THE YEAR AFTER YOU – Nina de Pass

the year after you5/5

PUBLICATION DATE: 14/2/2019
PUBLISHER: Ink Road Books
GENRE: Young Adult

“If guilt could kill, I’d already be dead, like I’m supposed to be …” New Year’s Eve, San Francisco. The most promising party of the year ends in tragedy. Cara survives. Her best friend Georgina doesn’t. Nine months later, Cara is consumed by guilt and grief. Her mum decides a Swiss boarding school will be the fresh start Cara needs. But Cara knows that swapping sunshine for snow won’t make a blind bit of difference. Georgina is gone, and nothing will bring her back. Up in the Alps, Cara’s old life feels a million miles away. At Hope Hall, nobody knows her past and she intends to keep it that way. But classmates Ren and Hector have other ideas. Cara keeps her distance, but she’s drawn to the offbeat, straight-talking Hector, who understands her grief better than anyone. Her new friends are breaking down the walls she has so carefully built up. And, despite it all, Cara wants them to. The closer Cara grows to Hector, the more Georgina slips away. Embracing life at Hope Hall means letting go of the past; of her memories of that fatal New Year’s Eve. But Cara is quite sure she doesn’t deserve a second chance.

My two favourite types of book are boarding school stories and young adult contemporary (especially mental health) and I’d come to accept that the likelihood of reading a book that ticks both of these boxes is very slim. Then along comes an offer to be part of a blog tour for a book from Ink Road…THAT TICKS BOTH OF THESE BOXES. Of course I had to say yes yes yes!

The Year After You is a book that as soon as I picked it up I couldn’t put it down; every time life got in the way I’d be anxiously waiting to get back to reading! In it, the characters are all so varied – they come from a variety of backgrounds and all have stories to share. I like how diverse the story was without it being thrown in your face; it was like life, just part and parcel of having a group of teens at school together.

Nina’s writing style was brilliant and she crafted a story that, although it covers some pretty difficult topics, ultimately was enjoyable and easy to engage with. Cara was a brilliant main character who was flawed but also vulnerable. It was refreshing to see a character who you’d think had it all but actually shows that situations can have an impact on anyone. I think the way that grief and guilt are tackled throughout the book makes this essential reading for young people too.

I’d highly recommend The Year After You, especially for fans of authors such as Sara Barnard, Gayle Forman and Phyllida Shrimpton, as well as people who may have grown up loving school stories and are looking for something a little more modern to love.


Thank you to Sarah at Ink Road for sending me a copy of The Year After You and for involving me in the blog tour!
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SHH! WE HAVE A PLAN – Chris Haughton

shh we have a plan5/5

RELEASED: 06/03/2014
PUBLISHER: Walker
GENRE: Picture Book

The winner of the 2014 Association of Illustrators’ Award for Children’s Books, Shh! is the covetable new picture book from Chris Haughton, one of the most exciting new voices in children’s literature. From Chris Haughton, the multi award-winning author-illustrator of A Bit Lost and Oh No, George!, comes a picture book about a beautiful bird, four friends and plans gone wrong… The friends are out for a walk. Suddenly, they spot it – a beautiful bird perched high in a tree! They simply must have it and – shh!- they have a plan. So they tip-toe very slowly, nets poised – “Ready one … ready two … ready three … GO!” But, at the turn of the page, we find a ridiculous bunch of very tangled characters and a blissfully oblivious bird, flying away. One hilarious foiled plan after another and it’s clear that this goofy gang cannot catch that elusive birdie! But the littlest of this group, a quiet spectator up until now, knows that a bit of kindness can go a long way… Will his friends follow his gentle lead or will they get themselves into even more trouble?

Such a simple concept, and yet it is absolutely perfect! This book makes me so happy and is so much fun to read aloud; it’s very repetitive, full of expression and is beautifully illustrated (like all of Chris Haughton’s books let’s be honest!).

Shh! We Have A Plan is one of my number one picks for storytime and is one of those stories that you can really make your own with actions and the different volumes, and is also a great choice for beginner readers due to the repetition. Whilst recently re-reading this, my little sister (although capable of reading much trickier books) had so much fun reading it confidently out loud and did all the actions and different SHH!s. It was brilliant!

I can’t recommend this book highly enough if you are looking for a quiet bedtime or fun read that will keep little ones engaged!


Thank you to Jo at Walker for sending me a copy of this book!

ENCHANTÉE – Gita Trelease

47584789_2034450909979277_7616072665545668784_n5/5

RELEASED: 21/02/2019
PUBLISHER: Pan Macmillan
GENRE: Young Adult, Historical Fantasy

A compellingly beautiful tale of magic, intrigue and deception, set against the backdrop of eighteenth-century Paris on the cusp of revolution.

Paris in 1789 is a labyrinth of twisted streets, filled with beggars, thieves, revolutionaries – and magicians . . . 
When seventeen-year-old Camille is left orphaned, she has to provide for her frail sister and her volatile brother. In desperation, she survives by using the petty magic she learnt from her mother. But when her brother disappears Camille decides to pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

Using dark magic Camille transforms herself into the `Baroness de la Fontaine` and presents herself at the court of Versaille, where she soon finds herself swept up in a dizzying life of riches, finery and suitors. But Camille’s resentment of the rich is at odds with the allure of their glamour and excess, and she soon discovers that she’s not the only one leading a double life . . .

Enchantée, a word which translates to enchanted…and that is quite literally how this book made me feel throughout my whole reading experience.

As a student of French, I am a sucker for a book set in Paris so of course as soon as I heard about this book I knew that it was one that I’d have to get my hands on. I squealed when I was lucky enough to receive a proof copy from MyKindaBook and was desperate to dive into the world of revolutionary Paris. I had very high expectations going into this book, and thankfully it was everything and more!

Camille is a very likable main character. She’s not perfect and has basic human flaws, but she is definitely a good person and cares deeply for her sister. The family unit in Enchantée is an interesting one, and it’s one that changes significantly as the story progresses. We see how situations can have a massive impact upon a person, and yet how, even in the hardest of times, love and caring for others can make a huge difference.

Talking of love…we meet a host of different characters both in Paris and at Versailles, but the one who absolutely stood out to me was Lazare. I adore him. He’s got his own brilliant character arc throughout the story, and, again, he’s not perfect! But that’s part of why I finished this book loving him so much.

La magie in Enchantée is also a fascinating take on the whole magician thing; the knowledge of how it works builds up gradually throughout the book and slowly intertwines itself in the story. It’s a very clever world that Gita has crafted; you truly believe that you’re in Paris at a time of change, and that magic truly can exist!

If you haven’t gathered by now, I can’t recommend this book highly enough! It’s perfect for fans of historical fiction, fantasy, magical realism, and the comparisons to The Night Circus and Caraval are very much deserved. If you like any of those, I implore you to pick up Enchantée and discover a new favourite book!


Thank you to Amber at MyKindaBook for sending me a copy of Enchantée!

HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE – Jennifer Niven

holding up the universe4.5/5

RELEASED: 6/10/2016
PUBLISHER: Penguin
GENRE: Young Adult Contemporary

“We’re all weird and damaged in our own way. You’re not the only one.”

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed ‘America’s Fattest Teen’. But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to see who she really is. Since her mum’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the art of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his own brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone. Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game which lands them in group counseling, Libby and Jack are both angry, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world – theirs and yours. 

Jennifer Niven delivers another poignant, exhilarating love story about finding that person who sees you for who you are – and seeing them right back. 

I LOVE All The Bright Places so naturally was desperate to read Holding Up The Universe and it didn’t disappoint! That said, it is totally different to ATBP since it’s a slightly more cheerful topic, making it better suited to younger teens, and the ending wasn’t sad – since its publication I’ve reassured lots of fans of Jennifer Niven who were hesitating over not wanting a read that needs a box of tissues to hand and so I would like to reassure people that THIS BOOK ISN’T THE SAME!

Something that I love about Jennifer’s writing is that on the surface we have a typical contemporary teen romance, but underneath there are layers to the story and characters which confront common and often serious conditions (although Jack’s debilitating condition of prosopagnosia is one that isn’t commonly known about) in a way that makes the writing enjoyable to read. It feels like a key element of the characters is showing that even the people who appear to have it all can have problems behind closed doors and that it is okay to be different. The issue of weight and body image also continues to be a massive problem in the modern world and this book joins the ranks as one of the brilliant books for teens dealing with this.


Thank you to the Penguin Huddle for sending me a copy of this title!

snailycanflyy Book Award 2018

Last year, I hosted my first snailycanflyy Book Award, where I narrowed down my top books of the year, and after a fab reading year the award is back for 2018! Last year saw some tough competition from some amazing books featuring amazing authors and illustrators with the overall winner being the very worthy The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson which still stands out as one of the best books I’ve ever read!

The award is split into three categories – Best Picture Book, Best Middle Grade and Best Young Adult, with a winner in each category and an overall winner. The criteria is simply that it has to be a five-star rated book published in 2018 and one that I want to talk about, one that has stuck with me since reading and one that I would recommend wholeheartedly. So, without futher ado, here are the category nominees:

img_4075

BEST PICTURE BOOK:

Oscar the Hungry Unicorn – Lou Carter, Nikki Dyson
The Bear, The Piano, The Dog and the FiddleDavid Litchfield
Ruby’s Worry – Tom Percival
Space Tortoise – Ross Montgomery, David Litchfield
The Story Orchestra: The Sleeping Beauty Jessica Courtney-Tickle

BEST MIDDLE GRADE BOOK:

The Truth PixieMatt Haig
Death in the Spotlight – Robin Stevens
The Eye of the North – Sinead O’Hart
The Light Jar Lisa Thompson
The Secret Seven: Mystery of the Skull – Pamela Butchart

BEST YOUNG ADULT BOOK:

I Was Born For ThisAlice Oseman
To Kill a KingdomAlexandra Christo
LegendaryStephanie Garber
Sunflowers in FebruaryPhyllida Shrimpton
The Exact Opposite of OkayLaura Steven

AND THE WINNERS ARE…drumroll please!

oscar the hungry unicornBEST PICTURE BOOK
Oscar the Hungry Unicorn

death in the spotlightBEST MIDDLE GRADE BOOK
Death in the Spotlight

to kill a kingdomBEST YOUNG ADULT BOOK
To Kill a Kingdom

OVERALL WINNER
The Truth Pixie

A massive congratulations and thank you to all of the authors who’s books made it to the shortlist! All of these books are so incredible and I’ve loved reading them in 2018!

kayleigh

 

THE NIGHT BEFORE THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS – Kes Gray

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As soon as I saw Kes Gray’s name on the cover of this Christmas book, I just bought it, and I’m so glad that I did! Along with his typical fun rhymes in a story that’s both fun to read and listen to, Claire Powell’s illustrations are beautiful and really bring the story of Christmas Eve Eve to life!

The Night Before The Night Before Christmas is an enchanting book that’ll bring fun and laughter to everyone’s Christmas preparations, telling the story of how Father Christmas gets ready for a busy night! I can’t recommend this book highly enough and it has immediately become one of my festive favourites!

My Year of Audible: 2018

It’s scary to think that I’m already over halfway through Blogmas 2018! Today I am going to share with you some of the audiobooks that I have loved this year; although I’ve not listened as frequently lately, I have got some brilliant audiobooks this year!

The Goldfish Boy – Lisa Thompson narrated by Leon Williams

The Truth Pixie – Matt Haig narrated by Matt Haig

Notes on a Nervous Planet – Matt Haig narrated by Matt Haig

The Kissing Booth – Beth Reekles narrated by Cynthia Holloway

I Was Born For This – Alice Oseman narrated by Aysha Kala, Huw Parmenter

The Exact Opposite of Okay – Laura Steven narrated by Laura Aikman

Legendary – Stephanie Garner narrated by Rebecca Soler

To Kill a Kingdom – Alexandra Christo narrated by Jacob York, Stephanie Willis

Daughter of the Pirate King – Tricia Levenseller narrated by Marisa Calin

Although I haven’t got around to finishing listening to all of these, I have loved the freedom of having an Audible membership and having some wonderful titles added to my audiobook library!

Have you listened to any of these, or are there any you’d recommend?

THE TRUTH PIXIE – Matt Haig

the truth pixie

5/5

RELEASED: 18/10/2018
PUBLISHER: Canongate
GENRE: Young Reader, Mental Health

From number one bestselling author Matt Haig comes a hilarious and heartwarming story, brilliantly illustrated throughout by Chris Mould.

Wherever she is, whatever the day, She only has one kind of thing to say. Just as cats go miaow and cows go moo, The Truth Pixie can only say things that are true.

I’ve wanted to write this review ever since I read The Truth Pixie, but I just haven’t quite known where to start!

The Truth Pixie is such a magical little book that I strongly believe everyone should read (I’ve bought eight copies as gifts this Christmas!) and it’s one that can be enjoyed again and again.

To begin with, it’s not a daunting read at all. It’s tiny. But, for such a small book, it carries so many important messages and provides so much comfort for people going through all sorts of difficulties from anxiety to grief. The description of it being “Reasons To Stay Alive for seven year olds” is not wrong! Then you have the fact that it’s beautifully illustrated by Chris Mould. Whilst his illustrations are not my usual type that I would go for, they fit the story and book perfectly.

I can’t recommend The Truth Pixie enough; whether it’s for yourself or as a gift, it’s the perfect little book to have.

kayleigh

 

 

LAST STOP ON THE REINDEER EXPRESS – Maudie Powell-Tuck, Karl James Mountford

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No picture can quite do justice to the sheer beauty of this meaningful Christmas picture book. This was a total cover buy – as soon as I recognised it as being illustrated by  Karl James Mountford, I bought it there and then having no clue about what was inside. So, when I sat down to read this book, I was captivated by story and the beautiful illustrations!

Last Stop on the Reindeer Express is a Christmas tale full of warmth and meaning. With more and more families not being the traditional nuclear family, at Christmas children can often feel torn and unsure about who they’ll spend Christmas with. This book tackles this difficult topic in a sensitive way that shows those children that they’re not alone, and that no matter who they spend Christmas with, they are loved.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough; whether or not it’s a book that’s relevant to your own situation, it’s a joy to read and the illustrations are magical! It’s definitely one to add to your bookshelf this Christmas.

kayleigh

THAT’S NOT MY LLAMA… – Fiona Watt, Rachel Wells

that's not my llama5/5

Honestly, I squealed as soon as I saw this book in the supermarket, I embarrassed my boyfriend as I ran across the aisle to grab my beautiful copy, and then I proceeded to grin like a cheshire cat all the way back home.

Similarly to the other Usborne touchy-feely books, we meet a variety of llamas who can’t possibly be my llama due to a series of different img_3636textures that make each one unique. This book is very colourful and engaging, and very fun to read.

That’s Not My Llama… is definitely my favourite in this awesome series from Usborne, even beating the beautiful That’s Not My Unicorn…! It makes the perfect gift for that llama-lover in your life, whether they’re big or small!