BOOKBLOG: Peadar Ó Guilín

The Call: dark, gritty, brutal. Dystopian done proper.

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“Imagine a world where you might disappear any minute, only to find yourself alone in a grey sickly land, with more horrors in it than you would ever wish to know about. And then you hear a horn and you know that whoever lives in this hell has got your scent and the hunt has already begun.

Could you survive the Call?”

Everyone had been telling me to read The Call FOREVER and I never quite got round to it, but once I had a copy (thanks Waterstones Newcastle) I had to read it then and there, and MY GOD. What a book

The Call is the story of Nessa, a young girl with a disability, who lives in a world where students are taken away and have these so called three minutes to save their lives; to outrun the enemies. The book starts with Nessa hearing about the loss of her brother to The Call and her parents worrying for Nessa, thinking that, due to her disability, there is no way she would survive ‘the call’ if it ever came for her. The story then follows Nessa through schooling in Ireland where they learn to fight, survive and ultimately prepare themselves for ‘the call’. 

There was so much I loved about this book. I went through a massive ‘dystopian phase’ a year or 2 ago and there is so much dystopian fiction out there that gems like this can get totally lost. I am so glad I came across it now, because it blew me away. The story is so dark, so gritty and there’s some pretty grim things that happen in this story but I LOVED IT. Sometimes a bit of dark, gritty fiction is what I need. Alongside the incredible story there were some pretty incredible characters, which for me totally made the book even better. Nessa, the main character in the story, is badass, brave and never makes her disability an excuse. She’s brazen and bold. Her training isn’t easy, but she gives it her all, never giving up when it gets too hard. She deals with some pretty horrible students, watching other students disappear, love and potential loss, all while being a good friend and a fighter. The other students in the book are so effortlessly diverse: in both sexuality and race. I had a particular soft spot for her love interest in the story. I don’t know what it was about him, but he reminded me a bit of Peeta from Hunger Games. 

I can’t recommend this book enough. I regret waiting so long to read it. AND Paedar is LOVELY on Twitter, go follow him. Read this. I would LOVE to chat about it!

My Goodreads review:

Absolutely brilliant. Genuinely grim and gritty. I liked Nessa straight away. So much brutality and darkness, but interesting and unique. Bloody loved it.

Have you read The Call?
What was it that you loved most about it?
Can you recommend any books similar?

Let me know on twitter (@eenalol) or in the comments, I need some more dark dystopian fiction in my life! 

S x

BOOKBLOG: Catherine Barter

Troublemakers: politically minded, sibling focused deliciousness

Troublemakers(I took this at 7am, whilst on a residential with my class. Even when we’re away, I’ll read!)

“Fifteen-year-old Alena never really knew her political activist mother, who died when she was a baby. She has grown up with her older half-brother Danny and his boyfriend Nick in the east end of London. Now the area is threatened by a bomber who has been leaving explosive devices in supermarkets. It is only a matter of time before a bomb goes off. Against this increasingly fearful backdrop, Alena seeks to discover more about her past, while Danny takes a job working for a controversial politician. As her family life implodes, and the threat to Londoners mounts, Alena starts getting into trouble. Then she does something truly rebellious.”

Troublemakers is the story of Alena, who is figuring the world out. She’s 15, she’s discovering the world as it is, she wants to be part of it, she wants to make her stamp on the world. Her older brother Danny and his partner Nick are her life. She lives with them, Danny took on guardianship of Alena when her mum died. Their relationship (both sibling and parental) intrigued me immensely throughout the story. I love a well written, believable sibling relationship – I have a brilliant relationship with my brother, so seeing other positive brother/sister relationships makes my heart so happy. She has a brilliant relationship with Nick too – he’s a wonderful character, sometimes playing middle man between the warring siblings. There’s parts of this story where my heart was breaking for Danny and Nick. I really liked their relationship. 

I’m not normally one to pick up a political book, but whilst this deals with politics, it’s not in your face. It’s not the only thing about this book. It is a brilliant book in the current climate and it touched on some pretty important things. I won’t spoil it for you but this is a brilliant story. It’s very character centric which I adored. There’s times when you’ll want to punch the characters, hug them, argue with them: books like this are my favourites. I like to feel part of their lives. Not a bystander.

Danny and Alena do not see eye to eye in this. There are so many things they dispute over. One of the main areas of dispute is Alena’s need to hunt out one of her mum’s best friends. Danny HATES this idea. It causes a lot of tension between the siblings. They fall out. They argue. They ignore each other. Alena goes against her brother’s wishes. She rebels. There’s some lovely moments between them where they both soften to each other because they eventually see what the other needs. Danny does things too, gets a job, that Alena doesn’t like either. They both make mistakes; they both rebel against each other to try and find their identity

This book, in the end, filled my heart with joy. 

My Goodreads review reads:

“Fantastic. Absolutely loved it. Totally apt for today’s world. A loving, conflicted sibling relationship. A beautiful relationship. A complicated, yet simple political message. Character centric and I adored it.”

Thank you to Andersen Press for sending me a copy! 

Have you read Troublemakers?
What’s your take on political books?
Do you have a favourite sibling relationship in fiction?

Let me know in the comments or on twitter! I need more brother/sister fictional relationships in my life!

S x

BOOKBLOG: Sylvia Bishop

The Bookshop Girl: Magical, mysterious and delightful

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“This story is about a little girl named Property Jones, so-called because she was left in the lost property cupboard of a bookshop when she was five years old. Property loves living in the bookshop, but she has a whopper of a secret… she can’t actually read! So Property doesn’t see the newspaper article announcing the chance to win the Montgomery Book Emporium, the biggest and most magnificent bookshop in the world! When her family win the competition, Property finds herself moving to the Emporium, a magical place filled with floor upon floor of books and a very bad-tempered cat. But all is not at it seems at the Emporium and soon Property Jones finds herself in a whole heap of trouble”

I’d seen The Bookshop Girl floating around on Twitter and in bookshops and I knew it would be a book that I’d love. Just look at that amazing cover! Books, cats and a bookshop… what more do I need? 

The Bookshop Girl tells the story of Property Jones and her family who win a raffle in which they get to run the magical Montgomery Book Emporium. From their little bookshop to this magical new bookshop, Property and her family can’t believe it! I loved this book from the introduction – the first little bit tells you the story of how Property came to be called Property and the story of how her life began. There’s her brother and her mam, the wonderfully magical Montgomery (the owner of the aforementioned magical book emporium), a weird cat called the Gunther and evil Eliot Pink. This story tells a brilliant tale of adventure, rescue and the magic of books and bookshops. I would love to visit the Montgomery Book Emporium (just as much as I’d like to visit the Jones’ bookshop, it sounds like a perfect bookshop to sit and read for hours!)

This book is GORGEOUS. I absolutely adored it. I can’t wait to give it to my kids at school. I know a fair few children who this will appeal to totally. It’s perfect for Year 3/4 readers. There’s quite a lot of things to do with this book and I think it would make a perfect class novel. I’m tempted to buy another copy, to keep for when I’m a teacher!

My Goodreads review:

A brilliant tale filled with mystery, magic and delight. I devoured this book quickly and I love the name Property. From the first but of the book to the very end, you have a story that will delight kids. I loved this so much!

Thank you so much to the wonderful people at Scholastic for sending me a copy!

Have you read The Bookshop Girl?
What did you think of Property?
Would you like to live in a bookshop?

Tweet me! Comment! Send me answers on a postcard! 

S x

School days: dealing with behaviour!

Behaviour is a MASSIVE thing in schools and it can be as small and as irritating as low level disruptions, to massive scary things like fights and bullying. It all affects the way classrooms work, how kids feel and the dynamics of a room. We all know, even those who aren’t teachers, that one person can change the entire dynamic of a room. All teachers will have that 1 child, that group of kids who change the entire mood of a classroom but it’s not always bad. Dealing with behaviour is one of those crucial things to make a classroom run smoothly.

Within the last year we had a total overhaul of our behaviour system, not for a specific reason but just because it was felt that we needed continuity across the classes and that this continuity would help massively. On the whole it is helping!

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We follow the ‘Its Good To Be Green’ system – kind of like traffic lights. Green – you’re good to go, Yellow – you have to be careful and Red – you’re in danger. Each classrom has a chart like the one above and each child has their own card.

Alongside the chart we have 5 rules which over arches many things in school and they are:

Be kind and treat everyone like you want to be treated
Listen with respect
Keep yourself and others safe
Be truthful
Take care of everything in our school – inside and out

When this new behaviour system was being created, we did in depth consultations with parents, children, teachers and governors and got everyone’s ideas. Once it was all collated these were the rules that we came up with. We have found that implementing these rules has helped massively. 
If children break 1 of the rules they get a “verbal warning” – this is shown by turning their card on its side. Should the child continue to break the rule or a different rule they then receive a yellow card (in which they replace their green card with a yellow card). If the child continues to break rules they then receive a red card – if children receive a red card a text is sent to their parents and they miss their next playtime. Should a child do something EXCEPTIONALbehaviour wise, not work wise – they can be awarded a platinum card – a text is sent to their parents and they receive a special award during achievement assembly. These cards have an impact on a class’ overall points for the week and these are all recorded in the class behaviour book. There are special rewards at lunchtime – staff can give out VIP passes to children who have behaved well at lunchtime, these children will then get to take a friend in first for lunch the next day!
Each day is a new start. Each day you start again at green, regardless of the card you had yesterday.
The kids, staff and parents all really have taken this behaviour system and ran with it and it is working. 
What behaviour systems do you use in school?
Can you remember what was used when you were in school?
What are you top tips for dealing with behaviour in school?
Let me know in the comments, or on twitter! I would love to collate a load of brilliant behaviour tips from you all! 
S x

S4S – Tropes I HATE

Hello Sunday, my old friend! 

A few weeks ago I talked about things that I loved about books, this week I’m going for the opposite… things that really grind on me. “Tropes” or themes in books which really irritate me, that I hate reading.

Six tropes I hate – or at least that annoy me!

  1. Good girl goes bad to be friends with the cool kids – NO. STOP.
  2. Good girl goes bad for the bad boy – AGAIN. STOP.
  3. Boy saves girl – girls do not need saved. We are badass and can save ourselves, should we need saved.
  4. Mental health is cured by girl/boy – this is a RAFT of issues.
  5. Love triangles – they don’t happen as often in real life as they do in books. Stop it.
  6. “Plain Jane” characters who get made over and suddenly become popular – OH GO AWAY.

Ha. Yes. Those things, yes they make books more interesting and sometimes can be quite a turning point in a book but they’re not necessary, always

What are your least favourite tropes?
Is there a kind of trope you think is used too often?
Do you agree with my selection?

Share your #SixforSunday on twitter or link me to your blog post! I would love to know the tropes you hate!

Til next week, 

S x

BOOKBLOG: Kristina Ohlsson

The Silver Boy: brilliant mystery, perfect for KS2 children!

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“But when Aladdin’s parents discover food is being stolen from their restaurant, he and his friends decide to investigate.
Soon, Aladdin notices a strange boy – dressed in short trousers, despite the freezing cold. But as hard as he tries to catch him, the boy always disappears – leaving no tracks in the fresh snow. Before long, Aladdin and his friends are pulled into a web of secrets and history, treasure and crime.
Can they uncover the mystery of the curious Silver Boy?”

The Silver Boy is a brilliant story about a young man (Aladdin – I couldn’t help but picture Disney’s Aladdin at times!) whose parents own a restuarant in a town in Sweden. Things are going missing from the restaurant and Aladdin makes it his mission, along with his friends, to figure out the culprit

There are some brilliant moments in this book. There’s some scary moments – one in particular with Aladdin in a dark room. There’s lovely friendship. There’s fearless children doing what children do… wreaking a bit of havoc in places. There’s Aladdin fighting for his parents and his friends. Brilliant little mystery. I devoured it quickly. It would be perfect for Year 4-6 kids. I think boys in particular would enjoy this book. I’m looking forward to putting this in the school library and see what my kids make of it!

I was sent this by my lovely book fairy Sarah, so thank you so much! I thoroughly enjoyed it! I’m looking forward to reading the first book that goes with this (I know, I didn’t know they were a kind of series).

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Can you recommend any other mystery books?
What are your favourite kids mystery books?

I’m always on the look out for kids lit recommendations! Let me know in the comments or on twitter (@eenalol).

S x

BOOKBLOG: Emery Lord

The Names They Gave Us: filled with faith, tears and friendshipImage result for the names they gave us

“Everything is going right for Lucy Hansson, until her mom’s cancer reappears. Just like that, Lucy breaks with all the constants in her life: her do-good boyfriend, her steady faith, even her longtime summer church camp job.
Instead, Lucy lands at a camp for kids who have been through tough times. As a counselor, Lucy is in over her head and longs to be with her parents across the lake. But that’s before she gets to know her coworkers, who are as loving and unafraid as she so desperately wants to be.
It’s not just new friends that Lucy discovers at camp—more than one old secret is revealed along the way. In fact, maybe there’s much more to her family and her faith than Lucy ever realized.”

Lucy is a young lady who is struggling with her faith, her boyfriend, her home town and her mam’s illness. Everything seems to be piling on top of her and it makes her question everything. Lucy usually spends summers helping at her mam and dad’s summer camp, but this year her mam has a new idea: for Lucy to go help at the other summer camp over the lake. Unlike her parent’s camp: it’s not a religious camp, it’s a camp for troubled kids. It’s here that Lucy finds a lot out about herself, about life and about love, in all its kinds.

I’m sometimes hesitant with books about faith, as they can be written in the wrong manner, with the wrong message but this one was incredible. I know a lot of people are put off by books with religion, featuring characters who are religious and that’s a shame, because this one is wonderful. The story looks at Lucy and her faith and how it’s impacted by everything in her life. Her faith isn’t the be all and end all of this story but it’s an important undertone. Her faith is part of her and so it should be part of her story. It becomes something she struggles with but is always something she is dedicated to. It plays a big part in her relationship with her boyfriend Lucas, who is an equally religious young man who eventually ends up not understanding Lucy’s questioning of her faith. 

Lucy’s adventure in Rising Sun Camp introduces her to some incredible characters, some tough challenges and some kids who help to make her the person she becomes. She deals with children she’s never had to before, camp activities that she wouldn’t normally. She’s thrust into an environment that she’s never been in before. She meets friends that are probably some of the best she will ever have. There’s romance. A beautifully written romance, which starts as a friendship and grows. I loved watching the evolution of this relationship. It made my heart so happy.

Obviously, it’s not all happy. Lucy’s mam is poorly. She’s away from her family. She’s questioning her faith. She’s not sure who she is. She’s not sure what she’s doing. I finished this book with a lot of tears, but with a full heart. It is a beautifully written tale of friendship, love and faith

I was very lucky to receive a proof of this from the publishers and I am so grateful! Having read When We Collided, another book by this wonderful author, I knew I needed to get my hands on it!

Have you read The Names They Gave Us?
What’s your take on books with religious themes?
Have you read When We Collided?
BOOK BLOG: Emery Lord

Let me know what you think on twitter, or in the comments! 

S x

Book snatching?!

Hello, tis Wednesday guest blog time again! This time you are very lucky to be in the hands of my lovely Irish friend Aoife, blogger extraordinaire over at Pretty Purple Polka Dots and Twitterer to the max at @PrettyPPD (you should probably follow her, it’s a good idea kids). 
She’s going to talk to you all about the books on my shelves that she wants to get her hands on! 
Without further ado…
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Steph and I are in a vicious cycle where we recommend each other books and then probably never end up actually reading them. This time, it’s time to break the chain and actually read something she has.

I took a peek at Steph’s (well stocked) personal library and picked out five tomes I’d love to get my hands on. All I have to do is turn up at her place and demand them. Simple.

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Scrappy Little Nobody – Anna Kendrick
 
I love Anna Kendrick  – she’s hilarious in Pitch Perfect, and when I found out she was releasing a book I knew I had to get my hands on it.
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Flawed – Cecelia Ahern
 
I love Cecelia’s more grown up work and I’d really love to give her YA fiction a go.

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The Graces – Laure Eve
This was read by my book club in Dublin and they all loved it. I missed the meeting because I was in Wales at the time doing an MA, so I think I have a little catching up to do.
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The Scarecrow trilogy – Melinda Salisbury

Steph has been singing the praises of this series for months, so I’m really tempted. This is one that’s going straight on my TBR.

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Silence is Goldfish – Annabel Pitcher
 
Cheating a little – Steph actually sent me this book a few months ago. 
 
Aoife

Pretty Purple Polka Dots
@PrettyPPD 
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Thank you so much Aoife! Consider these books on their way to you once they’ve been read! 
S x

BOOKBLOG: Julie Israel

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index: a gorgeous tale of love and memory

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“It’s been sixty-five days since the accident that killed Juniper’s sister, and ripped Juniper’s world apart.
Then she finds the love letter: written by Camilla on the day of the accident, addressed mysteriously to “You,” but never sent. Desperate to learn You’s identity and deliver the message, Juniper starts to investigate.
Until she loses something. A card from her Happiness Index: a ritual started by sunny Camie for logging positives each day. It’s what’s been holding Juniper together since her death – but a lost card only widens the hole she left behind. And this particular card contains Juniper’s own dark secret: a memory she can’t let anyone else find out.
The search for You and her card take Juniper to even less expected places, and as she connects with those whose secrets she upturns in the effort, she may just find the means to make peace with her own.”

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index tells the tale of Juniper, a teenager struggling with losing her sister and trying to keep the memory of her sister alive. She finds a letter in her sister’s bag which is addressed to a mysterious “You” and Juniper makes it her mission to find out who “You” is and why her sister kept it a secret from her. Along the way Juniper thinks she’s losing some of the people who mean the most to her – her parents, her closest friends – and meets some incredible people who she needs as much as they need her – new friends, teachers who support her. Throughout you get Juniper’s take on the day through narrative and her index cards – she rates the day and talks about the positive and the negatives

I really, really loved this book. I devoured it in 2 days. It’s a brilliant story all about keeping the memory of someone you’ve lost without losing yourself in guilt and blame. Juniper had to learn how to fall in love with the present with part of her life missing. She has to learn that some things aren’t her fault, nor can she change them – this journey was so lovely. This book does a brilliant job telling the story of finding someone else’s lost love whilst honouring past memories and current friends and ultimately finding yourself. The mixture of loss, guilt, friendship, love, kissing, dumpster diving and acceptance was spot on for me. 

Juniper’s struggle with grief is one in which she throws herself at this project – to find “You” and to “save” he people around her. Her parents are struggling. The portrayal of her mam and dad’s grieving were touching. Seeing the change in them from the beginning of the book to the end was moving; it made me cry. Juniper starts the book with very few friends, but gains friends in the strangest of ways – she has good intentions but they end up biting her in the nose. She’s a loveable main character. I liked her straight away: she seemed honest and trust-worthy despite the fact she’s hiding a secret, despite the fact she’s living her life with blame and guilt hanging over her head. There’s the loveable rogue, Brand, who helps Juniper in more ways that she could ever have imagined. I really felt for Brand. He’s going through some things himself but helps. Juniper’s bunch of friends enrich this book, with her friend Lauren playing an exceptional role, much to mine and Juniper’s surprise.

Please, go out and get your hands on this book. It’s SO gorgeous. I loved it. Every second.

I was sent this by the gorgeous book fairies over at Puffin books, so thank you so much! 

Have you read Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index?
What did you think?

Let me know what you thought in the comments or on twitter. I want to talk about this book with EVERYONE. It is such a great book!

S x

Back to school

Here we go, the final half term of the school year and the final half term of being a HLTA. From September I will officially be a trainee teacher. That’s pretty scary to say the least. Am I ready for it? I think yes. I’m probably NOT but I’m ready to do the thing I love doing all the time. To think this time next year I’ll be qualified or almost qualified scares the life out of me. But I can’t wait. 

I’ve had a glorious half term of reading and not doing much else – there’s a blog post coming up in the next week of how many books I read over half term and it’s the most I’ve ever read. However, I needed to switch off. I’ve had a stressful 2 years of uni and work on top of each other, so to have a half term where I had no uni work has been lovely. I’ve been able to be a person. Yes I should’ve done more school work than I have but yknow what? Sometimes a girl needs a break. And I had mine. I feel so much better for it. I feel like I’ve been off for ages. I don’t normally handle holidays this well. Ask anyone I work with, or my family, and you’ll find out that holidays make me feel at a loss, I’m never quite sure what to do with myself, but this holidays I have read, spent time with my family and just relaxed

What does this half term have in store for me? 

The last half term in schools is always the MOST manic. It’s when everything happens. At my school we have a Year 6 residential to the Lakes TODAY, for 2 nights; there’s 2 sports days, EYFS/KS1 and KS2, which are held at the bowling green up from school; achievement assemblies; MY GRADUATION (how scary); a whole school beach trip; a possible trip with my Y4s on a train (AM I A FOOL FOR TRYING THIS?); running Newspaper Club as well as Out of School Club. ALL OF THE THINGS. Along with the things like reports, decisions about next year and all those school things. 

I’m looking forward to this final half term, as manic and mad as it might be, Summer 2 is one of those half terms where you have to just take the bull by the horns and run with it. 6 weeks of busy, pulling together the year. I am not ready for this year to be over though, I’ve had a lovely year.

What does this half term have in store for you?
Is Summer 2 a busy half term for you?

Let me know in the comments or talk to me on Twitter (@eenalol), I love knowing what’s coming up for everyone! Tweachers are some of my favourite people!

S x