Perfect Presents: YA edition

Hello! So far this week we’ve looked at picture books and MG books, but today I’m sharing some of the YA books that I think the YA lovers in your life will really enjoy! Again, there’s been so many incredible YA books out this year and I haven’t got round to reading them all, but here goes….

Ink – Alice Broadway
(BOOKBLOG: ALICE BROADWAY)

“Every action, every deed, every significant moment is tattooed on your skin for ever. When Leora’s father dies, she is determined to see her father remembered forever. She knows he deserves to have all his tattoos removed and made into a Skin Book to stand as a record of his good life. But when she discovers that his ink has been edited and his book is incomplete, she wonders whether she ever knew him at all.”

The Paper Magician – Charlie N Holmberg 
(the first of 3, with book 4 to come!)

The Paper Magician (The Paper Magician Series, Book 1) by [Holmberg, Charlie N.]

“Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic…forever.”

The Sin Eater’s Daughter – Melinda Salisbury 
(first of 3 books… buy them all!)
(Bookblog: Melinda SalisburyBOOKBLOG: Melinda Salisbury 2BOOKBLOG: Melinda Salisbury)

“Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court. As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company. 
But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen. However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favour of a doomed love?”

A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard
(BOOKBLOG: Sara Barnard)

“Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life – she’s been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He’s deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she’s assigned to look after him. To Rhys it doesn’t matter that Steffi doesn’t talk and, as they find ways to communicate, Steffi finds that she does have a voice, and that she’s falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it.”

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe – Lauren James
(BOOKBLOG: Lauren James)

“Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J. Their only communication is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love.
Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away? But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean? Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone…”

One of Us is Lying – Karen M McManus
(BOOKBLOG: Karen M. McManus)

“Five students go to detention. Only four leave alive. For fans of Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars, this is the perfect high school thriller.
Yale hopeful Bronwyn has never publicly broken a rule.

Sports star Cooper only knows what he’s doing in the baseball diamond.
Bad body Nate is one misstep away from a life of crime.
Prom queen Addy is holding together the cracks in her perfect life.
And outsider Simon, creator of the notorious gossip app at Bayview High, won’t ever talk about any of them again. He dies 24 hours before he could post their deepest secrets online. Investigators conclude it’s no accident. All of them are suspects. Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you’ll go to protect them.”

The Fallen Children – David Owen
(BOOKBLOG: David Owen)

(colour may vary!)

“Young people on the Midwich Estate don’t have much hope for their futures. Keisha has lived there her whole life, and has been working hard to escape it; others have just accepted their lot. But change is coming . . . One night, everyone inside Midwich Tower falls mysteriously unconscious in one inexplicable ‘Nightout’. No one can explain what happened during those lost hours, but soon afterwards Keisha and three other girls find they’re pregnant – and the babies are growing at an alarming rate.”

After the Fire – Will HIll
(BOOKBLOG: Will Hill)

“Father John controls everything inside The Fence. And Father John likes rules. Especially about never talking to Outsiders. Because Father John knows the truth. He knows what is right, and what is wrong. He knows what is coming. Moonbeam is starting to doubt, though. She’s starting to see the lies behind Father John’s words. She wants him to be found out. What if the only way out of the darkness is to light a fire?”

So there we go! A very quick round up of some of the best YA books I’ve read this year. There are SO MANY OTHERS. I would love to know what books are on your must buy/must recommend lists! YA books have had an exceptional year that ANY book you buy will be a great investment! 

Which of my recommendations have you read?
Are there any you think I’ve missed out?
Which 2017 books would you recommend to me?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

S x

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Perfect Presents #2

Yesterday, was the first of my “Perfect Presents” series! I hope you enjoyed my recommendations for brilliant picture books to buy! I would love to know if you have bought any of them for the little people in your life! 

Today’s perfect presents post is all about:

Perfect MG books

(Now this could be a LONG post, 2017 has been an exceptional year for MG books… bear with me!)

Christmas Dinner of Souls – Ross Montgomery
(review to come!)

“It’s a dark and lonely Christmas Eve in the dining room of ancient Soul’s College. The kitchen boy, 11-year-old Lewis, has helped prepare a highly unusual meal, made with unrecognisable ingredients, cooked by a mysterious chef. And then the guests arrive … and carnage ensues. For this is the annual meeting of a secret club for those who despise children, warmth, happiness, and above all Christmas. Each member must try to outdo the others by telling the most terrible, disgusting story they know. A spooky, shocking, bloodthirsty alternative to festive cheer that will appeal to, fascinate and delight young readers.”

Letters from the Lighthouse – Emma Carroll
(BOOKBLOG: Emma Carroll)

“February, 1941. After months of bombing raids in London, twelve-year-old Olive Bradshaw and her little brother Cliff are evacuated to the Devon coast. The only person with two spare beds is Mr Ephraim, the local lighthouse keeper. But he’s not used to company and he certainly doesn’t want any evacuees. Desperate to be helpful, Olive becomes his post-girl, carrying secret messages (as she likes to think of the letters) to the villagers. But Olive has a secret of her own. Her older sister Sukie went missing in an air raid, and she’s desperate to discover what happened to her. And then she finds a strange coded note which seems to link Sukie to Devon, and to something dark and impossibly dangerous.”

Who Let The Gods Out – Maz Evans
(while you’re at it, buy Simply The Quest too!)
(BOOKBLOG: Maz EvansBOOK BLOG: Maz Evans 1)

“Elliot’s mum is ill and his home is under threat, but a shooting star crashes to earth and changes his life forever. The star is Virgo – a young Zodiac goddess on a mission. But the pair accidentally release Thanatos, a wicked death daemon imprisoned beneath Stonehenge, and must then turn to the old Olympian gods for help. After centuries of cushy retirement on earth, are Zeus and his crew up to the task of saving the world – and solving Elliot’s problems too?”

The Polar Bear Explorer’s Club – Alex Bell
(review to come!)

“Join Stella Starflake Pearl and her three fellow explorers as they trek across the snowy Icelands and come face-to-face with frost fairies, snow queens, outlaw hideouts, unicorns, pygmy dinosaurs and carnivorous cabbages… When Stella and three other junior explorers get separated from their expedition can they cross the frozen wilderness and live to tell the tale?”

Father Christmas and Me – Matt Haig
(This is part of a series, buy all of them!)

“It isn’t always easy, growing up as a human in Elfhelm, even if your adoptive parents are the newly married Father Christmas and Mary Christmas. For one thing, Elf School can be annoying when you have to sing Christmas songs every day – even in July – and when you fail all your toy-making tests. Also it can get very, very cold. But when the jealous Easter Bunny and his rabbit army launch an attack to stop Christmas, it’s up to Amelia, her new family and the elves to keep Christmas alive. Before it’s too late . . .”

A Place Called Perfect – Helena Duggan
(BOOKBLOG: Helena Duggan)

“Violet never wanted to move to Perfect. Who wants to live in a town where everyone has to wear glasses to stop them going blind? And who wants to be perfectly behaved all the time? Violet quickly discovers there’s something weird going on, and when she meets Boy she realizes that the mysterious Watchers are guarding a perfectly creepy secret!”

The Bookshop Girl – Sylvia Bishop
(BOOKBLOG: Sylvia Bishop)

“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.”

Nevermoor – Jessica Townsend
(review to come!)

“Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day of the year, she’s blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks – and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday. But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away to the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor. It’s then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter wants her to contend for a place in the city’s most prestigious organisation: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart – an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests – otherwise she’ll have to leave and confront her deadly fate once and for all.”

Just like I said yesterday, there are so many SO MANY incredible books out there for kids. Please buy the kids in your life a book. They’re so important and there’s some absolutely incredible books out there! Ask booksellers for recommendations, they’ll have some absolutely choices for you! 

Have you read any of these choices?
Are there any books you’d like to see me review?
Which book would you most like to receive?

Talk to me on twitter, or in the comments! I would love to know what you’re buying for the kids in your life (or even yourself!)

S x

Perfect Presents #1

This week, I’m sharing my choice of 6-8 books per category which I think would make the perfect present for the bookworms in your life! 

Today is picture books!
Tomorrow, I recommend MG books!
On Wednesday, I look at books for the YA lovers in your life!
On Thursday, I recommend a random selection books! 

Without further ado, let’s look at:

Perfect Picture Books

Image result for the grotkyn

 

The Grotlyn – Benji Davies

“I know when the Grotlyn’s been
Slipping through your house unseen…”

What is the mysterious Grotlyn? What sort of creature could it be, scuttling across the town, frightening everyone in its path? And why has it stolen PC Vickers’ knickers?!”

 

Winnie and Wilbur Meet Santa – Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul

When Winnie and Wilbur write their letters to Santa they never imagine that they are actually going to meet him on Christmas Eve! After the crisis of Santa getting stuck in their chimney, Winnie and Wilbur join him on his sleigh in a desperate race against time to make sure children everywhere wake up to stockings filled with presents on Christmas morning. What a magical memorable night! It’s a fun and festive Winnie and Wilbur adventure!


The Twelve Dogs of Christmas – Alison Ritchie

The big day has almost arrived and one little puppy is very excited about his first EVER Christmas. But with three drooling Dalmatians, six sausage-snaffling Scotties and every dog in town helping out, the festive season is a shambles! Will everything be ready in time for Christmas Day?


Franklin’s Flying Bookshop – Jen Campbell

Franklin the dragon loves stories and loves reading stories to people too, but everyone is too scared to even look at him. One day he meets a girl named Luna who is fascinated to meet Franklin, having recently read all about dragons in one of her books. Together, they hatch a plan to share their love of books with others by opening a bookshop – a flying bookshop, that is – right on Franklin’s back!


Here We Are – Oliver Jeffers

Our world can be a bewildering place, especially if you’ve only just got here. From land and sky, to people and time, these notes can be your guide and start you on your journey. And you’ll figure lots of things out for yourself. Just remember to leave notes for everyone else… Some things about our planet are pretty complicated, but things can be simple, too: you’ve just got to be kind.


When I Grow Up – Tim Minchin and Steve Antony

Inspired by Tim Minchin’s hit song WHEN I GROW UP from MATILDA THE MUSICAL, the book takes a humorous yet moving look at adult life from a child’s perspective. Grown-ups surely have all the fun as they must eat sweets every day, climb the biggest trees and watch cartoons till their eyes go square. But do they really…? 

Kevin – Rob Biddulph

Uh-oh – Sid Gibbons is in trouble again! Time to think fast… When Sid makes yet another mess, and his mum is at the end of her patience, Sid does what every quick-thinking kid would do – he blames it on his big, furry, friend Kevin! Sid gets an unexpected surprise when he finds out that Kevin and his world might not be so imaginary after all – and while his friend might be make-believe, his feelings are very real.

Now, there are SO SO MANY other incredible picture books out there that regardless of what you buy, it’ll be brilliant. These are just a few of the brilliant picture books that I have come across this year that I will be buying for the little people in my life! 

What picture books are you buying this year?
Have you any recommendations for me?

Lets talk! Find me on twitter or leave me a comment! 

S x

 

S4S – Christmas books!

Hello!

Now that we are in December, I can be excited about Christmas books! AHHHHH. How are we all? Have we all done our Christmas shopping? Are you all like me and LOVE wrapping paper and ribbon but HATE wrapping?! 

Anyway, today’s #SixforSunday prompt is:

Christmas books for kids

(I’m not sure how many of these are Christmas, or how many are just wintery and snowy!)

  1. Jolly Christmas Postman (Bloody love the Jolly Postman, and the Jolly Christmas Postman makes my heart so happy!)
  2. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (not sure it’s Christmas BUT it is Wintery and therefore I class it!)
  3. Father Christmas and Me/A Boy Called Christmas/The Girl Who Saved Christmas (technically 3 books BUT they are INCREDIBLE. Matt Haig seems to be good at everything!)
  4. The Christmasaurus (I love this book! I have an original copy and then yes, I did buy a musical edition… no regrets!)
  5. How The Grinch Stole Christmas (I read this for the first time last year and I loved it! Jim Carey’s portrayal of The Grinch is brilliant!)
  6. The Twelve Dogs of Christmas (The publishers sent me this book this year and it’s lush!)

I would love to see your #SixforSunday books! 

Keep your eyes peeled on January 1st for the #SixforSunday prompts for 2018! I have them all ready! 

S x

12 Days of Clink Christmas

Today I have the joy of hosting Monikka Jephcott Thomas as part of the 12 Days of CLink Christmas! I hope you enjoy the post which describes the inspiration behind her brilliant book ‘Fifteen Words’.

Fifteen Words Cover

The inspiration for FIFTEEN WORDS 

I was doing some research into my family history, as most of us do at some stage of our lives and, also as most of us do whose parents grew up during the world wars, I felt their stories were the stuff of novels. Unlike many who will be reading this however, my parents were both German. They met during the Second World War and were eventually separated by it, as Max and Erika are in the novel – my father having to go off and serve as a doctor in the German army, not because he wanted to (he was not a supporter of the Nazi party), but because he was conscripted, like so many young men across the globe in the early ’40s. 

The novel is heavily inspired by the real-life trials and tribulations of my parents’ early married lives – simply because they are so inherently dramatic – whilst allowing me to depict the complexity of growing up in Nazi Germany among the potent forces of religion and fascism competing for young souls. It is also an exploration of the strength of human relationships, which the war tested greatly, in an age when letter writing was one of the few long distance forms of communication available to most; when the fighting separated husbands and wives, children and parents for extensive periods of time and over vast distances.

In the book, Max is a POW in a Russian labour camp on the edge of the Arctic for four long and painful years. I was shocked to find out, during my research for this novel, that German POWs in those Soviet labour camps were only allowed to send letters home if they contained a maximum of fifteen words. So, in the novel, Max struggles over how to express everything he wants to tell Erika with such limitations. He enlists the help of his more artistic friends to help him. But finally in despair he writes something damning. It becomes one of the themes of the book: how we can say so much in so few words to beautiful or destructive effect.

The book was written reasonably quickly, in just a few months, but that was mainly because I was steeped in all the stories from the research I had already done into my family history, which had unearthed all manner of letters, documents, photos and tape recordings. The real work was deciding which stories to follow in the novel. Apart from the themes I wanted to explore, the stories I eventually focused on were also the most gripping, page-turning aspects of the history. So the book has its fair share of explosions, air raids, prison breakouts, emergency medical procedures on the battlefield, not to mention a pregnant woman hanging on to the outside of a speeding train! 

Fifteen Words is however, primarily a love story. Anyone who likes World War 2 fiction will find it not only interesting but, I think, refreshing. This book is unusual in that there are not many books written in English about the German experience of WW2. Many early readers of the manuscript found it an eye-opener, informing them about the war in a way they never thought of before, without it being a text which tries to rewrite history. In no way does it attempt to say the Nazis weren’t to blame for the atrocities of the war, but it merely points out that not all Germans were Nazis. As with any war, which we see all too often today, there are many civilian casualties, from all strata of society. In this very human story I hope I have been able to reaffirm how all of us, from whatever nation, for all our differences, still suffer and rejoice in remarkably similar ways.

Want to know more?

Two young doctors form a profound and loving bond in Nazi Germany; a bond that will stretch them to the very limits of human endurance. Catholic Max – whose religious and moral beliefs are in conflict, has been conscripted to join the war effort as a medic, despite his hatred of Hitler’s regime. His beloved Erika, a privileged young woman, is herself a product of the Hitler Youth. In spite of their stark differences, Max and Erika defy convention and marry.

But when Max is stationed at the fortress city of Breslau, their worst nightmares are realised; his hospital is bombed, he is captured by the Soviet Army and taken to a POW camp in Siberia. Max experiences untold horrors, his one comfort the letters he is allowed to send home: messages that can only contain Fifteen Words. Back in Germany, Erika is struggling to survive and protect their young daughter, finding comfort in the arms of a local carpenter. Worlds apart and with only sparse words for comfort, will they ever find their way back to one another, and will Germany ever find peace?

Fifteen Words is a vivid and intimate portrayal of human love and perseverance, one which illuminates the German experience of the war, which has often been overshadowed by history.

Monkika Jephcott Thomas

Purchase on Amazon UKCLICK click

Monika Jephcott Thomas grew up in Dortmund Mengede, north-west Germany. She moved to the UK in 1966, enjoying a thirty year career in education before retraining as a therapist. Along with her partner Jeff she established the Academy of Play & Child Psychotherapy in order to support the twenty per cent of children who have emotional, behavioural, social and mental health problems by using play and the creative Arts. A founder member of Play Therapy UK, Jephcott Thomas was elected President of Play Therapy International in 2002.

November books!

Well hello compadres. 
The year is almost coming to an end! What happened there? 

The day is December 1. I have read books. I have done things. November came and went. It was a pretty stressful month. My poor bullet journal was abandoned due to stresses. I bought a Fitbit and I am coming to terms with the fact I have VERY expressive hands! Also though, I didn’t realise just how many steps I did do in a day. Anyway. 

Books.
November.

I was poorly for most of November, and we had that lovely Ofsted thing come visit us, so I didn’t get as much read as I would like to BUT I did manage to read 5 books! Not bad going for a month filled with illness and winter SAD. 

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Christmas Dinner of Souls – Ross Montgomery
The gorgeous author, Ross, sent me this book and it was a brilliant final book to read this month! It is dark and dastardly and delicious. There’s some brilliant short stories in this and my kids are already going mad for it! Plus there are some incredible illustrations by David Litchfield.

Goodreads
Rated: 5 stars
Devilishly good. Fiendish and delicious. I really loved this. One story with mini scary tales in – Perfect! It would be INCREDIBLE to read aloud to kids too!”

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The Extinction Trials – S.M.Wilson
(release date: Jan 1 2018)

I was very VERY lucky that the lovely humans over at Usborne sent me a copy of this and I just HAD to pick it up one day and I devoured it within a few days. I absolutely ADORED this book. Just exceptional. Storm and Milo are the best. 

Goodreads
Rated: 5 stars 
I absolutely adored this story, from the first page to the last. Dinosaurs, peril, dystopia… what else do you need? I can’t wait to read the second one!!

36472397(not the final cover, but the cover of the proof which I might actually be in love with!)

Sky Song – Abi Elphinstone
(release date: Jan 25 2018)

Again, the gorgeous humans over at Simon and Schuster sent me a proof copy of this about a month or so ago and I wanted to wait until it was cold enough for this. I am SO SO glad I read this. I just absolutely adored it. Abi continually amazes me. Her books are exceptional.

Goodreads
Rated: 5 stars
“This is a story filled with snow, magic, adventure, friendship, finding yourself, your clan and a whole load of hope and courage. I just adored this. Abi has an incredible way of ensuring you get lost in her world, but always feel looked after. I just adored it. 

Plus the acknowledgements had me BAWLING.”

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The Light Jar – Lisa Thompson
(release date: Jan 4 2018)
This was another proof I got that I needed to get into QUICKLY. I love Lisa so much and she just writes so incredibly. This book very nearly broke my heart. I absolutely loved it. One of my boys has this at the minute and he is LOVING it. 

Goodreads
Rated: 5 stars
“An incredible tale about the strength of the human mind, friendship and imagination. I loved this book SO SO MUCH.”

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How To Bewitch a Wolf – Abie Longstaff
Again, this was a book from the lovely people of Scholastic (thank you lovely humans!). I really love Abie Longstaff (as do my twiglets, so this book will be promoted to their shelves) so this was a great read. It’s one of those great books about magic and friendship and hope

Goodreads
Rated: 4 stars
“A great tale of friendship and magic. I know that 10 year old me would love this book. It’s got all the elements of a brilliant book: a great story, loveable characters, witches and magic, warmth and a bit of danger.”

So there we go! I got through some BRILLIANT books in November! It was a MG heavy month, but hey my mood will read what my mood wants to read! I am very much a mood reader. Reviews are to come for all of these books, but I would totally recommend ALL of them (once they’re released, obv)

I’m currently on 101 books read this year; I am DETERMINED to get to 104. I can’t wait for the Christmas break to get some proper reading in! I should be MUCH better by then (let’s forget all of the work I have to do…!)

What did you read in November?
What was your favourite November read?
Are you a mood reader? Or are you great at following your TBR pile?

Talk to me! Comments are lush, twitter chats are lush, emails are lush! 

S x

#DesertIslandBooks – Peadar O Guilin

Good morning everyone! 

Today’s #DesertIslandBooks contender is the brilliant author of one of my favourite books of recent times! Who is it? I hear you bellow! Well it is none other than the brilliant Peadar O Guilin. If you haven’t read The Call yet, then my word get on it. My review for the incredible 1st book in the duology (is that a word?) can be found here: BOOKBLOG: Peadar Ó Guilín) Go check him out on twitter, you’ll find him at @TheCallYA.

DIB rules

“I, Claudius” by Robert Graves.
The ultimate underdog story. Claudius is probably the unconscious inspiration behind several of my own protagonists. The supporting characters are amazing too, especially the terrifying, yet hilarious, Caligula and his grandmother, Livia, the calm poisoner. It’s intrigue all the way until everybody is dead!

“Silver Metal Lover” by Tanith Lee.
I don’t enjoy romance stories very much, and the idea of reading about a girl falling in love with a robot would put any book right to bottom of my TBR. But Tanith Lee’s work is always so rich and intense and in this book, she turned a dodgy premise into a work of genius.

“The Fifth Season” by N.K. Jemisin
I laugh sometimes when I see authors on the internet talk about how dark their work is. Everybody and their dog seems to think this of themselves. None of them has read “The Fifth Season” as far as I can tell. This is world-building at its best and most horrible.

“Black Juice” by Margo Lanagan
I don’t understand everything that happens in a Margo Lanagan short-story. I only know that each and every one of them flicks buttons in my soul and changes me.

“Story of your Life and Others” by Ted Chiang
This is one of the best collections of Science Fiction short stories I have ever read. The title story was the basis for the hit movie “Arrival”, but Ted Chiang’s version is far more effective in my opinion. The other tales are wonderful too.

“The Unfortunate Fursey” by Mervyn Wall
I’ll need a few laughs on my desert island, so for this, I’ll pick Mervyn Wall’s forgotten work of comic insanity, “The Unfortunate Fursey”. A simple medieval monk crosses an Ireland full of Monty Python characters and supernatural creatures. This has to be read to be believed. But only if you can find a rare, precious copy.

Album:
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” by David Bowie — no extra tracks, please!
If I can only take one album it has to be Ziggy Stardust. The whole thing is arranged to tell a story, or rather, to suggest a story that we listeners have to put together ourselves. It’s full of cracking songs, some of which will be famous until the heat death of the universe. But for me, a YA writer with a penchant for dystopia and the post-apocalypse, “Five Years” is the best of all. The lyrics of this song explore the reactions of people on the day everybody learns the Earth is to be destroyed in five years time.

Snack:
Ombar Chocolate bars. Vegan. Tasty. Expensive.

The things I would save? 

The Call and the song Five Years

(Controversial! Didn’t choose The Call, BUT I will let you off Peadar as it is an incredible book!)

Thank you so much Peadar for being involved! 

S x

You can’t stop the beat…

Things that have made me smile recently

The Hairspray soundtrack. Hot showers on a cold day. My kids. Teaching. Learning. Reading. Author friends. Gorgeous morning skies. Snuggling up in a warm bed. Kind words. Book post. The NHS. Tablets that make me better. Getting better. Understanding friends. New friends. Books. Finding a book so magical, you feel like a kid again. Starbucks. Biscuits. Bagels. Minty sweets. Having a job I love. Supportive colleagues. Twitter friends. Cat pictures. Sleep. Festiveness. Michael Buble. Bublemas. Buying Christmas presents. Fairy lights. Chasing my dreams. Pyjamas on the radiator. Dancing twiglets. Blogging. Texts. Letters in the post. Books. Always books. 

Down the TBR hole…

I have seen this meme on my friend Kelly’s blog (check our her most recent Down the TBR hole post here: clicky) and was most curious as to getting started! I had no idea what it was all about, just that it involved your TBR. After checking Lia’s post about the meme (I was a bit clearer!) so thank you Lia for creating and explaining!

It works like this:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if youre feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Now it must be noted that my Goodreads isn’t the most reliable tell of my TBR pile (the books in my bedroom are probably a lot more reliable), as I went through a phase of not using Goodreads. But let’s see!

How To Be A Woman – Catlin Moran

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Apparently this was the first book I ever added as a TBR book on Goodreads. I still haven’t read it, but I do want to. I will KEEP it for now.

Guilty Wives – James Patterson and David Ellis

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I am a massive James Patterson fan (despite not having read much by him recently), but this doesn’t hit a chord anymore so I will REMOVE it.

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants – Ann Brashares

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I see people talking about this all the time and feel it’s one I might enjoy, so like the Caitlin Moran book it can stay for now: I will KEEP it.

It’s a Funny Kind of Story – Ned Vizzini

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I remember adding this around the time I was reading Perks of Being a Wallflower (maybe!). It’s still one I want to read, so I will KEEP it.

My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One Night Stands – Chelsea Handler

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I have NO recollection of adding this! I do like some of Chelsea Handler’s work, but I think this is one I will REMOVE.

Seriously… I’m Kidding – Ellen Degeneres

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I love Ellen Degeneres. I think she’s one of the best humans in the world. I need to get my hands on this, so it will be a book I KEEP.

Boy: Takes of Childhood – Roald Dahl

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I know, I know. I can’t quite believe I ahven’t read this either! I am pretty sure I own a copy of this, and will get round to reading it eventually, so it will be a KEEP.

Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang – Chelsea Handler

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Clearly Goodreads Me likes Chelsea Handler. However, like the other one I think I will REMOVE this. 

The Catcher in the Rye – J.D.Salinger

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This is a book a lot of people talk about, and I just have not got round to buying or reading yet. I do think it is one I will read however, so I will KEEP this for now!

A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess

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Again, this is another kind of classic that I haven’t yet got round to, but I fully intend on one day! For this reason it is a KEEP book. 

That was fun! I kept 7 books and got rid of 3

Which books would you have kept?
Which would you have got rid of?
Have you ever tried to clear out your TBR list?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments, or on twitter!

 S x

Some weeks are better than others…

Monday brings a reflection of the week gone and my word, what a week last week was.

If you didn’t already know, we had Ofsted in. I don’t have much to say about the experience, except it was stressful, frustrating, exhausting and tough. I did lots of teaching (as a student, I’m slightly different to the rest of the staff in terms of observations) and a lot of helping people out. I have very mixed feelings on Ofsted, but those thoughts are for another blog post in the future. There were some positives from the inspection, and some areas to think about. The one thing that is sticking out to me the most however is the absolutely incredible spirit of the brilliant people I work with. The amount of enthusiasm, effort and sheer joy we have every day for our school, our kids… it’s incredible. Find people you love working with, and it will make even the hardest of weeks bearable.

Besides Ofsted, there’s not been much going on. I went on a behaviour training day at a local primary school, situated in one of the most deprived parts of Newcastle. It’s always interesting to go somewhere else and see how they work there, so to see somewhere with similar issues to my own school was brilliant. I took away a lot of ideas and things to think about from the day – for me the best kind of day.

Yet again I’m poorly. This is week 3 of being poorly. It’s exhausting and just frustrating. I want to be better again, but I guess that’s not happening. I’m just hoping that it will all be OK soon!

I want to take a little minute to say thank you to anyone who took time this week to check in how I was. A massive thanks to Mr Johnson for asking me every day, it means a lot. I’m not great at looking after myself and finding ways to swich off, so to have people telling me to do so and checking how I am makes a difference.

So yeah, last week was hard for a multitude of reasons… Christmas in primary schools is lovely though. 

Thanks for sticking with me!

S x