BOOK BLOG: Ali Sparkes

Night Speakers: a magical tale of finding friends and allies in unsuspecting places

Night after night Elena, Matt and Tima wake at exactly the same time, with no idea why. It’s messing them up and fracturing their lives … until they venture out into the dark and find each other. And then the sleepless trio realize their astounding power – they can speak any language; they can even communicate with animals. But something is happening over on the industrial estate – something which is emitting sounds that only they can hear, and killing any winged thing that crosses its path. There’s nobody to fight it but themselves, for only they can possibly understand it and what it means to do … 

Imagine being woken up at 1:34am every day (I hate waking up at any point during the night, so knowing that I was going to wake up at 1:34 every night would DRIVE ME MAD). Imagine not knowing WHY you’re waking up. Imagine there being a strange feeling around. There’s something not right. Someone’s watching you. Or is it something? You’re not really sure. 

This is what is happening to the teenagers in this book. They’re all awake in the middle of the night. Initially, there’s nothing to think of it… but when they get their heads together, they share that they’re all awake at the same time. Things start to happen. They meet in the dead of the night to try and figure out why they’re awake. What is going on to make them be awake? Why just them? Why do they all feel like they’re being watched? Why do they feel like they need to fight?

Not only do the teens have to contend with this waking up lark, but there’s also a discovery that they can communicate with things they’d not been able to before. Imagine being able to speak to animals. Imagine them understanding what you were saying. That’s some power that is. These brilliant teenagers have that. It so easily could be used for bad, or good… the battle between good and evil roars on. An ability to communicate with nature, not just animals, is explored in this brilliant book too. (I can’t decide if I’d embrace or shy away from this ability…)

The characters are brilliant. They’re each very defined and distinct. Some conflicting personality traits, but like everything, seeing the overall picture is the one important thread. They were gutsy and brave. They made decisions that adults definitely wouldn’t. They took risks. I read this book with a bit of admiration for them. Kids are brilliant protagonists as they still have this awe and wonder about the world – sometimes lacking in adult characters. I distinctly remember one scene making me cry too… 

I absolutely adored the imagery and the use of language in this book too. It was one of those cases of “getting lost in the world” and I think it’s exceptionally well written. The slow and steady feeding of information and images through the book keeps you wanting to read, to find out what happens next. To find out what this big evil is. To find out if the kids manage in their quests to overcome the evil. 

I’m massively looking forward to more from this series… I’m hoping it is a series! I’d love to meet these kids and their friends again. 

Thank you so much to OUP for sending me a review copy! 

Would you like to be able to talk to animals?
Which animal would you like to speak to most?

Let me know in the comments, or on twitter! I’d love to talk about this magical book! You know how I feel about magical books… 

S x

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BLOG TOUR: The House With Chicken Legs

Today I have the absolute joy of hosting the brilliant Sophie Anderson, author of the gorgeous The House with Chicken Legs, on my blog. She’s here to talk all about one of her favourite Russian fairy tales and what it means to her. 

House with Chicken Legs jacket

The House with Chicken Legs is BRILLIANT. My review will follow in the coming days, but I can not wait for you all to read it because it’s an incredible story which kids and adults alike can adore. Can we also appreciate that cover please?!

Fifteen Russian Fairy Tales and What They Mean to Me

The Cat Who Became Head-Forester (on the dangers of a single narrative)

‘If you drop Vladimir by mistake, you know he always falls on his feet …’

In this Russian fairy tale, retold and published by Arthur Ransome in 1916, Vladimir is a tomcat who is always fighting. He has lost an ear in a fight and is ‘not very pretty to look at’. His owner decides to get rid of him, bundles him into a sack, and abandons him deep in the forest.

Vladimir tears his way out of the sack and sets off to explore the forest. He was head-cat in the village he came from and decides he shall be head of the forest too, so walks along like ‘the Tsar himself’. He finds an abandoned forester’s hut and moves in. When hungry, he catches birds and mice in the forest, and when tired he sleeps in the hay loft. But he is not content, as he must catch all his own food and do all the work for himself.

One day, Vladimir meets a pretty young vixen and tells her his name is Cat Ivanovitch and that he has been sent from the far forests of Siberia to be Head-forester over all. The vixen is impressed and invites Vladimir to her earth, where she feeds him tasty game. She asks to be his wife, and spends each day catching game for her grand husband.

While hunting, the vixen meets her old friend Wolf and tells him about her new husband, the Great Cat Ivanovitch, Head-forester over all. Wolf wants to pay his respects, so the vixen tells him to leave a sheep near their earth. Next, the vixen meets Bear and tells him to leave an ox as an offering to her husband, the Great Cat Ivanovitch.

Wolf and Bear leave their offerings near the earth and decide to hide nearby, hoping to get a glimpse of the Great Cat Ivanovitch. Wolf hides amongst dead leaves beneath a bush, and Bear climbs to the top of a fir tree.

Vladimir emerges from the earth and begins eating the ox, purring as he does so. Wolf moves his head, attempting to get a better look, and the leaves around him rustle. Vladamir stops eating and listens. Thinking the rustling is a mouse, Vladamir leaps onto Wolf’s nose with claws extended.

Wolf yelps and Vladimir, startled, darts up the fir tree. Bear, at the top of tree, thinks the Great Cat Ivanovitch is attacking him and jumps down, breaking branches and bones along the way. Wolf and Bear run off, terrified and …

‘Ever since then all the wild beasts have been afraid of the cat, and the cat and the fox live merrily together, and eat fresh meat all the year round, which the other animals kill for them and leave a little way off.’

When I first heard this tale, I wasn’t quite sure what to think. I started off feeling sorry for poor Vladimir, abandoned in the forest. But he lands on his feet, and by the end of the story is head of all the forest. I wondered if I was meant to admire his tenacity and resourcefulness; his ability to turn his luck around.

But how he achieves success is morally questionable. He lies to the vixen, and is lazy, making her do all the hunting. By the end of the story I felt sorry for the vixen, the wolf and the bear, who had all been lied to and tricked into hunting for Vladimir. However, I also felt they were partially responsible; for believing Vladimir without question, and for wanting to ingratiate themselves with the Great Cat Ivanovitch. I felt particularly cross with the vixen, as she offered to marry Vladimir simply because he was Head-forester, and she perpetuated his lies. 

It seemed to me they might all be in the wrong; Vladimir for lying, and the others for believing him. But then again, it didn’t seem fair to blame the others for simply being trusting. After all, I don’t think it would be good to assume everyone we meet is lying to us. The story made me think about trust versus suspicion, and at what point it is important to do some fact checking.

Certainly, before you marry someone, or work for them, or repeat what they have told you as fact, I think it is a good idea to be sure they are being honest. The vixen, the wolf, and the bear, only ever hear Vladimir’s story – that he is Head-forester – and accept that as fact. But if they had checked his story, done a little research, listened to the thoughts and opinions of others, perhaps they wouldn’t have been fooled so easily.

As I have grown older, this lesson has become only more relevant. The internet has appeared and grown to unbelievable proportions. Endless information is out there, easily accessible, yet still people are fooled by cats like Vladimir. Still people share information without fact checking, like the vixen. And still people rise to power through morally questionable actions.

Perhaps if we all sought out and listened to more than one side of every story, then cats like Vladimir (or Trump) wouldn’t have so much power.

The Cat Who Became Head-Forester can be found in Old Peter’s Russian Tales, written by Arthur Ransome, published by Puffin.

Sophie Anderson - new author pic

The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson publishes in paperback, 3 May, £6.99 from Usborne.

 

 

Go check out the rest of the blog tour, there are sure to be more incredible stories like this one to be shared! 

Chicken Legs Tour Graphic

S x

#EasterReadathon round up

During Easter weekend, the brilliant Kate (of Reading Through Infinity fame) was hosting the #EasterReadathon. I don’t know if I ever officially signed up… I didn’t have a TBR. I’m very much a mood reader. However… I had a VERY productive #EasterReadathon, so I thought I would share the books I read with their synopsis and short thoughts about the books! Full reviews will come in time, do not fear guys. 

During #EasterReadathon I managed to read 7 books. 7 books in 4 days is not bad going!

Book 1
The Company of Eight – Harriet Whitehorn 

(left: my proof copy/right: finished cover)

“When Ravellous’s Circus Ship comes to Minaris, Cass is determined to audition despite her guardian Mrs Potts’s disapproval. But when her chance is snatched away from her, Cass refuses to give up. She sets out to follow the Circus Ship and the journey leads her into dangers that challenge even her adventurous spirit. Will she succeed in following her dream, or is her destiny something altogether different?”

I really enjoyed this. It was fast paced and full of danger and peril. The main character was really likeable, I want to be her friend! The language was beautifully rich. I want to join the company! Sword fighting and badass women? SIGN ME UP. Thank you so much Stripes for my proof copy!

Book 2
Spark – Alice Broadway

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“Leora is reeling: questioning everything she has ever known about her family and herself. As half-Marked and half-Blank, can she ever wholly belong in either fractured community? Mayor Longsight wants to use her as a weapon: to infiltrate Featherstone, home of the Blanks, and deliver them to him for obliteration. Leora longs for answers about her mysterious birth mother, and Featherstone may reveal them. But will she find solace and safety there or a viper’s nest of suspicion and secrets?”

Man. I have COMPLEX emotions about this book. I love Leora so much. I just can’t process how I feel about this book yet. A full review of this is to come because I can’t put into words how much I loved it. The story telling, the world building, the interwoven fairytales (comnpare these to Ink and your brain will explode). It’s just majestic. I love Alice so much. I can’t wait for book 3 of this trilogy… I only have to wait a year!

Book 3
The Storm Keeper’s Island – Catherine Doyle

(left: my proof copy/right: finished cover)

“Fionn Boyle and his older sister Tara have been sent to stay with their grandfather on the remote island of Arranmore for the summer. Though Fionn has never met his grandfather before – an eccentric old man who lives in a tiny cottage filled to the brim with candles – he knows he comes from a long line of brave lifeboat men, who wear the sea behind their eyes. Fionn is scared of the sea. He has no interest in adventure or shipwrecks or the restless wind that rustles through the island, as though in search of something. But an old magic is stirring deep inside the layers of Arranmore, and it is calling out to Fionn.”

This book is INCREDIBLE. I read it in a matter of hours. I just adored it. Fionn is a remarkable young man – his progression from scared young man, to quite a brave and bold man is wonderful. The magic, the island, the mystical nature of the situation, the relationships with his family. I can’t wait for this to come out (July, I believe!) and everyone to experience this wonderousness. (A full review will come closer to release!) Thank you so much to Kids Bloomsbury for my proof! 

Book 4
Skylarks – Karen Gregory

“When she was little, Joni used to have dreams that she could fly. But these days her feet are firmly on the ground – they have to be when money’s tight and her dad can’t work and the whole family has to pull together to keep afloat. Then she meets Annabel. Annabel is everything Joni isn’t, and yet there’s a spark between them. Though Joni barely believes it at first, she thinks they might be falling in love. But when Annabel’s parents find out about the relationship, it’s clear they believe there are some differences that are impossible to overcome…”

This was an interesting one! I absolutely ADORED Countless by Karen Gregory (even now it makes me blub thinking about it!) and was looking forward to this! Skylarks explores social class, injustice and the power of money. It’s refreshing to read something where the person is a little bit more real. It packs a punch too. I love the Cooper family a lot. Thank you so much to Kids Bloomsbury for my proof!

Book 5
The Buried Crown – Ally Sherrick

“It’s World War Two and Britain is on the brink of invasion. Londoner George has been sent to live in in the countryside while his brother and guardian, Charlie, fights overseas. But the war is closer than he thinks. An ancient burial ground nearby contains a priceless treasure, a magical Anglo-Saxon crown Hitler is desperate to possess. Alongside Kitty, the granddaughter of a Jewish archaeologist, George must find and protect the crown from the Nazi invaders before it’s too late…”

This was a SURPRISE entry. The lovelies of Chicken House sent it over to me and the gold made me pick it up. AND MY WORD, WHAT A BOOK. I absolutely adored it. It was full of adventure. I’m a sucker for a WW2 book, so this was RIGHT UP MY ALLEY. A brave young man protecting something unique from the hands of Hitler himself? YES PLZ. Memorable characters and a brilliant plot – watch out for a full review coming up!

Book 6
Me Mam. Me Dad. Me

“Danny’s mam has a new boyfriend. Initially, all is good – Callum seems nice enough, and Danny can’t deny he’s got a cool set up; big house, fast car, massive TV, and Mam seems to really like him. But cracks begin to show, and they’re not the sort that can be easily repaired. As Danny witnesses Mam suffer and Callum spiral out of control he goes in search of his dad. The Dad he’s never met.”

I don’t want to say too much about this because I have a blog post coming up about it, but I need to tell you guys how much I loved it. Look, I’m a Geordie. There are VERY FEW books set in Geordieland. To read a book written by a Geordie, set in Geordieland, with a LIKEABLE Geordie main character is a rare occurance for me. This story had my guts in knots for 99% of the time. I love Danny. So much. Thank you so much Head of Zeus for sending this to me. It’s made an imprint in my heart.

Book 7
Max the Detective Cat: The Disappearing Diva

“Max, chief mouse-hunter at the Theatre Royal, is up to his whiskers in his first mystery! Max is a pampered cat, used to the finer things in life, until a fun mouse chase goes badly wrong and he finds himself scruffy and alone and hiding out at the Theatre Royal. It’s here that Max takes on his first case as a detective cat, when he notices that famous singer Madame Emerald is acting strangely. Why is her maid so terrified? And what kind of singer doesn’t like to sing in public? Soon Max is trapped in a complicated web of crime, dashing round dancers’ legs and over the rooftops of London in a race to catch a clever thief…”

The lovely Nosy Crow gang sent me this book and it was a properly fun caper. It gave me such Aristocat vibes too, in the very best way. I really enjoyed it. Super readable and interesting. The illustrations were great too! A detective cat, living in a theatre, foiling a theft? Yes please! 

And there you have it! My haul of #EasterReadathon books! I don’t always get through 7 books in one weekend, I’ll have you know! It’s a testament to how brilliant these books were that I got through them all! Thanks so much Kate for hosting! 

Did you join in #EasterReadathon?
How many books do you reckon you could get through in a weekend?
Are there any on this list you’ve read, or would like to read?

Speak to me! Comment me, tweet me! 

S x

YAShot 2018

Last weekend saw the brilliant day of YAShot finally come upon us and what a day it was! From authors to awards, coffee to chilling, friends to feelings… lots of fun was had by all.

YAShot is a brilliant, one day bookish event held in Uxbridge, which features tons of brilliant authors doing panels, workshops and in conversation events. There’s also the chance to go to signings and generally just have a lovely bookish day! I went down with my gorgeous Kelly on the Friday and we met some fellow bloggers for tea. It was so lovely to meet some new faces – ones I’ve been talking to forever online! That’s the other beauty of these events… people who you talk to online become people you’ve spoken to in real life. There’s nothing quite so surreal as “You’re Steph, aren’t you?”. Yeah, that’s weird. 

On Saturday, Kelly and I had arranged to do ALL of the same panels because that’s us. We come as a pair now.

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The first panel we went to was Power, Privilege & Inequality, which saw Helena Coggan, Mark Huckerby, Vic James, Nick Ostler and Samantha Shannon, chaired by Phyllida Shrimpton. It’s always interesting to hear people talk about their books. Having read Gilded Cage, I was excited to hear Vic James speak. I now need to read some of the other books because the authors made some interesting points!

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The next panel we stayed for was How relationships shape women’s lives featuring Holly Bourne, Emma Craigie, Leila Rasheed & Sufiya Ahmed. It’s always really interesting hearing about different authors and their influences behind their books. I love hearing Holly Bourne talk, she’s so effortlessly cool and funny. There were some very interesting points made in this chat, which hit quite close to something that was going on in the YA world at that time.

I then found myself sauntering off to Uxbridge Library to hear my absolute fave Melinda Salisbury talk with Alwyn Hamilton about their books. The title of the ‘in Conversation’ was Stories for Change. I just adore these two women and their books. It was so gorgeous to listen to Mel and Alwyn talk together about their books with such love. It was clear from the conversation that they’re both clearly fans of each other’s books! Hearing interesting information from the two ladies, along with a lot of laughter is ALWAYS a good thing.

Following the in conversation with Mel and Alwyn, Kelly and I went down to get some books signed! We both took our Goodbye Perfect proofs and finished copies to get signed and Sara Barnard was darling enough to sign them both! It’s mad seeing authors I love for reals actually recognise me and WANT to speak to me. We also pestered Mel and Alwyn for a moment or two… sorry signing queues!

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After a quick bit of lunch and a cup of coffee with a friend, we then checked out Privacy, entertainment & technology featuring Lauren James, Laura Steven (who is just a babe, I love her a lot), Nicci Cloke & Kerry Drewery. There were interesting conversations had around portayals of social media in books, the dangers of technology and why its important that they’re included in YA books.

Then there was a mad dash to go get signings from Laura and Lauren back at the library!

In our bags was a 10% off code for Waterstones Uxbridge, so Kelly and I took this time off to go and explore Waterstones and see what delights they had for us. We both picked up In Your Light by Annalie Grainger after the recommendation from none other than Katherine Webber (who is a firm fave of ours!)
Image result for In Your Light

The final panel we watch was Family, Faith & Identity featuring Sita Brahmachari, Simon James Green, Antonia Honeywell, chaired by the gorgeous Katherine Webber. This was a brilliant panel, which at one point I definitely did not cry at. Story telling is amazing and I am definitely moved by it… a lot!

And there you go! Those were all of the in conversation and panels I went to at YAShot. Come back tomorrow to find out all about the UKYABAs!

S x

Reading Habits book tag

Hello!

How are we all today? Have you been having a good week? What have you been upto this week?

Last week, my lovely friend Kelly (of Kelly’s Rambles fame) tagged me in this “Reading Habits” tag and it was so interesting to read her ideas that I thought I’d give it a go too! Thanks Kelly, I’m not tagging anyone in particular, but go for it if you’d like to!

Bookmarks or random pieces of paper?

I’m generally neither. I know. NO, I don’t fold pages (who even does this?!), I just tend to remember the page numbers I’m up to (and if I remember to update my Goodreads, then that can help!) I do own 7202747 bookmarks though, so I should probably start using them!

Stop reading randomly or after a chapter/certain amount of pages?

Generally, I’ll stop reading after a chapter, or a natural stop in proceedings. I’m reading Six of Crows at the minute and there was a little chapter break, so when I was too tired, I stopped there. HOWEVER, I generally go to the end of a chapter.

Do you have a certain place at home for reading?

Bed, haha! There’s nothing better than snuggling up in bed and reading. I’d love to, one day, have a library or like a little book nook under the stairs. Who knows what the future has in store!

Do you eat or drink whilst reading?

Not generally? I often have a cup of tea/coffee (when I’m in Starbucks, generally), but I’m not a “I must have a snack while I read” kind of girl. Snacks are bonus reading fun!

Multitasking: music or TV when reading?

Now, this is where I’m a strange egg. If I’m travelling on a bus/train, then I MUST have music on, it feels wrong not to listen to music/have some kind of noise going on. If I’m at home, I read in silence. I know I’m bizarre.

One book at a time or several?

Normally, only one. I can read books for me and books at school. But for my own reading pleasure, it’s generally only one!

Reading at home or everywhere?

I will read here, there and everywhere. I always have a book in my bag, so you’ll find me reading. If I’ve got more than 5 mins going spare, I’ll be reading!

Reading out loud or silently?

I love reading aloud at school, it fills my bookish heart with joy. If I’m just reading a book for me though, I’ll read it in my head!

Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

I don’t intentionally NOT break spines, nor will I think OH NO if I break a spine, but I like to look after my books.

Do you write in your books?

The general answer to this is no. I wouldn’t write in my books. I’m part of a group of friends who send around the same book and everyone annotates it. The first time I received the book to annotate, it felt SO WRONG. YOU CAN’T WRITE IN BOOKS, THAT’S NOT ALLOWED. There was a bit of liberation to it.

And there you go! Some reading habits from my little life. 

Let me know if you do this tag, I’d love to see your answers!

S x

BOOKBLOG: Simon Philip

I Don’t Know What To Call My Cat: a funny and charming exploration of importance of names

img_2089(I’m chuffed that the book matches my cat bedding… blogger win!)

“Every cat needs a name. One name, one word, just a sound… It should be easy to choose one, right? WRONG!!! I just don’t know what to call my cat! Choosing the right name for a new pet is very important! Find out just what this cat’s name turns out to be in this clever and witty story from an exciting debut author and talented young illustrator.”

I Don’t Know What To Call My Cat explores the story of a young girl who gets a pet cat and worries about all of the things that come with owning a pet, but mostly… what can she call the cat? She goes through a whole host of names, with no luck. Then the vet throws a spanner in the works, highlighting the fact her cat is in fact a tomcat and not a queen. Her cat disappears and she gains a pet gorilla, named Steve, obviously. Now she has a pet who has a name, but she misses her cat. Whatever will happen? Will the cat ever have a name? 

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I absolutely adore the illustrations in this book. They’re so beautiful and a particular favourite of mine is the one below. LOOK HOW UNIMPRESSED THAT CAT IS. It made the kids at school proper chuckle: “Miss, that cat looks SO STUPID” “Miss, why would you dress your cat up as a Queen? Cats aren’t meant to have crowns!”. So yes, the illustrations are definitely a hit!

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This book is full of humour and has gone down an absolute pleasure with the kids at school! We thought about pets and names, and our names after reading this book. The kids loved thinking of their own new pet and what name they’d give it! 

PLUS. Look at those end papers man *heart eyes*

Thank you so much to Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy of this book! It’s a firm favourite in our school!

What would you call your cat if you got one?
What’s your favourite cat name? 
(I’m fond of human names for cats).

Let me know your ideas in the comments or on twitter! Speak soon!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Malcolm Duffy

Me Mam. Me Dad. Me: touching, hard-hitting and brilliant

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“Danny’s mam has a new boyfriend. Initially, all is good – Callum seems nice enough, and Danny can’t deny he’s got a cool set up; big house, fast car, massive TV, and Mam seems to really like him. But cracks begin to show, and they’re not the sort that can be easily repaired. As Danny witnesses Mam suffer and Callum spiral out of control he goes in search of his dad. The Dad he’s never met.”

I was sent Me Mam. Me Dad. Me by the lovely publishers Head of Zeus and guys, IT’S A GEORDIE BOOK. IT’S WRITTEN BY A GEORDIE, WITH A GEORDIE MAIN CHARACTER, SET IN GEORDIE LAND. As an exceptionally proud Geordie, this made my heart so happy. It was so refreshing to read something that was in my dialect. It’s nice, every now and again, for a book to “get” youto see yourself in the book. While I’m not Danny, I’m a Geordie, I say the words he says, I speak the way he does, I know the places he goes… it was SO LOVELY to see MY WORLD in a book. 

Me Mam. Me Dad. Me tells you the story of Danny, a young man who has grown up just him and his mam (I loved seeing the word mam throughout this book, that’s what I call my mam, not mum or mom… mam). As the book goes on his mam falls for Callum, who seems like a nice enough fella to start with, but who’s not a nice man at all. He’s abusive, manipulative and down right horrid. His mam brushes it off, but it bothers Danny a lot. Eventually, Danny decides that finding his dad and getting his dad’s help is the only solution to the Callum problem… which ends pretty disastrous. 

It’s so nice to read a Geordie character who is actually likeable. I’ve only read one other – Juno Dawson’s short story in I’ll Be Home For Christmas! (Here, I’m going to keep saying this, so get used to it). Danny is one of those just good kids. He wants to look after his mam. He just wants her to be happy and safe, and who would blame him? I’d be doing the exact same thing. He’s so normal: he goes to school, has a girlfriend, has mates. He’s so brave. He’s naive and foolish too. His plan isnt foil proof if we’re honest. Going to find the dad you’ve never met? Good shout Danny. But I really liked him. I really felt for him. 

Then you’ve got Callum. That deplorable man. I just have no time for him. He’s condescending, abusive, mean, manipulative. Watching his character change over time was fascinating however. He starts as this generous, happy fella and in the end, he’s not that at all. His separate relationships with Danny and Danny’s mam are interesting – shouldn’t he treat her with the respect someone deserves who you love? Well, you’d think. 

I really liked the family element to this book. You see Danny’s mam’s family, Danny’s dad’s new life and Callum’s family. All 3 very different. All bringing different vibes to the book. 

This books deals with dark topics I can’t deny that. There are scenes which are really hard to read. There’s moments where my heart hurt for Danny. I say this but there’s also a lightness about it. Finding yourself, finding your family, standing up for what’s right, teenage naivety. I would absolutely recommend this book to everyone and anyone. 

I hope this just inspires more Geordie books, because I endorse this massively. 

My goodreads review:
A Geordie voice? A tough topic? A book which will make your gut wrench but also make you laugh at times? 
I’ll keep going on about this BUT ITS SO NICE TO READ SOMETHING IN MY DIALECT. Man, we need more Geordie MCs. This was just so refreshing.

So yes, if you can, please go out and buy this/request it from your library. It’s so brilliant, it’s hard-hitting and it’s authentic. We need more voices like Danny’s (and not just the Geordie voices!). 

Have you read Me Mam. Me Dad. Me?
Would you like to see more books in different dialects?

Let me know in the comments! 

S x

BOOK BLOG: Ross Montgomery

Max and the Millions: adventure filled and laughter a-plenty!

“Max is used to spending time alone – it’s difficult to make friends in a big, chaotic school when you’re deaf. He prefers to give his attention to the little things in life… like making awesome, detailed replica models.
Then Mr Darrow, the school caretaker and fellow modeller, goes missing. Max must follow his parting instruction: ‘Go to my room. You’ll know what to do.’
There on the floor he finds a pile of sand … and in the sand is Mr Darrow’s latest creation… a tiny boy, no bigger than a raisin, Luke, Prince of the Blues. And behind the tiny boy… millions of others – a thriving, bustling, sprawling civilization!”

Max and the Millions starts with one of the most intriguing first chapters I’ve read for a long while… I knew that I was in for something very fun and interesting from that opening chapter. Reading on did not disappoint!

Max tells the story of young Max, a boy who doesn’t have many friends, just trying to keep going at boarding school. This boarding school has possibly the world’s worst headteacher (genuinely despised the man… he bothered me a lot) and Max does not fit in. He wears hearing aids and his headteacher is not very subtle about it. He’s singled out a lot. He doesn’t feel included in school life at all. He has a friendship with the school janitor, they bonded over building miniature replica models. However, when the janitor disappears it is up to Max to try and save the world which has been built before it can be ruined. 

Max, having found a secret message in Mr Darrow’s room, has to leave school for the summer. This makes him worry. Will the janitor’s room and all of the things inside still be safe after the summer holiday? When Max arrives after the summer holidays, he is amazed to find that there are now millions of little people living in Mr Darrow’s room, in this little world which was created there. 

There’s some hilarious moments with the 3 warring camps which are living in the room – the Reds who are led by the Queen; the Blues, led by a pretty lazy son of the deceased king, and the Greens, ran by a pretty mean man. The descriptions of where they live within the room (under the bed, in the bin) made me chuckle. It amazes me that authors can see everyday things and come up with such extraordinary little worlds! 

Max knows he needs to get these 3 camps to agree and he needs to get them to safety. He eventually finds an ally in one of the boys at school. The friendship between Max and Sasha was brilliant to see. Max learns to trust people and, in time, builds a friend. 

I’m a massive Ross Montgomery fanPerijee and Me is one of my favourite books. This one is a great book to read next. The kids at school are loving it! 

My goodreads review: A great book filled with adventure and laughter! Certainly made me laugh out loud more than once. Brave main characters, an excellent portrayal of disability and a mean head teacher. This is accessible and fun, kids will love it!

Have you read any Ross Montgomery books?
Would you like millions of little men and women living in your room?
Did you have any disastrous teachers growing up?

Let me know in the comments, or on twitter! I’d love to talk good/bad teachers!

S x

The Greatest Showman blog tag

Good morning!

Today, I am doing another fun tag. I was tagged by my gorgeous Kelly from Kelly’s Ramblings (you’ll find her post here) to do the Greatest Showman Book Tag. I’ve put on the soundtrack and now the serious thinking starts… (why don’t you stick on the soundtrack too?? It’s PROPERLY GOOD)

The Greatest Show: the greatest book you’ve ever read

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SO MANY BOOKS could win this mantle. But I’ve gone predictable. Matilda. I loved it as an 8 year old, I love it as a 29 year old. It’s so brilliant.

A Million Dreams: A book that left you dreaming after you finished it

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State of Sorrow. For real. Like, Mel writes so wonderfully that I want to go and live in Sorrow’s world for a little bit. I wouldn’t survive BUT I would like to live there, for a little bit. Then come back to lovely Newcastle.

Come Alive – A book where a character finally accept themselves:

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The last page of this book BREAKS MY HEART. But seeing Hedda accept this thing about herself was such an incredible arc.

The Other Side – A character who changes your opinion of them:

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You learn one side of this character through the history, then another side through the present telling of the story and I absolutely loved it. “Penny” is one of those endearing characters who stays with you for a while.

Never Enough – An author/series you could never get enough of:

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I love Sara Barnard books AN AWFUL LOT. She is yet to write something I don’t like. (Shout out here to Melinda Salisbury too… who we ALL KNOW I can’t get enough of her books!)

This Is Me – A book you love despite everyone hating it:

I don’t know that I have one? Shout books you hate at me, and I’ll tell you how I feel about it!

Rewrite The Stars – A bookish OTP that overcame a lot to finally be together:

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Oh man. I ship Amani and Jin together SO MUCH. (I also ship ME and Jin together, fyi). Jin is my TOTAL literary crush. I love him, a lot.

Tightrope – A book/series that gives you trust issues:

One of Us is Lying

I can’t tell you why. Just read it. Then we’ll talk.

From Now On – A book you’ve ignored for SO long, you need to read it ASAP:

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I know I KNOW. I will read them both. I do own them both. I promise.

(Sorry not sorry for the fact my bookish tags always include the same books and authors… I have my faves and that’s that!)

There you go! I loved doing this! I’m currently trying to devise a Friends themed book tag! If you’d like to do The Greatest Showman book tag, go for it!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Jess Butterworth

When The Mountains Roared: a book with threads of grief, friendship and the importance of looking after our world.

img_1474-1(this was the proof cover and I just ADORE it!)

“When Ruby’s dad uproots her from Australia to set up a hotel in the mountains of India, Ruby is devastated. Not only are they living in a run-down building in the middle of the wilderness surrounded by scorpions, bears and leopards, but Ruby is sure that India will never truly feel like home – not without her mum there.Ever since her mum died, Ruby has been afraid. Of cars. Of the dark. Of going to sleep and never waking up. But then the last remaining leopards of the mountain are threatened and everything changes. Ruby vows to do all she can to protect them – if she can only overcome her fears…”

(finished cover, I absolutely love it!)

When The Mountains Roared explores the upheaval of life from comfortable and familiar, on a ship, over to a brand new and scary life on a brand new continent. Telling the story of Ruby, a brave young girl who is trying to cope at a tough time. She’s lost her mam, she’s lost her friends, she’s lost all familarity in life. Her dad is preoccupied. She’s in this brand new world, surrounded by new people, new problems and she can’t quite understand what’s going on.

Ruby is what’s so brilliant about MG characters being written lately: she’s not afraid to stand up for what she knows is right, she’s brave, gutsy and she’s curious. She asks questions. She tries, fails, but keeps trying. It’s so brilliant for kids to read characters like Ruby. Characters who are real. 

Moving to another country and dealing with a whole new set of rules and customs is a tough thing to go through. Ruby, who has lost her mum, has moved with her dad and her grandmother. They move to a hotel which is in need of more than a lick of paint. Her dad paints this as an adventure. An adventure it is, but it has seriously dark undertones. 

img_1476-1(I love love love these chapter pages! So much!)

This book deals so brilliantly with an issue lots of kids may never come across: poaching. Ruby is now in this incredible landscape surrounded by animals. She meets snakes, big cats and all sorts of exotic wildlife. The animals become her familiarity throughout the book. When she finds out that there’s poachers, her worst nightmare comes to light – her dad is somehow involved. I loved this exploration of quite a serious subject, at a level that doesn’t undermine the knowledge children have, isn’t preachy – it’s just right. The relationship Ruby has with the animals is honest and I properly felt for Ruby. 

There’s also a brilliant thread of dealing with Ruby’s grief too. It’s dealt with so delicately. Ruby isn’t ready to let go of her mam, her home, her memories. She’s afraid to make new memories in case she forgets her mam. There’s a level of worry and panic about Ruby that comes because of the loss of her mam. However, she’s brave and determined. It’s obvious that her family are a massive part of her story, so she keeps going.

I really loved this book. It was one that I sat down and just devoured. The descriptions are vivid and beautiful. The kids at school are loving it too. Pair this with Jess Butterworth’s first book Running on the Rooftops of the World, and you’ve got a winning combination. I’m excited to see what’s next, Jess is proving to be an author who writes complete winners!

Have you read When The Mountains Roared?
How do you think you’d cope being upheaved to India?
Can you recommend any books similar to this?

Thank you so much to publishers for sending me a proof copy! Let me know in the comments, or on twitter. I’d love to talk!

S x