Author spotlight: Laura Steven

Hello, today I have the absolute pleasure of introducing you to Laura Steven, author of the incredible The Exact Opposite of Okay. If you’ve not picked it up yet, please do. It’s absolutely incredible. Laura is here answering 3 quick questions about her book… so I should leave you to it really!

Where did the inspiration for TEOOO come from?

In terms of inspiration, this book was SO different to everything else I’ve ever written (I’d written four full manuscripts before TEOOO).
While my novel ideas usually come to me through plot or world first, Izzy’s voice just popped into my head one morning. Seriously, the hilarious voice of a snarky teenage girl just started chirping away in my head. I felt like I might require an exorcism. So all I had to do was come up with a story for her, and the rest is history.

The plot itself is inspired by a few different things that have happened to me since leaving high school – namely a friend-zoned guy who turned aggressive, a former boss who sexually harrassed me in the workplace. I wanted to explore some of the issues facing teenage girls – slut-shaming, friend-zoning, body image, victim-blaming – but also do with humour and sass. Because life is just more fun – and more bearable – if you can laugh when everything is going to shit.

What is your favourite thing about Izzy?

The way she’s so completely, unapologetically herself. When I was that age, I knew who I wanted to be but I was too scared to be that person. Confident, funny, wise in my own way. So in a sense, I relived my teenage years vicariously through Izzy. She doesn’t care what the world thinks of her as long as she’s true to herself. She also holds her hands up when she makes a mistake and dos whatever it takes to make amends. I adore that in her too – I think when we’ve messed up, it’s human nature to go on the defensive and refuse to admit you were wrong. But Izzy readily admits she acted like a royal twat to someone she loves. That’s kinda cool of her.

What do you want people to take from TEOOO?

Well first of all, I really hope people learn never to touch their foofer after chopping chilis. In all seriousness though, I really want to inspire teenagers to speak up and fight back against the never-ending stream of misogyny diarrhea they have to face on a daily basis. I believe we’re living in a time of huge change, with the Silence Breakers being named TIME’s Person of the Year, the #MeToo campaign gathering so much steam, and powerful men beginning to be held accountable for their sexual harassment. It feels like the tide is finally turning, and I’m so proud to be joining the fight with this book. 

Last week, I also had the pleasure of reading this amazing review by Liam at BookWormHole. For him, TEOOO held up a mirror to some of his past actions, and he was strong, kind and self-aware enough to admit that actually, he probably messed up in the past. I hope that by not shying away from issues like the Friend Zone and Nice Guy Syndrome that I make it easier for teens to spot these toxic themes in action, but also to recognise that behaviour in themselves. I feel like Izzy, with her raw honesty in the face of her own mistakes, would be incredibly proud.



Aspiring comedian Izzy O’Neill never expected to be eighteen and internationally reviled. But when photos involving her, a politician’s son and a garden bench emerge, the trolls set out to take her apart. Armed with best friend Ajita and a metric ton of nachos, she must figure out who’s behind the vicious website – while keeping her sanity intact. Izzy is about to find out that the way the world treats girls is not okay. It’s the Exact Opposite of Okay.

This is a book for anyone who’s ever called themselves a feminist . . . and anyone who hasn’t.  

Buy now from The Book Depository | Add to Goodreads


Image result for laura steven

Laura Steven is an author and journalist from the northernmost town in England. Her writing has appeared in The i Paper, The Guardian and Buzzfeed, and The Exact Opposite of Okay, her YA debut, will be published by Egmont in March 2018. By day, Laura works for Mslexia, a non-profit organisation supporting women writers. She has a BA in Journalism and an MA in Creative Writing, and her TV pilot Clickbait reached the final eight in British Comedy’s 2016 Sitcom Mission. Laura is represented by Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary and Media Inc.

If you’d like to follow Laura (which you should because she’s WONDERFUL) check out her social links… there’s SO MANY places to follow her.

Web | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Tumblr


BOOK BLOG: Laura Steven

The Exact Opposite of Okay: the exact definition of remarkable.


“Izzy O’Neill is an aspiring comic, an impoverished orphan, and a Slut Extraordinaire. Or at least, that’s what the malicious website flying round the school says. Izzy can try all she wants to laugh it off – after all, her sex life, her terms – but when pictures emerge of her doing the dirty with a politician’s son, her life suddenly becomes the centre of a national scandal. Izzy’s never been ashamed of herself before, and she’s not going to start now. But keeping her head up will take everything she has…”

(massive shout out to Waterstones Newcastle for putting this book EVERYWHERE. I hope it sells out quickly)

There had been a lot of buzz around this book, I remember people at YALC last year were going MAD for it. I missed out on getting a proof back then, but when I managed to get my hands on a proof I was ECSTATIC. Guys, this book is INCREDIBLE.

TEOOO opens with the MOST HILARIOUS first chapter. I genuinely cackled SO HARD over the first chapter (I mean, I cackled a lot throughout the whole book, but my introduction to Izzy and her life just had me gripped). You’re introduced to Izzy O’Neill, who I will HAPPILY put my hand up and say is one of my favourite characters I’ve been introduced to in a long time. She’s hilarious, brazen, bold, honest and just brilliant. She’s this bundle of absolute hilarity. Izzy has been written in such an incredible way – there’s this snarky, sarcastic wit about her that I just adored. She’s a girl who is FULL of self doubt. She has so many worries, but she disguises them so well. She puts on a brilliant face. She’s great at making her exterior very opposite to interior. I very quickly grew attached to her. I wanted to know what was going to happen to her INSTANTLY. 

One of the things that I think makes Izzy so special is that she is so relatable. She’s not some rich kid with 70000 ponies and a gold studded car. She’s very normal. She goes to school, she has best friends, she has secret passions, she has crushes. Something goes wrong. She struggles to deal with it. She has people around her who stick with her, some who aren’t as lovely. She gets through it. She’s incredible. I can’t wait to see what’s coming next... because yes guys there’s a TEOOO2 coming. I can not wait

This book is so much more than just Izzy though. Whilst Izzy is IMPERATIVE to me falling in love with this book, there’s a whole host of other people that I loved and hated (in that bookish loving kind of hatred). Let’s just list the characters I love/hate most because I love a list…

  1. Ajita.
    Everyone needs an amazing best friend like Ajita. I loved that Izzy had such an incredible, equally funny, equally sassy best friend like Ajita. I really liked her. There’s brilliant moments of consideration for Ajita’s cultural background that are woven so seamlessly into the book. She’s hilarious, loyal and bold. We’ve all got a friend like Ajita.
  2. Betty.
    Izzy’s exceptional grandmother who just says things like they are. They’re able to be so open with each other. I’m not sure I’m that open with anyone in my life, so to see quite a brazen teenager have this incredible relationship with her grandma was just spot on. Betty isn’t afraid to tell Izzy how it is either. She’s this wonderful mix of warm, supportive, cuddly with a sharp tongue. She keeps it real.
  3. Danny
    Oh Danny. I won’t spoil it for you guys. Danny is just. I can’t. I wanted to be team Danny, but he’s just no. I think reading this book as an adult made me think back. I definitely had a Danny in my life. I’d like to think that I could stand up to any Dannys in my life now. He’s everything that bothers me about self entitled people.
  4. Mrs Crannon
    As a teacher, it is so SO SO SO SO brilliant to see a positive relationship outlined with a teenager. Teachers are so often silent characters in contemporary books, or are part of the problem in teens lives. To see a teacher written in such a positive, encouraging light made my heart so happy.

So… an incredible cast of characters, who you will love or hate? Check.
A book which will make you laugh, cry and be angry in equal measures? Check.

What about dealing with something that is NECESSARY? WELL LET’S SEE.

TEOOO deals with Izzy, who is thrust into the centre of a “slut-shaming, revenge porn, victim shaming and blame culture” situation and IT IS SO NEEDED. This book so brilliantly deals with an issue which, in our technologically sound age, could be a very real problem. Laura deals with it in a very humorous, touching, REAL way. It’s needed. People need to read this. This book is going to make a lot of noise. It’s going to stamp on a load of social barriers. It’s going to make people listen. It’s going to make people talk. It’s going to give people a voice who didn’t have one before. I am very passionate about this book. I will thrust it into the hands of so many people. It needs to be seen by teenagers, teachers, adults… EVERYONE. There is no one who I wouldn’t hand this to. People need to read this. People need to read Izzy’s story. 

I’ve heard Laura speak about TEOOO a few times and she’s such a brilliant speaker. She speaks of this book with such warmth, such passion. She’s just remarkable. Laura is HILARIOUS too. I love that Izzy’s humour is clearly evidence of Laura’s own humour. (If you want other reasons Laura is awesome, may I point you in the direction of #FeminismFriday – Laura Steven)


My goodreads review of TEOOO is all of these things in far fewer words: (I would DEFINITELY give this book all of the stars in the world, if I could)

If I could give this book more than 5 stars I completely would.

Izzy O’Neill is going to make some noise in 2018 and rightfully so. This book is incredible and necessary. It shouts and barks about important issues like revenge porn, victim shaming and blame culture. I just adored it.

Everyone needs to read this book. Buy it.

Have you read The Exact Opposite of Okay?
Did you also have STRONG FEELINGS about Danny? (We need to talk!)
Who was your favourite character?

Talk to me! Tweet me! Send me a postcard, a carrier pigeon, an owl, a text… whatever. This book is one of my faves of 2018 so far. 

S x

March bujo!

Hello March!

You came about quickly… the further this year goes on, the closer I am to qualifying as a teacher. This excites and terrifies me in EQUAL MEASURES. But I’m not here to talk about that today, I’m here to share my March bujo spreads with you all. My bullet journal posts are quickly becoming some of my highest viewed, so thanks for your love for my silly little bujo!

First off I thought I’d share with you February’s finished mood tracker page! I went with hearts and they look very cute all filled in…


Now on to March…

I asked Twitter to be the master of the colour scheme for March and I was pleasantly surprised with the results… I’m not gonna lie, I thought rainbow would win. I may let y’all decide on my bujo colour theme for April… we’ll see! 

bujo tweet


I am a little bit in love with March’s title page. I LOVE the flowers, they are very BATB to me. I think I saw the idea on Google a while ago and it stuck with me. Anything that screams BATB is GRAND with me! 

Next up is my staple ‘Book Post’ page – helps me keep track of the books I receive and reminds me to thank publishers and publicists. Next up, I made a monthly ‘To do’ page – this, I’m hoping, will help me keep track on things. I’m not great at using my weekly to do list, so hoping this one will be better. (It has since got things filled in… LOTS to do in March!!)

Then we have ‘March in moods’ – I’ve gone with bunting and I’m currently using words and smiley/sad faces to depict how I feel. On the next pages I have ‘Cause I’m thankful…’ (name that tune!) – where I track one positive thing a day. I love this page in my bujo. On a really terrible day, it’s lovely to look back. You can always find something positive, no matter how small! I’ve got a new page (because I had a spare page… EEK) so I’ve gone with a page for my blog ideas… who knows what’s going to go on that page guys!


Then, the trusty old weekly spread. This is now a staple in my life. I am still playing around with the layout and the boxes on the right hand page, but tracking my mood throughout the day is BRILLIANT. It’s helped me spot patterns. 

So there we have it! March’s bujo. I only have 1 weekly spread so far, as I kind of skipped the first week because, well, snow took over my life, so no steps to track. My mood suffered because of the snow, but hey ho. Back to work this week has been great!

What’s your theme for March?
Do you do themes?
Would you be brave enough to let Twitter decide on something in your bujo?

Let me see your bujo, tweet me, email me, comment! Let’s talk!

S x

BLOG TOUR: Children of Blood and Bone

Today, I have a very special blog post… 

Today, I’m celebrating the incredible Children of Blood and Bone with a mood board, which I think encapsulates all of the different kinds of maji there are in the book. 

Children of Blood and Bone is one of the most hotly anticipated books I’ve known for a LONG TIME. People have been talking about this for a WHILE. I can’t wait to share my review with you in the coming weeks… guys, it’s incredible. 

“Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.”

I was delighted to be invited onto this blog tour as the prompt was “be as creative as you wish”, so I was. I went back to my trusty Pinterest and came up with this mood board, which I just adore. 


I subconciously went with all hands. I think hands are what all of these maji would’ve commited their magic with – their hands. Hands are important. There’s a whole host of maji which could be represented by the different hands, some which are specific. The golden hands speak to me of welders, using their hands to bend and manipulate metals. Black and white hands with light coming from them speak to me of lighters, able to use their hands to manipulate light and darkness.

The picture with the 3 generations of hands spoke to me of seers, those who can see the past, present and future. The hand with bird told me the story of tamers, using their hands to control and transform animals. The hand with galaxies/moons in them spoke to me of dreams; people who hold the world in their hands, the connector maji, those in control of other’s dreams. The varying pictures of light coming from hands spoke to me of healers (healer and cancer), those who have the power to do exceptional good, let light come from their hands to heal people. 

I think my favourite image is the man controlling the fire with his hands. For me, symbolising burners. Exceptional danger with fire. Controlling the air and the earth (winder and grounder) come next. The image representing the tiders speaks to me of those who control the waters with the touch of their hands, followed by an image for me, which represents reapers – those who have the power to access the spirits of the living and dead, an image of old and young hands

Which maji are you? Take the quiz and share it on twitter using #ChildrenofBloodandBone! I’m a Burner! Excellent! 


Thank you so much to Bea of MyKindaBook and PanMacmillan for inviting me on this blog tour!! I had such fun making this mood board… certainly got my creative juices flowing! 

S x

It’s time to talk…

So recently, I’ve seen a lot of tweets about people having different opinions/opposite opinions/disagreeing over things. I thought I’d share my own thoughts about it because well I have things to say. More people need to say something. I’d love this to turn into an open conversation in the blogging community. I’m going to keep my opinions generalised to books because well, I read lots of books and have lots of opinions on books. I have a lot of passion about books.

Here goes…

Imagine the scenario, I am PASSIONATE about a book. I loved it, I talk about it all the time, it’s one of my favourites in the world, I can’t wait to talk to everyone else about it… I know it’s hard to imagine me ever being like that, but bear with me. I’ve gone on about it and you’ve been curious, so you buy it. You read it and it doesn’t spark a love in you like it did me. You get to the end and you’ve thought, “meh, I didn’t get it” or even “gosh, I disliked that immensely”. 



You’ve got a differing opinion to me, there’s a few options of what can happen:

  1. Nothing.
    In which case, brilliant. No harm, no foul. Whatever. You want to remain quiet, this is cool. 
  2. We can have a chat.
    You send a text/DM/email (depending how close we are) and you TALK TO ME about how you felt about the book. We have a little conversation. I will listen to you. I will ask questions. I’ll answer your questions. I’ll talk to you. I’ll want to be listened to. If we leave the conversation having differing opinions, then that’s fine. That’s life. (I would generally recommend this is done privately, not a tweet). 
  3. You can write an honest review about what you thought (that you didn’t like it) AND tag the author in it.
    Not cool. I’m cool with your honest review, just don’t go tagging the author in a negative review. They don’t need that hate. I’ll go off you quickly.
  4. You drag me through the mud because I loved it and you didn’t.
    This again is not cool. But if that’s what you want to do, then cool. Your call.

Which option makes the most sense? (Spoiler alert: I would go with 2)

I’d like to make a general sweeping statement that people in general will listen to you. Yes, there’ll be people who just will not listen to your opinion – these people probably aren’t worth talking to in general. I am yet to come across a book blogger who wouldn’t have an open conversation about a book they loved/hated. Book bloggers are wonderful people who just want to shout about the books they love the most. They may be able to point out things you missed; they may be able to unknot some of the problems you have with the book… matterless, they’ll listen and talk to you. 

My passion for a book can’t be diminished because you didn’t like it. Just as your love of a book shouldn’t be impacted by my dislike of it. I’ve disliked books that my friends love and the chats we’ve had have been EXCELLENT. Having a chat about your problems with a book will make whoever you’re talking to think harder about their book… it’ll probably make them love their book more

I’m all for writing honest reviews, I am not taking that away from anyone. I am however massively against writing an honest negative review and then tagging an author in it. They don’t need that kind of hate out there. They’ve spent months, maybe years, writing this book. You are well within your rights to love or hate it. Just don’t tell them if it’s the latter. I think the different opinions we have make this book community we’re all part of so much richer. I think me disliking books that others love is FINE. It’s cool. We aren’t all the same. We aren’t all going to like the same books. That is FINE. In fact, it’s GOOD FOR THE BOOK COMMUNITY. If we all liked the same books, all agreed with our opinions, there’d be no chat, no open lines of communication. 

Basically… like the books you want, have the opinions you want, but don’t be an arse about them. Conduct yourself in an appropriate manner. Own your opinions and accept that people will want to talk about it. That’s healthy. It keeps this community going. 

So please, this is an open plea from me… if you’ve disliked a book I loved, I want to talk about it. I want to listen. I want to be a better blogger/reader/friend. Your opinion won’t affect the way I think of you or the book. The way you act WILL… MASSIVELY

S x

S4S – Stuck in a lift?!


It is I, the Sunday fairy. I have returned to your shores once again. Where did the week go? Who even knows? I am here now, to bless you with a #SixforSunday post! 

Today I’m thinking about:

Characters I would like to be stuck in a lift with

So 6 characters I would like to be stuck in a lift with, for a variety of reasons!

  1. Twylla – The Sin Eater’s Daughter trilogy
    Oh man, I love this girl. One of my favourite YA protagonists. She’s wonderful and incredible and badass. I’d like to talk to her about so much from the trilogy.
  2. Jin – Rebel of the Sands trilogy 
    Let’s be honest, I’d like to be stuck in a lift with JUST Jin. I’m sure we could find some way to fill the time. Talking, obviously. And he could teach me to shoot.
  3. Wing Jones – Wing Jones, obv.
    This girl is brilliant. She’s strong, she’s brave and she could give me some brilliant running tips. I would LOVE to be a runner and she would give me some brilliant poiunters.
  4. Ceony – The Paper Magician trilogy
    This woman is wonderful. I’d probably just ask her to do magic for me for the entirity of the being stuck. If she brought Emery along too… I wouldn’t complain!
  5. Katie – The Fandom
    I feel Katie and I would get on swimmingly, if anything we would have a total laugh. I would appreciate her company. I’d learn a lot of new swearwords and she would keep me entertained!
  6. Moonbeam – After the Fire
    Man, I have SO MANY QUESTIONS for this girl. SO SO MANY. Cults fascinate me, so I’d just turn it into a bit of a Q&A session. No lies. I think she’d be fascinating to spend some time with. 

THIS WAS FUN. There are so so many other characters I wouldn’t mind being stuck in a lift with. 

Share yours with me! I would love to see who you would choose. Don’t forget to share on twitter using the hashtag #SixforSunday. Thank you to everyone who is joining in with my silly little Sunday thing. You’re all brilliant.

S xx

State of Sorrow mood board


It’s another State of Sorrow post, obviously. I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s review! I HOPE YOU BOUGHT IT, or are considering it! 

The last mood board I made was for one of Mel’s other books (The Scarecrow Queen, see that mood board here: BLOG TOUR: The Scarecrow Queen) and I had such fun that I decided I would do another one here for State of Sorrow. Don’t worry, this is going to be as spoiler free as possible! 

Sorrow moodboard

This bunch of pictures for me depicts the characters, plot and emotions for me so well. There’s a mix of Sorrow, her family, her enemies in this collection of pictures. The castle, the bridge, the water: they speak of the setting. Setting the tone and building the world were so well done in State of Sorrow (obviously, this is Mel) that you definitely feel like you’re there. A world of perpetual sadness. Dull, dark, distraught. I used a lot of eyes in this mood board: unintentionally. The brown eye speaks of Sorrow’s brother, the eyes of the old man are Sorrow’s dad – a lost man; lost in his own darkness. The green eye spoke to me of Sorrow – the sky her hopes, the trees her growing, the birds her desire to be free of the mourning, the tears her being dragged into the repetitive past. The eyes of the rugged man bottom right (who I think I recognise, let me know if you can tell me who this is!) shouted the villain of the story – haunting, horrid, hateful. He’s a mean man. Sorrow, the story, tells of a complex family, a mourning nation, a glimpse of hope doused in tears. There’s secrets, lies and a magical feel in the book. Sorrow is an incredible character. I have hopes that she will in fact rise and roar in the second book. 

S xx


BLOG TOUR: Matt Killeen

Today I have the utter pleasure of hosting the author of Orphan, Monster, Spy on my blog: Matt Killeen! He’s here today to talk to you about one of his female heroes! The rest of the blog tour has been fascinating and I have loved reading all of Matt’s other posts! When this one arrived in my inbox I was very excited to read it!

I hand you over to Matt’s words now…


Ada Lovelace

Some visionaries are so ahead of their time that they can seem laughable, even insane. One such man was Charles Babbage. In 1822, he designed a sophisticated calculating machine that promised to change the world but just could not get his crap together. So intricate was Babbage’s Difference Engine that it was forever unfinished, exhausting the pockets and patience of the British Government and London society that once fêted him, even as he dreamed of the Analytical Engine which was, basically, the first programmable computer.

People like this need an early adopter. There was one person that truly understood him, and his inventions and she was also a visionary. She went far beyond the cogs and gears of the physical and predicted the entire information technology age.

Ada Gordon was born the daughter of “mad, bad & dangerous to know” poet Lord Byron and maths geek Annabella Milbanke, after a whirlwind and disastrous marriage of science and the arts. With a childhood designed to mitigate any of her father’s “poetical” or chaotic tendencies that bordered on abusive, she inherited her mother’s love of logic and mathematics, but also more than a little of his imagination.

She was fascinated from an early age by machines and mechanics and the numbers behind them, which is why, at 18 years old, she ended up at a party where her mentor Mary Somerville introduced her to Babbage. Babbage’s machines were so complex that few people could even understand the basic principles, let alone see what their application might mean, so they became firm friends and collaborators. For Babbage it was all about the numbers, but it didn’t take Ada long to swap those numbers for broader more metaphysical concepts. What she saw was a world where machines could be told to think. Make decisions. Write and perform music.

The scale of her contribution is hotly debated. It is widely believed that she wrote the very first computer programme, and certainly she perfected it. Her work directly influenced Alan Turing, whose work helped define the information age, although she didn’t believe in conscious machines or computers that could create, a contention that it took Turing 107 years to rebut. Seven decades later we’re still arguing about what that might mean. Indisputably, she was a prophet. She saw the future and she described it. How it would work. What it would do.

Her wealth and privilege allowed her to study with some great minds and to promote Babbage’s ideas, but this was no substitute for real academic rigour and research. One can only guess at what her brain would have created had she been born in a different era, of equal educational opportunities and longer lives.

And she was not without her vices…she was Lord Byron’s daughter after all. She had a string of affairs and sexual encounters, as well as a serious gambling problem and it was the latter that highlighted her limits – it transpired that she did in fact have some. She simply refused to believe there wasn’t a mathematical solution for effective betting on the horses. In pursuing finances for Babbage’s work, she became mired in financial scandal, losing a fortune of her syndicate’s money and then chasing her losses. She was bemused and frustrated by her inability to unravel this Gordian knot, when so many other mathematical mysteries uncoiled themselves effortlessly in her brain. It was an ignominious and uncharacteristically unsuccessful end, coming as it did just a year before she died of cancer at just 36.

Admittedly, I can’t think of Augusta Ada King-Noel, Countess of Lovelace without thinking of Sydney Padua’s The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage. This glorious fictionalised account of her work, culminates in them using the completed analytical engine to fight crime for Queen Victoria in an alternative timeline. It always felt like the future she should have had, rather than the hobbled, overlooked and all-too short time on an Earth that would come to depend on the things that she envisioned.


Check out the rest of the blog tour – there’s some amazing bloggers and some brilliant blog posts to read too! My review is coming soon too, so keep an eye out for that! 


S x

BOOKBLOG: Melinda Salisbury


You really thought you could get away from me? You really think I wouldn’t celebrate this majestic day with some kind of State of Sorrow appreciation post? 

Today, I will share my review with you. There will be more State of Sorrow themed posts coming in the next few days. I am not sorry at all. 


State of Sorrow: delicious, deceptive, daring

A people cowed by grief and darkness.
A cut-throat race for power and victory.
A girl with everything and nothing to lose…

Sorrow all but rules the Court of Tears, in a land gripped by perpetual grief, forever mourning her brother who died just days before Sorrow was born. By day she governs in place of her father, by night she seeks secret solace in the arms of the boy she’s loved since childhood. But when her brother is seemingly found alive, and intent on taking control, Sorrow has to choose whether to step aside for a stranger who might not be who he claims to be, or embark on a power struggle for a position she never really wanted.”

Hello. My name is Steph and Melinda Salisbury is my absolute queen.
(I feel like I open all of my Melinda Salisbury blog posts like that, but it’s true.)

So, I went into reading State of Sorrow ignoring the blurb. I won’t lie. I am a bit of a blurb ignorer. I’d read the sampler for State of Sorrow, which I got at YALC, a few months ago and I knew I was in for another absolute barrage of emotions, badass brilliant characters, an evil villain and a whole load of incredible world building. AND I WAS ALL ABOUT IT. There’s a MASSIVE surprise with her brother, which I did not see coming. I DID NOT KNOW IT WOULD HAPPEN, I HAD IGNORED THIS (it’s on the blurb/synopsis apparently). Therefore when I read I WAS THE MOST SURPRISED. It was like BAM KABLAM. SLAP IN THE FACE BRILLIANT. Like, I wasn’t expecting it. But my gosh was it brilliant.

So, Sorrow. She’s a brilliant young woman. She’s unwillingly doing a job her father should be – ruling a land that are in constant mourning for a brother lost years before. She’s living in the shadow of his sadness. She’s in love with a young man she can’t really be seen with. She’s fighting losing battles against people she can’t influence. Her father is pretty useless, with a venomous man whispering in his ear. Sorrow just wants it to be time when she’s finally in control, so she can get rid of the venomous letch. Speaking of our friend, the venomous letch. He’s POISON. He’s the thing Mel does so well. She does wily, deceptive, sly characters brilliantly. They’re just there weaving their wily little plans. They’re plotting and scheming all the way through. He made me uncomfortable, but in that very excellent way that good baddies do. He’s like a sly fox.Doing dirty deeds all over, poisoning minds. 

OK, so there are more characters than this in State of Sorrow. There’s a brilliant character who all the way through I was like “YES I LOVE YOU, TEAM YOU” and then they do something bad and my reaction to this was nothing short of “WHAT ARE YOU DOING NO WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU”. There may be some redemption though. I’m not saying for definite. Sorrow has some brilliant friends too. Irris is pretty special. I really quite liked her. 

Mel writes incredible characters. 
Mel writes incredible plots.
Mel writes incredible emotions. 
Mel writes incredible worlds.

There’s this remarkable sense of BEING in the book. The world is built so incredibly well around you that you’re immersed entirely in this world of a mournful world: the castles, the lands, the sorrow, the monotony. You can’t NOT be there. The lands have history, they have meaning, they make sense. There’s always something magical and slightly mysterious going on. From incredible expanses of land, the small cottages, to freezing cold rivers…it all fits in this magical land where sorrow rules. 

WHILE YOU’RE STILL HERE… canwe just talk about emotions?If you’re reading a Melinda Salisbury book I can guarantee that your emotions will not be in tact by the end of your stay. Your heart will be stood on, repaired and then stood on again. There’s sheer disbelief; there’s contempt; there’s love and lust; there’s belief and disbelief and there’s this incredible sense of belonging. We’re all going through these emotions together. We are all shocked. There’s a lot of YES SORROW going on. You can’t NOT root for her. You can’t NOT want her to succeed. You can’t NOT be appalled at the behaviour of some of the characters. You can’t NOT be sad. There’s this incredible balance of being looked after, being secure and them BAM NOTHING IS THE SAME. I’m a massive fan of this. If you’ve read The Sin Eater’s Daughter trilogy you’ll know what I mean.


Look at my happy little face. This was me reading State of Sorrow in Starbucks. Thanks @kellysrambles for the picture!

Are you still here?Excellent, I have more to tell you. I hope you’re enjoying this review. It may be my longest review to date. I don’t apologise for this. State of Sorrow is totally worth it. 

So what have I told you about so far? Sorrow, some other characters, worldbuilding, emotions. What else? SO MUCH. Oh yes… plot.

As I’ve said, I was OBLIVIOUS to one of the plot twists (which the blurb gives away, I was just oblivious to this), however State of Sorrow does not just have ONE plot twist there are SO SO MANY that it’s exceptional. The pace of this book is brilliant. You get comfy in one little plot line and BAM there’s a change. Some of the twists are just little, a bump in the road and then there’s others that just hit you hard on the head and spin your world upside down. The way this story is woven together is exceptional. (I don’t have enough superlatives for this book). Everything fits. It’s tantalisingly good. The ending will make you go NO DON’T END THERE. PLEASE DON’T END THERE. 

I can’t believe we’re being made to wait for more. I can’t wait for more. 

My goodreads review reads:

If it was possible to give a book more than 5 stars I would. This book is delicious, deceptive and daring. I absolutely love Sorrow and everything she stands for. There are more twists and turns in this book than I can count. I can’t explain how brilliant this plot, this world, these characters (you’ll love some, hate others), this story weaving is. Just incredible. I can’t WAIT for the next one. The ending of this is TANTALISING. I NEED MORE NOW.

If you want a story that will take you to an incredible new land with sibling rivalry, brilliant characters and an exceptional plot then PLEASE check out State of Sorrow. I was very lucky to be sent a copy and I am so grateful. Thanks, Mel!

Thank you for getting to the end of my review. If you made it this far I owe you a sticker. Please let me know in the comments if you got this far. 

S x

February in books

We come to the end of February. There are no days of February left (except today!). Today I’m sharing the books I read in February! 

(If you’d like to see January’s round up… check out January in books)

How was your February everyone? What did you get up to?

In February, I…

Had half term.
Read 12 books

Was quite poorly.
Read a fair few books.
Listened to The Greatest Showman soundtrack a lot.
Went to see Love, Simon and cried, a lot.

So how did I get on with my books in February?

MG books
When The Mountains Roared – Jess Butterworth (proof copy, will DEFINITELY be buying a finished copy when it’s out!)
Tin – Padraig Kenny 
Max and the Millions – Ross Montgomery (one of my fave kid’s authors… I shall be getting a finished copy asap)
Make More Noise – various brilliantly badass women
The Wild Robot – Peter Brown
Twister – Juliette Forrest (another proof copy!)
Nothing to See Here Hotel – Steven Butler 

YA books
Where The World Ends – Geraldine McCaughrean (not sure if this is YA or MG, I’m going YA just to be safe!)
A Thousand Perfect Notes – CG Drews (another proof copy which I will be FOR SURE getting a finished copy of, this book is incredible)
The Wicked Deep – Shea Ernshaw (YES GUYS GET ON THIS)
Out of the Blue – Sophie Cameron (a beautiful proof cover that I just like to stare at for hours)

Another month of more kids books than YA books… BUT I am still happy with 4 YA books in a month! I am SMASHING my book challenge goal! 

What about my book challenges?

#BritishBooksChallenge: 14/12 (maybe more!)
#52books2018: 13/52
Goodreads challenge: 25/52

February was an excellent month for books. Thanks half term and my own sheer stubbornness! 

How are you getting along with your book challenges?
What was your favourite read in February?
Can you recommend me any books to read in March?

Comment me ideas. Tweet me (@eenalol). Follow me on instagram (@eenalol) to check out the books I’m reading… plus sneak peeks at my bookpost!

S x