a bit so she can see through the double doors.
‘What was that about?’ she whispers.
‘Mum didn’t buy white wine,’ I say.
Paula lifts an eyebrow. ‘He didn’t ask for white.’
‘I know,’ I say.
Now she lifts the other eyebrow. ‘And there’s loads
downstairs.’
‘I know,’ I say.

Mum comes back into the kitchen, carrying a box, walking like a robot because she’s trying not to trip in her high heels. ‘Found some!’ she calls and she tries to put the
box down carefully. But when she looks up, she sees Dad’s gone, and her words, and the box, drop with a thump onto the marble countertop. After a second, she claps her hands together and looks down at her dress to make sure it’s not smudged. I hop up to help but Paula says, ‘Stay where you are, honey. It’s covered in dust, you’ll ruin your clothes.’ She goes into the kitchen where Mum is saying, ‘Knew we had some.’
Dad comes in the other door behind them. He pulls a bottle out and turns it over to read the label. He sighs like his best friend, Oly, just died. ‘Best we can do, I suppose.’
Paula takes the bottle from his hand and whisks the box out of Dad’s way.

Dad comes back into the sitting room. He looks around at the platters and bottles and glasses on the tables. He plumps the cushions on the couch and runs a finger over the mantelpiece. He’s checking to see if anything is out of place. But there’s nothing wrong. Everything is gleaming. He notices me sitting in the window nook.
‘Ready?’ he asks.
I nod.
Then he says, ‘At least someone is.’

Who are his words for? They’re standing in the air like a glass of wine that someone was supposed to grab. But no one gets to them in time. They drop to the carpet and spread out in an invisible stain. That’s why the carpet’s so thick: it’s filled with words that no one wants.

‘You better go get ready.’ I look up. He’s talking to Mum, even though she’s been ready for over an hour. Her mouth drops open a bit. She looks down at her dress, then back at him. He breathes in deep and sucks up all the air in the room. Then he goes over to the couch. Reaches down behind it. Lifts something. It’s a box. He hands it to Mum.

Her hands are shaking a bit when she takes it. I’m leaning forward, as if that’s going to help me see better. All I can think is, Please let it be nice. Please. She lifts something out and the first thing I think is that it’s armour, like the chain mail stuff that knights used to wear. It’s not. It’s a dress. Silver and sparkly, in a really, really
expensive way.
‘Try it on. It should fit,’ Dad says.
‘Declan . . .’ Mum says. Her shoulders relax a bit. And the air rushes back into the room again. I breathe it in.
‘God, it’s just gorgeous,’ Mum says.
‘It would want to be. Cost nearly three grand,’ he says.
‘Three grand!’ I say. I didn’t mean to, the words just came out. Dad turns. But he laughs, too. He’s having fun now.
‘Why not?’ he says. ‘We have the money.’ He looks at both of us like our cat used to when he jumped in the window and plonked a dead bird down in front of us. ‘Mr Reynolds is going to be here,’ he says.
‘Thank you,’ Mum says and holds it up against her. She looks so happy that, for some reason, it makes me sad.
‘You. Are. Welcome,’ he says. Then he holds up his arm and shakes his wrist so his Rolex slides down. ‘Go on, go get changed.’
Mum rushes off. Dad surveys the room again and then goes into the hall. I hope the dress fits. And I hope Dad stays in a good mood.

If you’ve loved this extract, then I promise you, it only gets better. There’s so much I loved about this book. The characters, the interwoven lives, the secrets and lies. It’s great. The Words That Fly Between Us is out this month and I encourage each and every one of you to treat yourself! 

Massive thank you to Simon and Schuster for inviting me to host on the blog tour! Go check out the rest of the tour and get your hands on this brilliant book when it comes out! 

S x 

2019 releases…

Well hello… happy Friday to all you lovely people of the world!

Today I’m here to shout about 2019 releases I’m excited for. Some of my 2019 releases I’ve already read and I’m gonna give them a bit of love, but I’m just gonna shout about them all. 

Here goes nothing… 

Let’s start with 2019 releases I’ve read and LOVED:

2019 loves

Now some 2019 releases that I can’t WAIT to get my hands on:

2019 wants

Add to that list these books:

And Then I Turned Into a Mermaid – Laura Steven (Laura Steven is diving into the world of MG with a mermaid book… yes please!)
The Toll – Neal Shusterman (The 3rd book in the Scythe trilogy)

I could keep going… but I should probably go and do something productive!

What are some of your fave 2019 books?
What 2019 books can you not wait to get your hands on?
Are you still reading books from 2018? (yes haha I am!)

Let me know in the comments – I don’t need more books to add to my list, but I DO. 

S x 

BLOG TOUR: C.G.Drews

YOU GUYS ARE IN FOR A PROPER TREAT ON THIS HERE FIRST DAY OF APRIL. Don’t say I don’t spoil you. AND THIS IS NO APRIL FOOLS EITHER. 

As you all know I am a MASSIVE (and I mean MASSIVE) fan of the brilliant C.G.Drews’ books (as seen in my review of A Thousand Perfect Notes). When her new book The Boy Who Steals Houses was announced, the poor publishers received a VERY grovelly email asking if I could have a copy to review… and they were INCREDIBLE and sent me a copy. Well NOW GUYS IT’S ALMOST RELEASE TIME (in fact… THURSDAY IS THE BIG DAY). I consumed it in a matter of hours and I just adored it – you’ll find my review of the book here (clicky, click). 

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Then… astonishingly… I got an email from the publishers asking me if I’d like to kick off the blog tour and I WAS DELIGHTED. 

So here, I am, sharing with you a deleted scene from The Boy Who Steals Houses. This scene originally sat between Chapter 24 and 26, and don’t worry, it’s not too spoilery! 

So sit back, get a cup of tea and enjoy!! 

POTATOES ARE BETTER THAN ROMANCE

(Deleted Scene from The Boy Who Steals Houses)

His attention should be on the knife, on the whorls of potato peels slipping through his fingers. But Sam can’t stop worrying.

About summer ending.

About finally telling Moxie all his secrets.

About Avery boxing himself into a world of sharp corners and dangerous ledges and insisting he can take care of himself. Sam hasn’t checked on him in days. That selfishness twists his stomach like soured lemonade.

Moxie stands next to him as they peel potatoes together. The rest of the family are still out working at the building site, but Jeremy is home early for dinner duties. He’s seventeen, but definitely the best cook in the house. He clatters jars of herbs and butter onto the bench and then surveys them with a mournful expression.

“Why are you both so slow?” he says. “Are we having my infamous herb and garlic potatoes this year or at my funeral when I die at age ninety-four?”

Moxie throws peels at him. “Rude.” She nudges Sam with her hip. “Hey, you’re far away. Everything okay?”

Sam blinks. “I’m fine.” He needs to snap out of it or Moxie will press with questions he’s not ready to answer. He wants to keep this summer, this pretend honeyed paradise, for as long as possible.

Distraction comes in the form of Toby trotting into the kitchen with Jeremy’s phone clasped in sticky three-year-old hands. The De Lainey’s refer to the hour before dinner as the dreaded witching time, when the little ones will hurtle into hangry meltdowns if you even look at them wrong. Jeremy offered up his phone like a sacrificial goat so Toby would be occupied and they could get dinner on. The baby is licking the wall but seems fine. It’s just Toby now planted in the midst of the kitchen with the phone raised above his head as it plays tinny strains of music.

He jumps up and down. “Dance wiv me, Moxie!”

“Um, no.” Moxie stabs an apple. “I have standards.”

Toby forcefully crosses his arms and his bottom lip wobbles.

“If he starts crying,” Jeremy warns, “he will never stop and my fragile eardrums can’t take it. I’m not…not strong enough. Don’t be a monster, Moxie.” He flaps vaguely in Toby’s direction. “At least he put on Twice Burgundy. It’s a good band. Our little terror has taste.”

Toby tips back his head and wails, “Nobody will dance wiv me!”

“Quick put food in his mouth,” Moxie says. “That’ll distract him.”

But Toby’s already gone into a boneless heap, wail escalating.

Sam abandons the potatoes and slips over to the ensuing apocalypse. He’s really good at averting meltdowns. Lots of practice with Avery.

“Moxie is a terrible dancer.” Sam pats Toby’s back. “You don’t want her anyway.”

“Ouch,” says Jeremy.

Moxie raises an eyebrow. “I’m unsure whether to be grateful for that comment.”

Toby picks himself up, face damp, and then flings arms around Sam’s legs. “You dance!” He starts jumping up and down, clutching Sam’s leg with one arm and the phone with the other, which continues a song that tastes of violent summer storms.

Sam gives Moxie and Jeremy a helpless look. They smirk.

“Daaaance!” shrieks the tiny overlord.

Sam obeys.

He is not a dancer. His ears go hot as he tries to move his gangly limbs in some sort of rhythm. His undone shoelaces flick against the floor and he has no idea what he’s doing. But Toby beams and begins what looks like a demon-possessed-chicken-polka.

Moxie cracks up so hard she starts dropping potatoes.

“Dance! Dance!” Toby shouts.

“Yeah, Moxie. Dance, dance.” Sam snatches her hand and pulls her into a spin, because if he’s going to suffer, so is she.

Moxie is laughing too hard to protest. But when she finally gets her breath, she rests a palm against Sam’s chest. “Fine.” Her eyes are bright as a dare. “But this is how you dance.”

And suddenly they’re not messing around to good music on bad speakers. They’re truly dancing.

Their hearts pound and bodies brush together. Moxie’s arms twirl above her head and Sam’s feet skid across the floorboards. There’s a thump as Jeremy jumps into the middle, proving the demon-possessed-chicken-polka style is a disturbing De Lainey family trait.

They are so happy in that moment, so full of wild abandon, they could have outshone the sun.

They are also so distracted, by music and their own fierce delight, that they don’t hear the front door opening as Mr. De Lainey and Jack walk in.

The impromptu dance party ends with a shriek from Moxie and all three of them drop down behind the kitchen benches. Toby just squeals in delight at this new turn of the game.

“I’m pretty sure they saw us,” Sam says, breathing hard.

Moxie covers her face. “Bury me.”

Jeremy pats her shoulder. “Jack’s never going to let this go. We might as well leave the country.”

On cue, Jack starts crowing while kicking off his work boots. “What was that delightful sight?”

“I don’t know, Jack.” Mr. De Lainey’s voice is exaggeratedly loud. “Did you see several electrocuted noodles flailing in my kitchen?”

“It’s almost like they are sooo embarrassed,” Jack says. “I wonder why.”

“These embarrassed noodles are making you dinner,” Jeremy shouts, still safe behind the cupboards. “Don’t criticise us!”

“We did it for the three-year-old,” Moxie adds.

“Please forget you ever saw that,” Sam says.

Jeremy and Moxie look at him.

They burst out laughing.

Moxie laughs so hard she tips over into Sam’s lap, which he didn’t expect. But he doesn’t flinch. Instead he has a perfectly acceptable reason to gently slip arms around her. It doesn’t mean anything. Totally not.

Mr. De Lainey and Jack peer over the bench.

“They’re so freaking cute,” Jack says.

Mr. De Lainey’s voice is mild as always. “I’m off to shower, but try to get dinner on soon. Goodbye, embarrassed noodles.”

The embarrassed noodles on the floor make distressed sounds as Mr. De Lainey heads for the stairs.

Jack is still smirking as he hauls himself up on the bench, shedding sawdust and grime. He plucks a peeled potato off the stack and bites it.

Jeremy picks himself off the floor and looks disgusted at his twin. “You are an animal. Alright, up children.” He nudges Moxie in the ribs with his toe. “Be useful.”

Moxie is still buried in Sam’s lap. “I can’t show my face again.”

“Make her movie, Sammy,” Jeremy says.

Sam carefully sweeps Moxie’s dark chocolate curls away from her ear. His whisper is sweet gold and Moxie stifles a giggle as she pushes off him and they both get to their feet.

Jeremy watches with a dubious expression. “Hm, alright, wait. What did you say to her? Something racy? Because if so, I will have to beat someone with a potato masher. Probably myself. Because ew.”

Moxie flounces over to the pantry for more potatoes. “None of your business, Jeremy.”

Jeremy exchanges a hurt expression with Jack who helpfully offers him the potato masher.

Sam slips back to the pile of potatoes, tips of his ears still red. He tries to keep his voice breezy as he says, “Nothing. I just said she is a cute electrocuted noodle.”

“Oh but this is an adorable development,” Jeremy says with an eyebrow wiggle. “Calling each other cute. My, my. Whatever is next? True LOVE.”

Sam fumbles for potatoes, knocks them on the floor, feels his ears go volcanic red and then promptly wishes for death. He shouldn’t have said cute. He was just copying what Jack said. But OK, it sounded flirty from him. He’s not flirting. He wouldn’t…he…

Help.

“Like, I said, so adorable,” Jeremy says. “Look at your little blush! Aw!”

Moxie slams more potatoes into the sink and scowls at her older brother. “What would you know about love, dumbass? Your only love life is you and that potato.”

Jeremy caresses a potato gently. “Potatoes are better than boyfriends anyway.”

“Nobody thinks that,” says Moxie.

Jack stops eating his gross raw potato and points the masher at Sam. “Right, you. Potatoes or Moxie?”

“Man, don’t ask me things like that.” Sam chases the potatoes he dropped and it’s only when he’s set them back on the bench that he notices Jeremy choking on silent laughter and Moxie’s expression is brittle.

“You better say something romantic,” Jeremy says, gasping, “to make up for that.”

Sam panics. “Um, I mean, they’re on the same level. Equal appreciation.”

“That was not romantic,” Moxie snaps.

“What are you saying? It was super romantic.”

“Sam, no.”

Jeremy loops an arm around both their necks and drags them into an uncomfortable hug. Moxie fights. Sam gets far too close to Jeremy’s armpit.

“Let’s just make a unanimous decision,” Jeremy says grandly. “Potatoes are better than romance.”

Sam and Moxie shove him off before he tries to kiss their cheeks. Moxie gives her brother a foul look and then she and Sam go back to peeling potatoes. Dinner is going to be so, so late. Sam takes a careful step closer to Moxie so their arms brush. She doesn’t move away. He passes her a potato so their fingers catch for a second.

“Are you trying to romance me, young man?” she says.

“You’re my favourite potato,” he whispers.

She throws a potato peel at him. A smile plays on her lips and she doesn’t look away from him for a long time.

A massive massive thank you to the publishers and for C.G. Drews for sharing this with us! I just adore it! I WANT MORE FROM THESE GUYS. 

If you’re intrigued then PLEASE GO OUT AND BUY THE BOOK. It is so incredibly wonderful. I promise you, you will love it… I proper did. 

TBWSH Blog Tour

S x

BOOK BLOG: Laura Steven

A Girl Called Shameless: shamelessly loud, brave and real.

shameless

“It’s been two months since a leaked explicit photo got Izzy involved in a political sex scandal – and the aftershock is far from over. The Bitches Bite Back movement is gathering momentum as a forum for teenage feminists, and when a girl at another school has a sex tape shared online, once again Izzy leads the charge against the slut-shamer. This time she wants to change the state law on revenge porn. 
Izzy and her best friend Ajita are as hilarious as ever, using comedy to fight back against whatever the world throws at them, but Izzy is still reeling from her slut-shaming ordeal, feeling angry beyond belief and wondering – can they really make a change?”

A Girl Called Shameless sees us thrown back into the world of Izzy O’Neill (wonderful, brilliant, hilarious, sassy, smart Izzy O’Neill) and the ups and downs of being a girl who has been publicly slut-shamed on the internet. (If you’ve not read The Exact Opposite of Okay then you REALLY need to… it’s just marvellous. My review is here if you’ve been living under a rock for the past year!)

A Girl Called Shameless opens brilliantly with Izzy’s trademark sense of humour and narrative voice telling us about what happened to her over the past few months. A VERY BLOODY CLEVER first chapter… brilliant to have that reminder of everything that went down in book 1 without just being a chapter for chapter’s sake! I was cackling hard by page 2. I forgot how much I loved being in the world of Izzy. She’s definitely one of my favourite voices of the past few years. (Seriously, if you’ve not got on the Izzy O’Neill bus yet, get on… you will NOT regret it!)

In this book, we see Izzy’s past experience of being publicly shamed as a thing that she has to deal with again, when another girl at her school has a sex tape shared online. Izzy unwillingly becomes somewhat of an “expert” and has a lot of her buried emotions brought back up to the surface… as well as a few old familiar faces resurfacing. 

As well as dealing with all of this at school, Izzy is of course dealing with being a teenager, friendship, things taking off with her screenwriting and her relationship. That’s a lot for a few people to cope with… never mind just one! 

I can honestly say that this book was one of the ones I’ve just been sitting waiting for, and it did not disappoint. 

I loved watching Izzy embrace her power and, along with some incredible young women, use that power for good. Making sure her voice, and the voice of others, is heard is important to Izzy and in this book she makes it happen. There’s an incredible build up to a very special day at the end of the book and it’s TOTALLY worth it. Watching a brilliant bunch of young women club their resources, their minds, their hearts and their friendship to make something happen is always brilliant, and when it’s something which is building up women and working for social change makes it even more special. 

We see the return of some familiar faces to support (and hinder) Izzy in her quest to basically take over the world. Ajita is back to be the brilliant best friend that she always has been. I love a book that celebrates female friendship and portrays it in a positive light, so seeing Izzy and Ajita back and being each other’s constant made me so happy! Brilliant Betty is of course back, being wonderful as always. I adore Betty and Izzy’s relationship. Betty turns out to be a bit of a dark horse in this book and there’s MANY lol-tastic moments with her in Shameless. I would love a Betty spin off! I wanna know more about her back story. 

Of course, there’s some men in Izzy’s life… some who I love and some who I think should just be pushed into a well. I’ll start with my fave of all the boys: Carson. Oh Carson. I just want my own Carson please. He’s so so lush. I just can’t think of him and not get total heart eyes. There’s quite an incredible scene towards the end of the book that made me BAWL. I really appreciate when boyfriends are written to be supportive and real (Laura does this so brilliantly, just like Sara Barnard). I mean he’s not perfect, but he has his own crap going on. On the other side of the coin, fan fave (lol) Danny is back to be “nice guy”. Danny can be pushed down a well as far as I’m concerned. He’s such a letch. He doesn’t get any more words than those. 

I loved that we saw more of Izzy’s life in this book. This book doesn’t shy away from the fact that Izzy and Betty aren’t swimming in money. Izzy talks a lot about having to get a job to be able to afford putting the heating on. We see Izzy following her dreams and watch them fall apart a little at one point. We see her struggles and her successes and I think that’s so good to read – no one’s life is ALL successes. 

I have many many more thoughts about this book, but they’re all jumbled still – in that glorious book hangover way. I just think Laura Steven has written 2 incredibly moving, captivating, hilarious and (as cliche as this sounds) important books. These 2 books are brilliantly empowering. After reading Shameless, all I wanted to do was to stand up and shout about all of the injustices I see in my world. I wish Izzy were real cause I’d love to be her friend (although I’m def not cool enough to be her friend haha!)

My goodreads review reads:

Man. What a book. What a story. What a young lady Izzy O’Neill is. I just adore her. This book makes me want to make a stand about everything I see wrong with the world. I love the characters, the messages, the flaws, the worry, the relationships. I CACKLED SO SO MUCH. Just incredible.

I was so inspired after reading this book that I also made a little moodboard! I hope you enjoy!

Shameless moodboard

S x

BOOK BLOG: Alice Broadway

Scar: a book that will leave an impression on ALL of your emotions

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“INK taught Leora that all was not what it seems on the surface. 
SPARK taught her that there are two sides to every story. 
Now Leora has had enough of lessons – she wants to make her own story.”

Scar sees the incredible Ink trilogy come to a close… and I was not ready. AT ALL. If you’re new to the Alice Broadway game then you need to catch up… my review for Ink can be found here, and my review for Spark here

Scar sees Leora taking on the final chapter of her current story. She’s been through a lot in the first two books and now she’s having to face some new scary things! Through Scar we see what happens when she realises she can stand up for herself, the things she believes in and finds herself dealing with some HORRIBLE people.

This book made me emotional. There are SO MANY THINGS THAT HAPPEN that I was crying a lot of the time. I was angry a lot of the time. I was suspicious and torn. I was comforted. I don’t want to be too spoiler-y in this review because you guys need to read this book: it is exceptional. Alice Broadway is a master of storytelling. 

Just as the other 2 books have dealt with storytelling, Scar has a big focus on storytelling. Leora is introduced to Mel (the storyteller of her village) and learns a lot about the power of stories and how stories can have many meanings. Leora has seen the world on both sides of the coins (she’s lived with the Blanks and the Marked people) and she teaches the people around her that every story has 2 sides. I loved watching Leora learn, but also teach, throughout the book. The infusion of the folk stories into this trilogy has been one of the most incredible things. The stories of the two sisters have been consistent throughout the books and watching that explored again in this book was incredible. The two sisters and their story is where this whole division of the people started, so it’s only fitting that their story has an important part. 

There’s some PROPER THINGS that happen in this book. I CAN’T TELL YOU WHAT THEY ARE CAUSE SPOILERS BUT OMG. There was one page (p227 for those who own the book) where I was GENUINELY shocked. I had to put my book down and text my friend to be like “OMG WHAT IS GOING ON?”. I can’t wait to see everyone else freak out about this particular scene. I mean… there’s one particular character, a returning face, a surprise returning face who is a total PIECE OF WORK. I think I could write a whole blog post about why he is THE WORST, but he doesn’t actually deserve it. Having this character back and seeing his narcissism in Scar was FASCINATING. He clearly has a bit of a god complex… and it shows. He does some TERRIBLE things in this book. 

I loved being back in Leora’s world. I think it’s one of the most wonderful worlds that I’ve read recently. I love the idea behind it all. I loved being back around Leora’s people. Our girl, Leora, is just brilliant. She’s real. She’s definitely flawed. She’s brave. She’s bold. She learns in Scar that she needs to start standing up for herself, so she can be in control of her own story… rather than giving the control to the people around her. You’re only going to be remembered if you do something that’s worth remembering. 

Yet another shout out here to Obel. I was SO GLAD to see him back. The scenes between him and Leora were so filled with compassion and love and kindness and gentleness. 

I’m so sad that we’ve got to the end of Leora’s tale, but I can’t wait to see what Alice Broadway does next. She writes such incredible stories. There’s so many moments of juxtaposition. There’s love vs hatred; hard vs soft; the fear of forgetting vs the need to remember; routine vs change; embracing vs shunning. I loved all of these. 

I have so much more to talk about… but I need people to read this book before I can talk about it because I would HATE to spoil it for you all! It’s out in April SO GO GO GO. But also, preorder it because it’s SO WORTH IT. (You can preorder on all of the places!!)

My goodreads review:

I’ve waited SO LONG for this book. And my god it did not disappoint. There are scenes of GENUINE shock. I cried at the end. I hated Longsight SO MUCH. This book rounds off the trilogy so well and I’m so proud of how far Leora came. There’s SO MUCH about this story I can’t wait to shout about.

This week is the week of inspired moodboard, so here is my Scar inspired moodboard:

scar moodboard

A massive thank you to the wonderful humans of Scholastic for sending me a copy to review… you guys are the best!

S x 

BOOK BLOG: Queen Mel

(hello, it’s me, I suggest you go grab yourself a cup of tea and a few biscuits if you’re here for the long run! I could be here a while… are you sitting comfortably? Then I guess we can begin!)

Song of Sorrow: SO BLOODY GOOD.

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“Sorrow Ventaxis has won the election, and in the process lost everything…
Governing under the sinister control of Vespus Corrigan, and isolated from her friends, Sorrow must to find a way to free herself from his web and save her people. But Vespus has no plans to let her go, and he isn’t the only enemy Sorrow faces as the curse of her name threatens to destroy her and everything she’s fought for.”

For anyone who is new around here (hello, introduce yourself to me, I’m quite friendly), I would just like to say now that I am one of the biggest Melinda Salisbury fans and this review will definitely reflect that. So if you’re not interested in that, then please check out something else on my blog…

If you’re still reading, then hello, welcome to Steph loved Song of Sorrow so much that it took her a long time to write this review and appreciates your patience and understanding. If you fancy reading my review of State of Sorrow, check it out here!

So, Song of Sorrow (let’s call it Song because that’s fewer words to read and type) continues on from where State of Sorrow leaves off. Sorrow Ventaxis is living her life, ruling her country after her dad died and she fought to be the ruler. She’s having to deal with some pretty shitty politics and, in turn, politicans. She has friends, but she definitely has enemies. Then let’s not forget to mention there are people who she doesn’t really KNOW/isn’t sure where they stand on the old love/loathe scale. Song follows Sorrow into the world of what happens once she’s got to being the ruler and the escapades that ensue with friends, family, secrets, lies, manipulation, love, hate and a little bit of magic. 

I’m going to try and make this review as un-spoilery as possible, but be warned, I have feelings that I need to talk about! My notes, which normally are a few bullet points, is a whole page, FILLED with things to talk about. If you wanna see my mood board I created for Song of Sorrow, go check it out here. Just look at my happy little face man when I received the book. 

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The first thing I want to say is Song of Sorrow was everything I wanted, many things I didn’t expect, but quintessential Queen Mel brilliance. When I started reading, I expected there to be much death, violence, horror and I was VERY scared for some of my absolute faves. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll go through this book and BE scared for our woman of the moment, Sorrow, but there’s so much more to this book that I didn’t expect. BUT I LOVED THAT. I loved that I couldn’t predict what was going to happen next. I was constantly surprised. I read the entire book on the edge of my seat and on the verge of MANY emotions. There’s moments of light and dark. There’s learning and growing. There’s a lot of love surrounded by moments of hatred and despair. There’s horrible actions paired with acts of compassion and love. This book manages to be hard and soft at the same time and I loved it. 

While I’m talking emotions… let’s just talk about them. I felt THEM ALL. I had SO SO many OMG moments. I laughed; I was shocked; I cried; I was angry; I was scared; I was relieved. There’s a few pages where you go from sheer shock and fear to complete and utter relief. You have no idea how much my heart was appeased when things went from TERRIBLE to brilliant (if you’ve read the book, you’ll know EXACTLY the bit I mean). I was so genuinely terrified for Sorrow at one point that when you have the reveal, I wanted to cry and/or punch someone with relief. Poor Sorrow goes through so much in this book – I definitely felt like I was going through it with her! There’s some proper lush moments of humour though too. One familiar returning face managed to bring a lot of light and laughter into the book (more on him later).

You may be in the familiar world of Sorrow’s life, but there is SO MUCH MORE in this second book. You get to follow Sorrow around on her travels to visit all of her worlds to see the people of the land. You learn so much more about the make up of the world and the world is just build up so much more from book 1. Mel writes such brilliantly vivid worlds that I didn’t think it was possible to understand the world more from book 1, but I loved that I got to know more about the world in Song. If you’re looking for an author who GENUINELY immerses you in their worlds, then look no further than Melinda Salisbury. Her worlds are so gorgeous, so vivid and so well described that you could quite happily walk along the road in your head and know exactly what was coming next and what was around you. 

So you’re in the familiar world and of course there are familiar faces left, right and centre. We have our woman of the moment, Sorrow, who is being Sorrow – stubborn, determined, brilliant, sassy, terrified, brave Sorrow. I love her so much. She grows a lot in Song. Just as Twylla did through The Sin Eater’s Daughter trilogy, Sorrow goes on an incredible journey learning a lot about herself and making decisions which change her life. She finds out some things about herself in this second book and I appreciated it a lot (I mean, Sorrow is a bookworm which I DIG). She obviously continues to push people away to try and keep them safe, which in reality doesn’t work. Oh Sorrow. You are a disaster, but we love you.

Sorrow is very lucky (and in some cases not so lucky) to have some recurring characters in her life. All of who I love (even when I think they’re the absolute worst). Irris continues to be that best friend that Sorrow needs. Irris is one of my favourite best friends that you have in books. She’s just very constant and Sorrow needs a constant. I have a lot of love for Irris. Vespus returns to wreak havoc all over the world. God, I hate that man. SO MUCH. (My notes just say ‘Vespus tho’)  I get that he has a motive that he THINKS is the best thing for his country… but NO. I don’t appreciate you blackmailing my girl. Charon continues to be that father figure that Sorrow has always needed. I forgot how much I adored Charon from book 1, so when he returned for this book, I was DELIGHTED. Rasmus is back and I LOVED the resolution for the Rasmus/Sorrow relationship that happens. I think Rasmus is a brilliant representation of the fact that you CAN be friends with people who have meant a lot to you. Mael is still around and still creating unanswered questions for Sorrow (and me… Mel, I’m looking at you!)

GUYS. LUVIAN THO. It makes me so sad that I can’t be spoilery in this review… but I really don’t want to spoil it for you. Luvian has SUCH A GOOD BOOK. He’s such a bloody brilliant brilliant thing for Sorrow. He’s funny, charming, smart, sexy, snarky. There are some incredibly touching moments between Luvian and Sorrow in Song and I just want a book of Luvian/Sorrow please. I loved the exploration of Luvian’s family and his relationship with Sorrow in this book. The ending of State of Sorrow leaves their relationship in a very precarious place, so when I found that it was going to be explored more in Song I was DELIGHTED. I had waited A LONG TIME to get more Luvian Fen in my life… and this book did NOT let me down. (Please, if you love Luvian as much as me, I need you to talk to me. I want to start a Luvian Fen fan club)

There’s also some brilliant new additions to Sorrow’s world that enrich it a lot. So we find out more about Luvian’s family of one of the best characters to come out of Sorrow’s world. (I won’t spoil HOW we come about being with Luvian’s family because that’s one of my FAVE things about this book and SPOILERZ). We meet his mam, Beata, who I was TERRIFIED of initially. She’s TERRIFYING. She’s like this brilliant, scary, powerful Mama Bear. Poor Sorrow when she meets this terrifying mama bear… you’ll see she’s not so bad though. We find more about Luvian’s family in general through the book, but another of his family we see more of is his brother, Arkady. Guys, he’s like a brickhouse. I just imagine him being built like a proper house and scary af. He’s a PROPER softie though. He has a lovely little arc with another of our familiar friends and I LOVED IT. Outside of Luvian’s family, we meet Vespus’ new wife Tassus. GUYS JUST NO. This woman terrified me. She’s got a power that just makes me VERY scared. She’s NOT OK. She’s PERFECT for Vespus’ plans however. We all know what a terrible human he is. (My notes for Tassus just say “creepy wife” which I think are a perfcect description of her!)

I may have finished this book a few weeks ago but I am still not quite over it. The way in which this book ended just blew my mind. I think it’s just the perfect ending. I love that Sorrow has taken control of her life. She’s empowered and doing something for her, without the shadow of the rest of the world hanging over her. There’s a LOT that happens in the last few chapters and it’s a lot to process. There’s a particular bit when shit goes down in the castle and my god… it was INTENSE. A fitting end for some of the characters however. I still have some unanswered questions, but I think I need to put those questions to bed. As Mel told me, I know what I need to know. 

The book hangover is real! I can’t wait to see what’s next from Mel. I know that Sorrow’s story is over, but I just need more. I don’t care who I’m introduced to next. I know it’ll be brilliant. I’m very sad this duology is over; I grew very fond of Sorrow and her world. I will definitely be finding myself rereading these books though (for Luvian more than anything!).

A massive massive thank you to Scholastic for sending me an early copy of this book, and to Mel for having her amazing launch on a Saturday so I was able to go along and celebrate this book with her! 

If you want to buy this book, which you probably should, it’s available now on Amazon, Waterstones (if you buy it on/at Waterstones, you may even get the very fancy sprayed edges version like the one below) and every other book selling place. 

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Now, I need to go and have a lie down. I’m sure you do too.

S x