BOOKBLOG: Lauren James

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe: a gripping, unique heart-racer

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“Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away? 
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 amongst the stars. 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 with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love. 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 . . .”

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe (I’m going to call it Loneliest Girl in this blog, because well it’s a LONG title!) tells the story of Romy, who is the captain of a ship on its way to a new planet, with hopes to make it hospitable. She’s all alone on this rocket, with only audio/email messages coming from her therapist Molly. Something changes and suddenly there’s a mysterious stranger on the scene. This stranger is J, the captain of another ship, and Romy quickly finds herself falling for this mysterious stranger. When things start becoming a bit suspect, Romy discovers that J isn’t quite who he says he is…

I had seen SO MUCH about this book on twitter! Everyone was talking about it. I was SO ENVIOUS of all of the people who had advance copies. I needed to get my hands on it. I was elated when I heard they would be selling them at YALC. When it came to YALC, Kelly and I rushed to buy a copy (because we were afraid they’d run out of copies!) just to be sure we would get one. It has sat on my shelf since YALC but I was determined to read it before we did a SundayYA chat about it. AND READ IT BEFORE SUNDAYYA I DID. It took me all of about 4 hours to read. It is THAT GOOD. It’s so readable. Gripping. The kind of book that takes you by surprise (it certainly took me by surprise!) 

This book is very character centric and luckily for me, I loved the characters. Romy (the main character) and her story were very well written. The flashbacks of her memories growing up, her memories of the rocket were gorgeous to see. Her parents are very important to herboth in very different ways – I loved her relationship with her dad. Her relationship with her mam kept me very curious. The other character in the space world in Loneliest Girl is J: mysterious, handsome, seemingly perfect. Romy definitely falls for him fast. Her trust of him pulled the wool over my eyes. I didn’t like him from the start… there was something about him I didn’t trust. He was too convenient. He was the perfect, most sinister, creepy baddie though. He adds a brilliantly sinister dynamic to this book. Definitely kept me on my toes. 

I would recommend this book to EVERYONE. It is one of those that would appeal to SO MANY PEOPLE. It’s so clever and devious and delicious. I’m curious about the rest of the author’s work now… if they’re all this good I need to get them NOW (well, when September is over cause y’know book buying ban and all that!)

Have you read Loneliest Girl?
What did you make of J?
Do you think you’d cope with Romy’s life?

Let me know in the comments or on twitter! I’d love to talk about this book! 

S xx

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BOOKBLOG: Karen M. McManus

One of Us Is Lying: kept me guessing the entire time. I LOVED IT.

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“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.”

So I didn’t know that much about One of Us Is Lying before YALC – I had seen it being talked about and I had seen ALL OF THE PRAISE for it, but it didn’t quite ding my radar. However, having hear Karen talk about this book at YALC, I wanted to get my hands on it. I wanted to make my own judgement on it. 

It’s not a book that I would usually pick up BUT I am glad I did. My friend Kelly read this and kept telling me to read it, so I picked it up to read at the end of the #SundayYAthon (I had finished my 3 books, so was just looking for another book to tide me over). I read this book in a day. One day. All in all it probably only took me a few hoursit is THAT good.  

The story gripped me straight away – these 5 kids go into detention but one of them ends up dying and the rest of them are the suspects… what ensues is a rollercoaster of emotions, twists and turns galore and one almighty shock at the end. I personally didn’t see the suspect being the person it ends up being… I had my suspicions ALL ALONG. (Kelly had an immense amount of fun being the recipient of all of my texts about who I was suspicious of!)

I loved learning their secrets. I did not expect ANY OF THEM. 

The exploration of family relationships in this book is special too. There’s pushy dads, absent mothers, alcoholic fathers, run of the mill lovely parents, poorly sisters – all encapsulated in these 5 very complex kids. There’s scenes between father and son, with revelations really turning a father/son relationship on its head, which I loved seeing explored too. 

I loved Nate. Read this and try to tell me you don’t love Nate. Because we can’t be friends if you don’t (only kidding, but I do love him). He’s tough as a nut but then a total softie. Bronwyn was an interesting character – I definitely grew to like her. 

This book is brilliantly paced. I didn’t want to stop reading. I wanted to know what was happening at EVERY POINT. My suspicions of the killer changed every page. I just adored that. It’s such an easy book to read and read because the story is gripping

My goodreads review:

“What an absolute winner. 
Amazing plot. Characters. Stories. Surprises. Twists. I did not see them coming. I was led down many a wrong path. I had my suspicions and they were all wrong. 
All of this and a romance that I just adored? YES THANKS.”

I’d love to read more books like this! 

Have you read this?
Did you have a favourite kid?
CAN WE TALK ABOUT WHO YOU THOUGHT IT WAS?

Do you have any recommendations of books like this? Cause this was BRILLIANT and I want more like it in my life! Let me know! 

S x

S4S – 2017 books

Morning! 

It’s Sunday again! How is everyone? Are we all good? 

This week’s #SixforSunday theme is:

Books I’m excited to be released in 2017

So which books are you most excited to come out in the rest of this year?

  1. Holly Bourne – It Only Happens In The Movies
  2. The Creakers – Tom Fletcher
  3. Grave Matter – Juno Dawson
  4. The Polar Bear Explorer’s Club – Alex Bell
  5. The Language of Thorns – Leigh Bardugo
  6. Turtles All The Way Down – John Green 

I am excited for all of these for different reasons! But I can’t wait! 

Which releases are you excited for?
Have you read any of my list? What did you think?

Share your #SixforSunday on twitter or share your blog post in the comments! I love seeing you guys joining in! 

Watch out for an exciting #SixforSunday update coming at the end of September!

S x

BOOKBLOG: Leigh Bardugo

Wonder Woman: Warbringer –  adventure filled, witty and fast paced

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“She will become a legend but first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning… Diana is desperate to prove herself to her warrior sisters. But when the opportunity comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law to save a mere mortal, Alia Keralis. With this single heroic act, Diana may have just doomed the world. Alia is a Warbringer – a descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery. Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies, mortal and divine, determined to destroy or possess the Warbringer. To save the world, they must stand side by side against the tide of war.”

Wonder Woman: Warbringer tells the story of Diana (Wonder Woman) and her struggle with her life as an Amazon, doing the right thing and jeapordising her life as she knows it. It is one not to be missed! The girls of SundayYA were raving about it in the chat and I knew from the chat that I needed to get onto it and I do not regret it!

One of the things that stood out to me about this book was that I really loved the characters. Diana is brilliant: she’s witty, funny (generally unintentionally, brave, honest and badass. Like, she saves someone’s life. I know, I know, she’s Wonder Woman, it’s what she does. But like, how many other characters do you know that save lives in such an epic way? I liked her instantly. She goes from the underdog to hero, all in secret. She’s not the only interesting character in this book though, don’t be fooled. There’s the warbringer herself, Alia. She’s a bit more tough, a bit more intense, taken by surprise by this new life that she is now being made to live. Things are coming to light in her life that make so much more sense to her now. She is the warbringer (I think she copes with this information much better than I would!) and wants to do the right thing. That’s always noble. She was another hit with me straight away.

OH JASON! JASON. JASON. JASON.

Those of you who have read Warbringer will know what my despair is all about. Oh Jason. I won’t spoil anything. But Jason. I have complex feelings about him. There was an audible gasp when it comes to Jason and his behaviour. (Go on, read it, you know you want to! You want to know why Jason made me gasp. Then we can talk about it!).

The other thing that I loved about this book was that I learned a lot without being overloaded with information. There were little threads of information throughout the whole book – THIS is a much better way to educate readers on superhero information than a total information dump, so I am grateful for that! 

I completely and utterly loved this book. It took me a while to get through (blame a stupid reading slump) but I would recommend it to everyone. it is just wonderful. Leigh Bardugo is magnificent and this has definitely spurred me on to read the rest of her books! 

My goodreads review:

I do not have enough words to praise this book. I loved it so much. Diana is incredible. The way the story is woven is just exceptional. I was really rooting for Jason, I trusted him and then BOOM. I audibly gasped. What a VILLAIN. I love how Diana stood for what she knew she believed in. She believed in Alia. I cried at the end. Just magnificent.

Have you read Warbringer?
Which superhero would you like to be?
Would you like to rewrite anyone’s story? If so, whose?

Thank you so much to my gorgeous book fairy Sarah at Penguin for sending this over to me! 

S x

The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

Thank you so much to Kelly from Kelly’s Ramblings for tagging me in the ‘Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag’ (I know, it’s not the middle of the year, but shush!) I’ll share MG and YA books, if I can think of one each!

1. The Best Book of the Year So Far…

YA: The Scarecrow Queen – this rounds off the trilogy so perfectly. I was absolutely blown away by Twylla’s journey in this book and I just can’t praise this book enough!
MG: A Place Called Perfect – this book was the perfect amount of spooky, adventures and sheer brilliance. It captured my imagination brilliantly.

2. The Best Sequel of the Year So Far …

YA: Traitor to the Throne – I was over the moon when I got my hands on this and I consumed it exceptionally quickly. I love this world that Alwyn has created. I can’t wait for Hero at the Fall (2018 is so far away!)
MG: Simply the Quest – I loved Who Let The Gods Out? so so much and when I finally got my hands on STQ I was just as in love with it! I love this series so much… again 2018 is too far away!

3. A New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To …

YA: The Hate U Give – Everyone keeps talking about this and I just haven’t found the time to read it yet! I have it on my shelf though…
MG: The Nowhere Emporium – luckily we have this in the library at school so I will be borrowing it and will read it!

4. Most Anticipated Release for Autumn/Winter …

YA: It Only Happens In The Movies – I am a massive Holly Bourne fan and from the sampler I think this is only going to be incredible! Bring on October!
MG: The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club – I’ve seen this on a few twitter friends’ pages and they’re all very excited about it… I am v jealous they have it already!

5. Your Biggest Disappointment of the Year So Far …

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YA: Caraval – I had such high hopes for this book and I just didn’t love it. It was fine, it was alrite. Go read it for yourself to see what it’s all about. I know A LOT of people who loved it though.

6. Your Biggest Surprise of the Year So Far …

YA: After The Fire – absolutely incredible. I loved this so much. I strongly suggest you all go and read this NOW. It is SO good.
MG: The Last Wild – I had seen this everywhere and never picked it up and when I did I was blown away by how much I loved it.

7. Your New Favourite Author …

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Peadar O’Guilin is EXCEPTIONAL. I have read The Call and I was lucky enough to get a proof of the second book (The Invasion) and I just adore his writing. If you’re looking for an exceptional dystopian… look no further!

8. Your Newest Favourite Character …

YA: Ink – Leora is one of those brilliant characters who you come across every now and again who makes an impact. I can’t wait to find out where her story takes us next!
MG: The Explorer – there are so many things I loved about this book but the man they meet in the jungle is again one of those exceptional characters from stories that stay with you for a long time. I would love to know more about him. 

9. Your Newest Fictional Crush …

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Henry. Oh Henry. 

(Shout out to Jin from Rebel of the Sands/Traitor to the Throne… but he’s not a new crush!)

10. A Book That Has Made You Cry … (lol, all of them!)

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Countless is one of the most heartbreaking books I’ve read. It is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. I cried SO SO SO hard at the end. I can’t think about this book without it making me sad. Please go read it, but get yourself some tissues.

11. A Book That Has Made You Happy …

YA: Unconventional – one of those gorgeous books that comes along and just makes me smile. I loved it a lot. It was such a feel good book! 
MG: Bookshop Girl – this is one of my favourites this year! I can’t wait to use it with my kids! Just such a brilliant little happy book.

12. The Most Beautiful Book of the Year So Far …

YA: A Quiet Kind of Thunder – I have so so so many brilliant words to say about this book. You need to get on it if you haven’t yet. Sara is such a brilliant author and Steffi’s story is just incredible. This book inspired me a lot.
MG: The Island at the End of Everything – Kiran Milwood Hargrave writes these exceptional books (her other one The Girl of Ink and Stars deserves ALL OF THE PRAISE it gets) and this one just knocked my socks off. I absolutely adored it. Such an incredible story.

13. Some Books You Need to Read Before 2017 Ends …

So there we have it! My (no so) mid year book freak out tag!

That was quite the blog post!

Let me know your choices and link me to your blog posts, I’d love to see your answers!

S xx

Summer holiday wrap up!

So… it’s back to school day today! I thought I would keep the cheer up by sharing the amazing books that I read over the Summer holidays! I got to read some absolute corkers – both YA and MG books! 

YA 2017 summer

Highlights:

  • One of Us Is Lying – I absolutely loved this! It was fast paced and brilliant. It kept me on my toes the ENTIRE time. 
  • The Invasion – hotly anticipated sequel to The Call. I absolutely loved it.
  • Wonder Woman – I haven’t read anything by Leigh Bardugo but I really want to now! I really loved this!
  • The Eyes of the Dragon – I never expected I would so highly recommend a Stephen King book but I absolutely LOVED this one. 

MG Summer

Highlights: (I would like to state that I loved EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THESE)

  • The Creakers – I was lucky enough to get a proof and it’s just brilliant. I can’t wait for everyone else to read this! Especially if you loved The Christmasaurus.
  • Letters from the Lighthouse – absolutely gorgeous and absolutely perfect KS2 book. I really loved the story and the female characters! 
  • The Last Wild – this made me cry SO HARD on the train someone asked me if I was OK, ha. But seriously brilliant.
  • A Place Called Perfect – I can NOT stop banging on about how brilliant this book is. It is creepy and weird and JUST AMAZING. Go read it.

I am IMPRESSED. I didn’t think I had read 16 books! This recap doesn’t even include all of the picture books I read either! How exciting! So there were many books read over the summer, JUST AS IT SHOULD BE! 

What did you read over the summer?
Did you have a favourite read?
Do you have a book you always fall back on in summer?

Let me know in the comments or tweet me! I would love to see your summer reads!

 S x

#SundayYAthon TBR

Bank Holiday Monday is a perfect time to start a readathon! Luckily the wonderful Rachel (the #SundayYA boss lady) has started a brilliant Sunday YA readathon and I am excited about it! 

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She created this incredible bingo board style mission! I’m going across the middle! There’s so many ways I could’ve gone! I have about 600 books on my TBR (ha, this is a slight exaggeration… but I do have SO MANY BOOKS to read. I sorted them out in some fashion today and I had to NOT count them because I would’ve been a bit overwhelmed! Might do a book buying ban in September… get some of my books read! Anyway…)

WHICH BOOKS ARE YOU CHOOSING STEPH? WHICH BOOKS? WHICH BOOKS? TELL US! SHOW US! WE WANT TO SEE. 

I know. I can hear you chanting it now. 

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For SundayYA author I chose Indigo Donut by Patrice Lawrence.

My Free Choice book is Letters from the Lighthouse by Emma Carroll (I had to get some MG reading in there!)

The UKYA author I chose was Mind The Gap by Phil Earle (the lovely people at Barrington Stoke sent me this last week and I’ve carried it round ever since, I love the sound of it. I heard him at YALC talk about it and it’s going to break my heart).

I also have Wonder Woman to finish too… let’s hope I can manage it all!

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Are you joining in #SundayYAthon this summer?
What’s on your TBR list?
Do you like doing readathons?

It’s not too late to join in! Just follow the hashtag and show us your TBR. See you there!

S x

BLOG TOUR: Claire McFall

Today, I am very lucky that I get to host a brilliant author and she is going to share some creative writing tips with us! Thank you so much to Claire McFall and Kelpies Edge for inviting me on this blog tour! I can’t wait to see the rest of the posts… some of them sound incredible! Check out the banner below to see who else is involved!

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Top tips for Creative Writing

I’m a teacher. Actually, I’m an English teacher, so you’d think this would be easy. Wrong! You see, as far as I’m concerned there’s no right way to go about writing – so what works for me might not work for you and vice versa. Caveat firmly in place, these are my tips for creative writing. Feel free to take them with a pinch of salt and do your own thing.

That way, masterpieces are made.

The dreaded blank page

This is your worst enemy. You can sit and stare at it for hours. It’s intimidating – how I imagine an artist might feel beginning a new canvas. What if the first brush stroke is all wrong? You’ve ruined it!

Well, no. 99.9% of you will be typing, and there’s this awesome button called backspace. If you don’t like it, delete it! But I wouldn’t. Write the first sentence, then the second and the third and the fourth, until you’re no longer dragging them out, but they’re coming more freely. Flowing. When you’ve finished – the paragraph, the page, the chapter, the story – go back and read over your opening lines. Firstly, I bet they won’t be as bad as you thought, but also, if you really do hate it, it’ll be so much easier to tweak.

A story is not just a story

Novels vary in length, but Ferryman and Trespassers are both about 75,000 words. If you broke both novels down, I’d be willing to bet that telling the actual story only takes up about 30% of that. The rest? World building and people building.

It’s not enough to have a great storyline and tell the reader what happens. You need to show them by creating a world they can step into. To do that, you’ve got to make sure you concentrate enough on describing settings. And when you do, make sure you’re not just thinking about what places look like! Sight is just one of our five senses. If you simply describe what I’d see, I’ll feel like I’m looking at a picture. I want to be in the picture.  What will I hear? Smell? What will things feel like if I could reach out and touch them?

If you want to hook the reader in, you also need to spend time giving depth to characters – and not just your main character either! The best stories are where you can make the reader hold their breath and wonder what’s going to happen next – and they do that because they care about the person that it’s happening to!

Read stuff!

Every good writer is also a reader. Reading develops your vocabulary, shows you different ways to play with language and gives you ideas about how a narrative can be organised.

What’s important, though, is that you try to read a wide range of things. Don’t decide I want to write Science Fiction so I’m only going to read Science Fiction novels. Do that, and you’ll end up writing the same thing as everybody else! If you want your writing to be new and different and fresh – the thing that everybody wants to read! – you need to expand your horizons. Try a Western. Or a historical novel. Read some non-fiction! At worst, you’ll learn something. And the best? You’ll discover a whole new world of awesome stories to devour!

Dust off your thick skin

Reading books will help you get better. It will. But it’s not as helpful as getting feedback from readers about your own writing. Warning: this is scary! What if they don’t like it? What if they laugh? What if they say it’s rubbish?

Well, they might. I’ve had reviewers online saying they hated my stories. Not many, thankfully… When it happens, oh it stings. I can eat a whole chocolate cake before I feel better sometimes (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it). But if no one tells you what’s wrong with your writing, how can you get better? As writers, we often can’t see the wood for the trees – we wrote it. To us, it’s perfect! We need outside perspectives to help us mould first drafts into finished stories.

Find someone you trust. Someone who will be honest. Someone who’ll be nice – but who won’t just tell you they love it because they’re your friend or your mum. My mum, unfortunately, is brutally upfront about what she thinks…

And get a slice of cake in, just in case. If they love it – well, it can be a victory slice.

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Thank you so much to Claire for giving us some brilliant tips!

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Claire McFall is a writer and a teacher who lives and works in the Scottish Borders. She is the author of paranormal thriller Black Cairn Point, winner of the inaugural Scottish Teenage Book Prize 2017. Her debut novel Ferryman won a Scottish Children’s Book Award, and was nominated for the Carnegie Medal and shortlisted for the Branford Boase award. Her other books include dystopian thriller BombmakerTrespassers, the much-anticipated sequel to Ferryman, will be published on 14th September 2017. 

CMF

S4S – Magical books

Bon matin! 

How is everyone? It’s Sunday again! Time for another round of #SixforSunday

This week’s theme is:

Magical books

So here are 6 of my favourite “magical” books!

  1. The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
  2. The Paper Magician trilogy – Charlie N. Holmberg (but seriously, you need to get on this if you’re a lover of magical books. They are just wonderful)
  3. The Magicians – Lev Grossman
  4. The Invisible Library – Genevieve Cogman
  5. Rebel of the Sands/Traitor to the Throne – Alwyn Hamilton
  6. The Girl With All The Gifts – M.R.Carey

There you go! 6 of my favourite magical books! 

What are your favourite magical books?
Is magic a hook for you?
Can you recommend any magical books to me?
(Magic is my fave!)

Let me know, use the hashtag #SixforSunday on twitter! I would love to see them!

S x

 

YA giveaway!

HELLO THERE.

How are you this fine Friday morning? In the mood for another bloggerversary giveaway? 

Well you’ve come to the right place! 

Last week (as you may have seen!) I was giving away 2 of my favourite MG books of the last year and a bit, and this week I am giving away 4 of my favourite YA books of the past year. You will have seen me talk about ALL OF THEM on my social media and now it’s your turn to get to read them because well EVERYONE SHOULD READ THEM OK?

What you win:

Copies of the 4 books below, plus some other goodies.

These 4 have been 4 of my favourite reads so far of 2017 and I can’t wait to share them with one of you! See my reviews below if you want to know more!

BOOKBLOG: Karen Gregory
BOOKBLOG: Emily Barr
BOOKBLOG: Maggie Harcourt
BOOKBLOG: Sara Barnard

How to enter:

  • Follow me (@eenalol) on twitter
  • RT the tweet about this giveaway
  • For an extra entry, comment on this blog post and tell me your favourite YA friendship!
  • Giveaway closes midnight Thursday 24th August, winner will be contacted Fridat 25th August!

Happy entering! Any questions, let me know! Just get RTing!

S x