Favourite YA authors

Hello! It’s Wednesday! You know what that means, guest post Wednesday (I really need to think of a new name for this, that’s better! But hey ho, we’ll go with guest post wednesday for now!) 

Without further ado, I welcome my lovely friend Amy (links at the bottom of the post) who is here to talk about her favourite YA books! You can check out my post on Amy’s blog too in the next few days! I would love to see what you all think about our choices!

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Thanks for having me Steph to discuss my favourite YA books! When we decided to do this, I didn’t realise how difficult it would be. I eventually narrowed my list down and realised the books that have really stayed with me are set in vivid fantasy worlds, with characters that made me care about what happened to them.

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Northern Lights by Philip Pullman was the book that got me into fantasy. I’ve seen the play, travelled across the country to meet Philip Pullman and read it more times than I can count. There aren’t many books that I was able to read as a child and still get so much out of as an adult. I’m not sure it’s technically a YA book but I’m including it because it has something for everybody.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor is my ultimate YA book. I can still remember the first time I read it, how I had no idea what was coming and really loved those characters. Karou and Akiva are my ultimate OTP and Laini Taylor’s writing is beautiful.

The Weight of Feathers by Anna Marie McLemore is one of those books that engages all of the senses. The descriptions are lyrical and gorgeous, and this is my favourite example of magical realism.

The Forbidden Game by LJ Smith was my favourite book as a teenager. I read it so many times that I almost knew it by heart and I think Julian was my first book crush. I reread it recently and it has definitely stood the test of time.

These are my other favourites: a mixture of high concept fantasy; believable, thought-provoking contemporary and even a little horror.

  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
  • City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
  • Glass Houses (The Morganville Vampires) by Rachel Caine
  • Am I normal yet? by Holly Bourne
  • The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
  • Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
  • The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
  • The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Radio Silence by Alice Oseman
  • Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
  • The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
  • Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas
  • Asking For It by Louise O’Neill

If you want to read more of my YA recommendations or chat about books, you can find me on Twitter (@yaundermyskin) and on my blog (www.yaundermyskin.co.uk).

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As you can see a lot of my personal favourites are on Amy’s long list, but to see my list of favourite YA I would love you to go over to my post at YA Under My Skin to find out my choices!

Thanks Amy for your guest post, I loved it! 

S x

#Bookpost appreciation post

Dear publishers, friends, wonderful authors,

Thank you so much for all of your wonderful book post. You don’t have to send them to me and I am so eternally grateful for when you do. There is no joy quite as incredible as when I get home after a tough day to an envelope which I KNOW contains a book (my mam often jokes that it’s a football/bread/statue of liberty). It never gets old receiving book post. It never stops being amazing that you are kind enough to send me book post. I’m just a little blogger, reading and reviewing books and it means the world that people send me books.

Once books have been read they go 1 of 3 ways:

  1. To the school library: if they’re kids books, I’ll send them to my school library. If they’re YA books or books which are too old for my kids, I’ll send them to a local secondary school.
  2. Stay on my shelf: if I loved it and know I’ll reread it, I’ll place it on my shelf. That’s where the “to stay” books go.
  3. Pass it round: I love passing books round to my friends. You’ve shared books these amazing books with me, so I get to share them with others.

Love, alittlebutalot xxx

In light of this, I’m going to share a monthly #bookpost appreciation post to show you some of the incredible bookpost I’ve received.

This time round I have to share one of the most incredible #bookpost hauls I’ve ever had. Courtesy of the incredible people at Puffin, I received: 

Check out that haul. *makes heart eyes*

The Cow That Fell To Earth – Nadia Shireen (an amazing looking picture book, I love cows!)
Grumpy Frog – Ed Vere (I am SUCH an Ed Vere fan, his books are lush)
Wave Me Goodbye – Jacqueline Wilson (one that I’ve been VERY excited to receive, it’s about a WW2 evacuee!)
Little Women – Louise May Alcott (this is from the incredible new versions of classics, I read this as a child and am looking forward to reading it again)
The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame (I don’t think I’ve EVER read this, but now that I have it, I definitely will be!)
Tilly and the Time Machine – Adrian Edmondson (I think this is one that will DEFINITELY be going to the school library; just from the cover, it’ll be a hit!)
The Guggenheim Mystery – Robin Stevens (I haven’t read the first book of this series yet, I must before I read this one!)
Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index – Julia Isreal (Oh man, I am a SUCKER for YA novels and that cover is EVERYTHING. Can’t wait to read this!)

Thank you Puffin so much for my incredible bookpost. 

What’s your favourite kind of post?
What book post has been your favourite of all time?

Let me know in the comments, or on twitter (@eenalol). I would love to see your bookpost!

S x

HALF TERM?

It’s that lovely time of year again when us teachers get some down time. My school elected for 1 week at Easter and 2 weeks now, so here I am with 2 weeks off and I’m sure there’s loads of things I can fill my time with!

Seeing the twigletsalways top of “half term to do” list. I love half term cause it means I can get to see my favourite two humans and spend time with them. I even might get to sneak a school pick up in my second week off… that’d be wonderful! I’ve only ever been to their school once!

Reading – I will OBVIOUSLY be spending a lot of time reading. I have already finished 2 books and am half way through a 3rd. I would love to think that I can get through 10 books? Maybe. I love reading and will try and do it any chance I get! I’m currently reading Noah Can’t Even by Simon James Green. It’s pretty funny!Image result for noah can't even

Doing some exercise – it’s lovely outside at the minute, so even if it’s some walking, I’d love to just get out and about again. I need to get back to the gym – now that uni is done I will have a spare evening, so hoping I can find my inspiration again!

Going to the seaside – the seaside is my FAVOURITE place in the world (any sea side, I’d love to visit a hot one, but the North East coast will have to suffice!) I find it just relaxes me and is a brilliant place to just chill and enjoy a day off. If you need me on a sunny day, you’ll probably find me at the beach with a book!

Buying books – my book buying ban is over in June and I am looking forward to being able to buy books again! Mind, I’ve received lots of books in the post (thank you all you wonderful people in my life) so there’s not been a shortage of reading material! It’ll just be lovely going into a book shop again knowing I can BUY something! I have missed Waterstones!

Packing – the day we go back to school I am going with the Y6s on a residential to London, which is super exciting. We’re going to see Wicked, visiting Harry Potter Studios and doing some lovely touristy stuff in London. It’ll be awesome, so I definitely need to get packed!

Relaxing – just relaxing; spending some time reading and drinking tea and coffee and not being in a rush. Having lazy mornings, not having to be up early, not having anywhere really to be. Just taking life at a slower pace

Now, being a teacher, there are naturally 73927429 things to be done. I do have work to do and I do have planning to do, marking to do, but I want to be able to have a good balance of things for me to do and things for work to do. I sometimes struggle being on holiday from work – I love my job, it gives me great purpose – but I’m hoping this time I can just chill and enjoy the sunshine (if it stays!)

Fellow teachers:
– What are your plans for your half term?
– Is there anything you love doing during half term?
– What is your work/relaxing balance like during half terms?

Let me know in the comments, or on twitter (@eenalol). I’d love to hear what everyone else gets up to!

S x

BOOKBLOG: Penny Joelson

I Have No Secrets: a slow burn, but shines bright by the end.

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“Jemma knows who did the murder. She knows because he told her. And she can’t tell anyone.

Fourteen-year-old Jemma has severe cerebral palsy. Unable to communicate or move, she relies on her family and carer for everything. She has a sharp brain and inquisitive nature, and knows all sorts of things about everyone. But when she is confronted with this terrible secret, she is utterly powerless to do anything. Though that might be about to change…”

I had seen this book floating around on twitter for a while and it appealed to me. I didn’t know much about it at the time which I bought it. The cover was simple and endearing. I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself in for to be honest. I struggled at first. There were times I wanted to throw this book at my wall and be done with it – it was a very slow burn, but I persevered… I like to think that there aren’t many books I DNF. 

Jemma is a young girl with cerebal palsy and she can not communicate with anyone around her. She is just an observer in life. She finds out people’s secrets; they share things with her because they know she can’t pass them on; she knows things and sees things that possibly wouldn’t be given to her if she were able to communicate. She finds out something terrible – someone commits a murder and she can’t help. It frustrates her to no end. It frustrated me. There were times I just wanted her to be able to communicate somehow. I think this is why eventually the book became a quick burn to me – something changes and this changes the book entirely. 

This book is filled with characters I really liked, and characters I hated. I loved Jemma’s family dynamic. There’s some complicated relationships going on but her family I really liked. It’s a diverse family with some strong personalities. I really liked Sarah. She was everything which is good in the world to me. She looks after Jemma like a friend, sees her as a person. Yes she does some questionable things, but knows that Jemma is important. There is one character who I utterly despised. I don’t often dislike characters that much, but him, I really did. I won’t spoil anything, but if you read it and figure out who then please share your thoughts with me

Have you read I Have No Secrets?
What did you think of the premise and the characters?
How would you feel if you couldn’t communicate?

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

S x

Dear Clothes Manufacturers…

Dear clothes manufacturers,

Hello, I’m a woman. I wear women’s clothes. I like skirts and trousers and pyjamas. I like to carry a handbag sure but I wear clothes. They keep me warm and they keep me covered, and they’re generally pretty comfortable.

I would like to talk to you today about a few things. Please bear with me.

  1. Pockets. 
    Yes. Those wonderful things that ALL men’s clothes have. Pockets. You know those handy things which come on clothes which can be used to STORE things? Those. They can be useful to all of the people. Why do men get pockets in EVERYTHING, yet women are subjected to pockets only on select things? What is that all about? Yes I may carry a handbag, but I want to put my phone or my change (or whatever else I carry and need quick access to) in a pocket, attached to my clothes. Please provide us with pockets. It would be lovely to have as many pockets as men do. Pockets in skirts, dresses, pyjamas, trousers – I just want more pockets please. I would like to commend you now on the fact that there is more clothing with real, usable pockets, alas there is much to be done in the pocket front. Keep up the good progress.
    Another thing… DEEPER POCKETS. Men get many deep pockets, some of the pockets on my clothes aren’t deep enough to house anything. Please consider that we want and need pockets which are as deep as the ones on men’s clothes. We have deep things to store, just like them!
    ONE MORE THING WHILE WE’RE ON POCKETS… Fake. Pockets. 
    WHO FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY DECIDED FAKE POCKETS WERE A GOOD IDEA? I MEAN, CMON. I HATE going shopping and finding a gorgeous dress, or a pair of trousers that would be perfect for work, or for just human’ing in and then finding that when I unzip the pocket it goes to NOTHING. A fake pocket. WHY? WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS? If you’re going to go to the effort of putting a fake pocket on, you could just use that effort on giving me a real pocket. One of the most frustrating things to play (yet funny) is POCKET OR NO POCKET. I play it often when shopping… the amount of times NO POCKET is the correct answer is frustrating. So either stop pretending there are pockets by making there be NOTHING there at all to even hint at a pocket, OR just give us a real pocket. That would be wonderful.
  2. Holes in clothing
    Why? Why? If my clothes get holes then I generally throw them out. Oh look, my t-shirt has a hole in, what a shame, I must now throw it out. My jeans have a hole in? Oh well, best throw them away and get a new pair. WHY WOULD I WANT TO BUY SOME WITH HOLES ALREADY IN? Now I recognise that lots of people do in fact like this trend and I could just be the untrendiest person in the world here, but I do not understand it. So please can we cut down the holes in clothes thing? That would be lovely.
  3. Jeans
    Now this one could take me a while to articulate. I hate buying jeans. I have asked some female friends this before and they too hate jeans shopping. Just today looking at my Facebook someone was complaining about buying jeans and a lot of replies came saying that they too hated buying jeans. Going shopping for jeans is one of those experiences that crushes my confidence. It never fails to baffle me. There does not seem to be a universal jean sizing rule. I can be one size in one shop and then a completely different size in another – HOW? What is that all about?
    ALSO even within shops I can be a different size – depending on dye. Black jeans and blue jeans I am a different size for. This baffles me. Please can we have some kind of universal sizing for jeans? This would make me, the rest of the jean hating buying people and probably the world.

That is all for now. Thank you for your time. It has been a pleasure.

Steph (on behalf of WomenForPockets, WomenWhoHateBuyingJeans and WhyDoesMyTopHaveHolesIn?) x

BOOKBLOG: Matt Haig

How To Stop Time: evocative, compelling, thought-provoking

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“Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret.

He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen a lot, and now craves an ordinary life. Always changing his identity to stay alive, Tom has the perfect cover – working as a history teacher at a London comprehensive. Here he can teach the kids about wars and witch hunts as if he’d never witnessed them first-hand. He can try and tame the past that is fast catching up with him.

The only thing Tom mustn’t do is fall in love.”

Having recently read Reasons to Stay Alive I knew I needed more Matt Haig in my life and when I saw this on Netgalley I REQUESTED IT SO FAST. I pondered it a while and when I was accepted I needed to find time to read it. (Luckily, May is my You MAY not buy any books month so I figured I could make a dent in my Netgalley bookshelves!). I am so glad I decided to request it and read it. It broke my heart. It put it back together again. It gave my literary nerd heart things to jump about. It inspired me. It taught me things. 

Tom, a 41 year old man, isn’t like other 41 year olds. In fact he is centuries old. He suffers from a condition that means he’s been around for centuries and that he ages much slower than most people. This means that he’s lived through many centuries of change; through many rulers; on many different continents – but there’s one thing that stays the same, him. Through the book you go on a journey through his life, with flashbacks aplenty. You see his life as it is today – being a history teacher in London – and as it was all of the centuries ago. Through his life he met some literary greats – which pleased my heart so much – and battled through many hardships – disease, love, heart break, death. He’s a character I really had a fondness for: I was definitely sad to say goodbye to him when it came to the end of the book.

You get to meet people from Tom’s life and see how they each shaped him into becoming the man he is now. The woman he fell in love with; the man who saved his life; the friend he tries to save; the kids he teaches; the relationship he has with himself. Each and every person has an impact on our lives and these impacts should be something we are grateful for. People come into our lives and make an impression for a reason – they may not stick around forever but that impression they made on you can be.

I think everyone will take something different from this book – some will think of it as a romance novel, some will think of it as a gimpse into history, some an adventure. To me it was all of those things in one incredibly poignant novel. I can’t wait to read it again and pick up new things that I might’ve missed the first time round.

Bravo Matt Haig. I can’t wait to see what’s next. (And plus, it’s already been picked up for a movie… can’t wait for that!)

Have you read How To Stop Time?
What period of history would you travel back to if you could?

Let me know your answers in the comments, or on twitter (@eenalol).

S x 

BOOKBLOG: Oliver Jeffers

A Child of Books: inspiring, engaging and essential

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“A little girl sails her raft across a sea of words, arriving at the house of a small boy and calling him away on an adventure. Through forests of fairy tales and across mountains of make-believe, the two travel together on a fantastical journey that unlocks the boy’s imagination. Now a lifetime of magic and adventure lies ahead of him . . . but who will be next?”

A Child of Books is one of those wonderful books that comes along every now and again and isn’t about anything other than the power of imagination and the power of books. Throughout the story you see the girl and her friend invent and create a world based on their imagination. In a time where children’s imaginations are not the focus of their writing, this book is an incredible look at what writing should be about – how using your imagination can inspire a story, generation and the world

The illustrations in this book are absolutely spot on. They are so beautifully drawn and tell the story incredibly well. I love the use of words to create different parts of illustration (the wave in the picture above is made solely of words) and infusing books into as many pictures as possible (the trees in the forest are books, a lovely feature I didn’t realise until one of my children pointed it out!) My favourite illustration however is this one:

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The stark comparison of this picture compared to all of the others gave me great joy. It sends a brilliant message about building your world around stories and how anyone can build worlds, using stories

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The end papers are gorgeous. They’re titles of famous children’s books. I would love to sit and go through them and try to figure out which ones I’ve read and which I haven’t. All of the books seem to be ones which inspire and have created their own world. Books written by authors who have used their imagination to create a new land, a new world – somewhere new for the readers to explore

I have a massive place in my life for Oliver Jeffers; I think his work is outstanding. All of his other books are absolutely wonderful and all have a place in my life as a teacher and a reader. When I heard of this book, I knew it was one I had to own. Again you have a complete hit from Jeffers – the man who writes hit after hit. All classrooms and homes should have place for Oliver Jeffers books. From books for tiny little people to books for children a little older, they’re all wonderful. 

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Have you read A Child of Books?
What do you make of Oliver Jeffers?
Are there any other picture books like this you’d recommend?

I’d love to know what you think! Let me know in the comments, or on twitter – (@eenalol).

S x

BOOKBLOG: Vivian French

I am a MASSIVE FAN of picture books. 

I am a MASSIVE FAN of books which promote a love of reading. 

Pair these two together and you have a book I KNOW I need to read and own and tell everyone about.

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The Covers of my Book are Too Far Apart is a PERFECT book for classrooms. I would implore every school to have a copy. 

“I’m too old for bedtime stories!”

“That’s a GIRLS’ book!”

“Reading’s rubbish!”

Find answers to these and many more reading grumbles in this joyful celebration of all that’s brilliant about books and reading. For book lovers, book haters and everyone in between!

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This book is just incredible. Each page deals with ANOTHER excuse for not reading (This is a girls book, only clever people read) and retorts from a variety of characters about how that isn’t true. I love it. 

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I absolutely love the idea behind this book and will be championing it for a long time! 

S x

BOOKBLOG: Karen Gregory

Countless: heartbreaking, eye-opening and gut-wrenching.

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“When Hedda discovers she is pregnant, she doesn’t believe she could ever look after a baby. The numbers just don’t add up. She is young, and still in the grip of an eating disorder that controls every aspect of how she goes about her daily life. She’s even given her eating disorder a name – Nia. But as the days tick by, Hedda comes to a decision: she and Nia will call a truce, just until the baby is born. 17 weeks, 119 days, 357 meals. She can do it, if she takes it one day at a time…”

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I had heard lovely things from my good friend Rachel about this book and knew that I needed to get my hands on it and get it read and I don’t regret it. It broke my heart but it was incredible.

It’s the story of Hedda, who suffers from an eating disorder which has caused somewhat of a breakdown in her family situation, who finds out she is pregnant. This book talks about the very complicated relationship between sufferer and their body and mind; doing it in such an incredible way. Hedda is a complicated young lady, who suddenly becomes thrust into a life she doesn’t want – she has a reliance on her eating disorder for control – but has to live it regardless. She has to learn to eat, she has to learn how to be a healthy body for the sake of her baby. She struggles and her struggle is so brilliantly written, it seems authentic. You’re also introduced to Robin – Hedda’s neighbour. I have a complicated relationship with Robin. You’ll see why when you read. He’s like that unreliable narrator that people are never sure how to react to. Her relationship with her body, for a time changes for the sake of her baby, but once the baby comes is that the way that it is going to stay?

I was hesitant to read this book at first. Books centred around eating disorders walk a fine line and there are so many which are not written with enough care, that it makes them tough to read. I never felt that through this book. I had enough knowledge about what was going that I didn’t feel like it was about an ED, it was about living and coping and adapting to life with an ED. The one thing that stood out to me was that there was never numbers in this book. There was never the mention of sizes or weights. Just that she was struggling with an eating disorder. 

I won’t spoil this any more than I already have, but the ending absolutely killed me. You’ve read this, watched this incredible young lady struggle with her mind, her body and her emotions for the past 9 months and then she has to then become a mam. She has to become the person this baby relies upon and she finds it hard. Very hard. The last page broke my heart. 

Have you read Countless?
What did you think of it?
Can you recommend any books similar to this?

Let me know in the comments or on twitter!

S x

Release launch

I have been in the bookish world for about a year now, like properly in the bookish world. I’ve always been a bookish person, always loved the ways of the books, but it wasn’t until last Summer that I really started going to book events (I had been to a few at Seven Stories, an incredible book loving venue in Newcastle, including my first meeting of my Queen, Queen Melinda Salisbury, but I am going off on a tangent here). I’ve been to UKYACX, YAShot and a few other bookish events but when I heard that Patrick Ness was going to be in Newcastle I knew I HAD to go. I have admired this man’s work from afar for a while. A Monster Calls absolutely broke me in two. So I hurried to Waterstones Newcastle and got myself a ticket and man am I glad!

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I was lucky enough to get to go with one of my favourite blogger friends, Cora, and another lovely twitterer who alerted us at the last minute that she was going and asked if she could tag along. Another thing I love about the book world is that we are all so lovely and friendly that bookish people flock together and have a love of books together! 

The event was held in the Tyneside Cinema in one of the actual screening rooms and as it is such a beautiful venue I spent a lot of the waiting time just looking around. I never get bored of being in the Tyneside Cinema. If you’re ever in Newcastle, get yourself down there, it is so gorgeous. 

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The event was chaired by the lovely Anna James and she was such a brilliant chair! I’m lucky enough to have met Anna before so it was a lovely surprise to meet her again and see she was chairing the event. When the chat started Patrick began with a story about England football and congratulated Newcastle on winning the Championship, which I thought was a lovely touch (being a massive football fan that I am!) It’s always interesting going along to events like this because you get to learn new snippets of things about authors that you never knew before. Patrick revealed to us that he starts with the first and last line of a book and then puts the rest in – I’d never thought about writing a book like that before but I guess it makes sense! He also talked for a little while about A Monster Calls the film and told us that he’d written the screenplay before he knew whether it would be a film or not. He also talked to us about the Doctor Who show Class – which I have not seen, but as chatter went on to talk about some big plot twist in one of the episodes I am most tempted. He made some really interesting comments about authors needing to earn the right to be frank about sex and sexuality – that authors can’t just write sex for the sake of sex, your readers have to know that this has purpose and meaning. He also mentioned that authors should write the book they want to read – to tell the story that you’ve not read, which I found really true. Who wants to read another Hunger Games? Give us something new!

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After the chat, there was a Q&A section where the audience were given a chance to ask questions and then there was a chance to get books signed by Patrick. I was nervous as I had 5 books in my bag to be signed and I know some events are really funny about the amount of books you’re allowed to have signed, but he was more than accommodating and said he was happy to sign all of the books I had with me! 

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He had heard me telling one of the people working the event that I was a teacher and had some lovely things to say about teachers! Anyone who respects teachers is a big hit in my books! 

I had a wonderful night and it was so lovely to finally meet him. He was an absolute delight – frank, honest, intelligent and funny. Just the kind of person I love. 

S x