14+, Inspiring Essays, Summer Reads, Teen, YA, Young Adult, Young Adult Fiction

Summer Reads – I Will Not Be Erased

Books to be swept away with this summer…

There are SO MANY great books around at the moment and so I’d like to share a few that I think are particularly exciting.  I’m not going to plop them all together in one post but give each the opportunity to shine in it’s own right…

Hold on to your hats… here are my summer 2019 recommendations.

“I Will Not Be Erased” Our stories about growing-up as people of colour by gal-den

Recommended for Older Teens/YA and above! 

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Here’s the synopsis:

Fourteen joyous, funny and life-affirming essays about growing up from gal-dem’s talented writers.

gal-dem, the award-winning online and print magazine, is created by women and non-binary people of colour. In this thought-provoking and moving collection of fourteen essays, gal-dem’s writers use raw material from their teenage years – diaries, poems and chat histories – to give advice to their younger selves and those growing up today. gal-dem have been praised by the Guardian for being “the agents of change we need”, and these essays tackle important subjects including race, gender, mental health and activism, making this essential reading for any young person.

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“I Will Not Be Erased” was published by Walker Books back in early July 2019. You can find more information on where to buy it here (also your local indie will be able to get hold of it too if they don’t already have a copy.). It’s also available on Kindle.  

Paperback ISBN: 9781406386370

Find out more about the fabulous gal-dem here.

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Read it already?  Please feel free to let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Happy reading and I hope you have a fabulous summer!

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Fantasy, Fiction, Summer Reads, Suspense, Teen, YA, Young Adult, Young Adult Fiction

Summer Reads – The Cold is in her Bones

Books to be swept away with this summer…

There are SO MANY great books around at the moment and so I’d like to share a few that I think are particularly exciting.  I’m not going to plop them all together in one post but give each the opportunity to shine in it’s own right…

Hold on to your hats… here are my summer 2019 recommendations.

The Cold is in her Bones by Peternelle Van Arsdale

Recommended for Older Teens/YA and above…

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Here’s the synopsis:

One girl must uncover secrets of the past to save her friend from a terrible curse in this dark and mesmerizing story of love, revenge, and redemption inspired by the myth of Medusa.

Milla knows two things to be true: Demons are real, and fear will keep her safe.

Milla’s whole world is her family’s farm. She is never allowed to travel to the village and her only friend is her beloved older brother, Niklas. When a bright-eyed girl named Iris comes to stay, Milla hopes her loneliness might finally be coming to an end. But Iris has a secret she’s forbidden to share: The village is cursed by a demon who possesses girls at random, and the townspeople live in terror of who it will come for next.

Now, it seems, the demon has come for Iris. When Iris is captured and imprisoned with other possessed girls, Milla leaves home to rescue her and break the curse forever. Her only company on the journey is a terrible new secret of her own: Milla is changing, too, and may soon be a demon herself.

Suspenseful and vividly imagined, The Cold Is in Her Bones is a novel about the dark, reverberating power of pain, the yearning to be seen and understood, and the fragile optimism of love.

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The Cold Is in Her Bones was published by Simon & Schuster in March and you can find where to buy it here (also your local indie will be able to get hold of it too if they don’t already have a copy.) It’s available in paperback, eBook & on audio CD.

ISBN: 9781471160882

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Read it already?  Please feel free to let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Happy reading and I hope you have a fabulous summer!

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Mystery, Romance, Summer Reads, Teen, YA, Young Adult, Young Adult Fiction

Summer Reading – Serious Moonlight

Books to be swept away with this summer…

There are SO MANY great books around at the moment and so I’d like to share a few that I think are particularly exciting.  I’m not going to plop them all together in one post but give each the opportunity to shine in it’s own right…

Hold on to your hats… here are my summer 2019 recommendations.

Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

Recommended for Teen/Ya and above! 

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Here’s the synopsis:

Sometimes the best adventures 

happen under the moonlight

Eighteen-year-old Birdie hasn’t seen anything of the world. Raised and hone-schooled by her grandparents, she experiences life through her favourite mystery novels.

Then she takes a summer job working the night shift at a historic Seattle hotel and everything changes.  There she meets Daniel Aoki, the hotel’s distractingly good-looking driver, and soon they find themselves caught up in a real-life mystery of their own.  A reclusive writer is secretly meeting someone at the hotel, and Birdie is determined to get to the bottom of it.

But before she can uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must confront the most confounding mystery of all – her growing feelings for Daniel…

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I first fell in love with Jenn Bennett’s writing with Alex, Approximately.  Her novels are wonderfully uplifting and perfect escapism during your summer break.

Serious Moonlight was published by Simon and Schuster in May and you can find where to buy it here (also your local indie will be able to get hold of it too if they don’t already have a copy.)

ISBN: 9781471180729

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Read it already?  Please feel free to let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Happy reading and I hope you have a fabulous summer!

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Adventure, Blog Tour, Fantasy, Folk Tales, Teen, YA

The Stranger’s Guide To Talliston by John Tarrow

So today’s blog tour is filled with fantasy, magic and other realms… what more could you ask for?

Abandoned and alone, thirteen-year-old Joe’s world is shattered when he enters a deserted council house and becomes trapped within a labyrinth protecting the last magical places on earth. There, Joe discovers a book charting this immense no-man’s land, without time or place, its thirteen doors each leading to a different realm. Hunted by sinister foes, the boy is forced ever deeper into both the maze and the mystery of his missing parents. What will he find at the labyrinth’s centre, and can it reunite him with the family he so desperately needs?

Crossing through diverse landscapes from Victorian Britain to fifties New Orleans, The
Stranger’s Guide to Talliston is inspired by the internationally famous house and gardens
dubbed ‘Britain’s Most Extraordinary Home’ by the Sunday Times. It is a classic YA tale of
adventure that introduces readers to an otherworld hiding in plain sight, cloaked in magic and steeped in imagined history. Yet beyond its fearsome huntsmen and battling magicians dwells the secret that lies within all of us – the power to live extraordinary lives.

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A fascinating concept and with an extremely intriguing opening sentence…

THE BOY LIVED ALL ALONE in an abandoned school bus in the middle of a wooded roundabout.

A stunning cover and package holds an adventure filled 364 pages which is said to appeal to a YA readership.  It does almost feel as though it is written for younger readers though so any teen who enjoys fantasy and is not put off by the length may well enjoy it.  It’s fascinating to read about the author’s own connection with the house that inspired the story, showing that, as often is the case, a house can be the most marvellous of muses for writers.

Thank so much to Anne cater for inviting me to be a part of this Random Things Blog Tour.

The Stranger’s Guide To Talliston by John Tarrow is published by Unbound on the 11th of July 2019.

About the author

John Tarrow

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John Tarrow is a novelist, poet, storyteller and award-winning writer. His fascination with folk and faerie tales has taken him around the world, gathering threads of story and legend to weave into his own mythologies: his extensive studies in Lakota Sioux and Druidic traditions offer readers stories resonant with magic, folklore and the wonders of the natural world. He spent twenty-five years transforming a three-bedroom, semi-detached, ex-council house in Essex into the world-famous Talliston House and Gardens.

 

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Blog Tour, Family Drama, Romance, STEM Fiction, Teen, YA

Stilettos and Stardust by D L Pitchford

Today I’m delighted to host the blog tour for Stilettos & Stardust by D.L.Pitchford

A modern day Cinderella with a twist…

When high school seniors Noah Barton and Eden Prince’s academic rivalry ruins a thermodynamics demo, their physics teacher decides to help them get along. By forcing them to be lab partners.

As graduation approaches, Noah and Eden are too busy figuring out college to deal with each other. Noah’s football-loving dad sabotages his chance to win a big scholarship. Eden’s traditional mother cares more about finding her a serious boyfriend than encouraging her dreams. Winning big at the regional science fair is their last hope.

Will Noah follow in his astronaut mother’s footsteps?

Can Eden show her parents the environment is more important than any relationship?

Will Noah and Eden finally learn to work together?

Follow Noah and Eden’s budding romance in this emotionally charged, gender-swapped retelling of Cinderella.

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A few months back I watched a documentary on the 1986 Challenger disaster.  It sparked so many emotions in me.  The excitement leading up to the doomed mission, the aftermath and of course the families of those left behind.  Stilettos & Stardust took my mind briefly back to that documentary and the thoughts on how hard it must be to have a mother working in space.  Noah’s mother is an astronaut and as the stories begins we know that she has been involved in an accident that will change the family forever.  Noah is devastated but determined more than ever to follow in her footsteps.  Eden however has a mother who wants her to be ‘looked after’, to never have to worry about security.  Eden however has very different ideas.  She is equally determined to win a scholarship and make sure that she is in control of her future, one that doesn’t involved a husband!

Bringing Eden and  Noah together as lab partners creates an incredibly volatile situation.   Both are competitive, argumentative and wanting to take control but to stand a chance of winning the scholarship they need to learn to work together.  We soon see that there is a very fine line between love and hate and before long the sparks are throwing up lots of complicated situations with families, friends and feelings that both are finding hard to understand.

I loved the STEM element of this novel.  It added so much interest and really gave the story a great hook.  Eden is rude, difficult and likes to be very much in control, it took me a while to warm to her.  But, once I got to know her I could see the beauty of the girl underneath and I was hopeful that all would come good for both her and Noah (who was easy to love right from the very start).   The thing I loved most was the way that both characters were equal, there was no damsel in distress – I think this may be where the reference to Cinderella comes from in the synopsis.  I personally wouldn’t class it as a Cinderella story, but a contemporary story about fighting for what you want and, hopefully, finding someone to share it with along the way.

A really lovely teen/YA read that will be enjoyed by romance and science lovers alike.

Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour.  I shall definitely be adding a copy of this in to the School Library.  A super YA read!

About the author

D.L. Pitchford

1YA and NA author D. L. Pitchford is best known for her brutally honest stories and realistic characters. Throughout her childhood, art and literature were encouraged in every form. Pitchford fell in love with The Lord of the Rings, The Dark Is Rising, and Harry Potter. By age ten, she wrote her first fantasy book. Her love of writing grew exponentially.

In 2013, Pitchford received her BA in English, Writing, and Fine Arts from Drury University. During her studies, she focused on the human condition and penned the first scenes of her debut novel. IF WE HAD NO WINTER released April 2017 and has been commended for its gritty tone and character growth.

Pitchford lives with her husband and two sons in Springfield, Missouri, where she continues writing young and new adult novels.

Website: http://www.dlpitchford.com/
Twitter @dlpitchford
Author Page on Facebook
Instagram @dlpitchford

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Books that adults should read, Relationship Tales, STEM Fiction, Teen, YA

The Quiet At The End Of The World by Lauren James

How far would you go to save those you love?

Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people on the planet after a virus caused global infertility. Closeted in a pocket of London and doted upon by a small, ageing community, the pair spend their days mudlarking and looking for treasure – until a secret is uncovered that threatens not only their family but humanity’s entire existence.

Now Lowrie and Shen face an impossible choice: in the quiet at the end of the world, they must decide what to sacrifice to save the whole human race…

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All that history – all that time – wiped away in one moment.  Just like us.  Humans will be as easily lost as these footprints, when the last of us dies.  Our lives are particles on a riverbed being lost by the waters of time.  Here and then gone in a moment.  Nothing, in the grand scheme of things.

For me, this is one of the underlying themes of this book.  It ponders the bigger questions that we have about our very existence with subtlety and grace.  What is it all for? What happens when human beings are no longer here, when WE face extinction? In Lowrie’s world that reality is not too far away but what The Quiet At The End Of The World does, within the pages of this exciting story about two teenagers facing the world alone, is to look at how incredible human beings are. So surely there must be a way that, in the end, we can save ourselves.  The capacity of genius is there within us. We are capable of evolving, moving forward and having a real positive effect on the world in which we live.  Yes we can be selfish, arrogant and our obsession with power is our worst enemy and yet we have this huge potential to be amazing.

If you think that the world is going to end after you’ve gone, then you’re not trying hard enough to find a way to live.

I realise now that every person can make a difference.  However small a change, it counts.

Within this YA novel are characters and situations that young people can relate to. They are facing these massive problems and yet they also experience the same doubts, fears and confusion that we all have felt growing up.  It highlights how these things never really change.  The issues may alter slightly but when it comes down to it there is the same anguish over life, our world and our place within it, as we move through to adulthood whilst getting to know and accept ourselves for who we are.

The Quiet At The End Of The World  explores identity, sexuality and the desire to follow find our own way, no matter what the world throws at you.  Lowrie is a strong female lead.  She’s intelligent, adventurous and determined to make her own place in the world.  She’s fiercely loyal and courageous.  Her relationship with Shen is interestingly explored, the pressure of being the youngest and possibly the last of the human race makes the friendship they have even more precious.  I loved watching how things developed with them.

Their fascination with the world and it’s history is strong from the outset. Whilst out mudlarking one day they stumble across a relic from the past century and with the help of social media records are able to uncover the mysterious owner and discover a little more about the virus that has caused the global infertility.  Gradually they find out more and more, information that becomes vital as a new danger emerges and threatens the very existence of everyone they love and care for.

Author, Lauren James, is a graduate of Chemistry and Physics and through her novels she is making science look cool and relevant.  Her love and knowledge of technology is clear and it’s good to see it portrayed in a positive light. For example the dangers of social media are often (quite rightly) highlighted but these things are now part of who we are and can also be a positive part of today’s world. Lauren doesn’t preach to her readers, she simply shows how our actions, no matter how small, do have a consequence. But she doesn’t condemn, she inspires. As a Librarian, Lauren makes my job terribly easy to find smart, sassy novels for teens & young adults who like their fiction to reflect who they are, or who they aspire to be.

This is a fantastic novel. Lowrie and Shen are normal teenagers in an abnormal world. So much depends on them and although their plight is a story of science fiction it is incredibly thought-provoking. There are so many things within the pages of this story that are so very real. Perfect for teens & Ya, but for all the adults out there – never be afraid to pick up a book such as this. If your children are reading it then it’s important but more than that it will also tap in to that part of you that was young and full of dreams as to what the world could be for you.

The Quiet At The End Of The World is a novel that will definitely be one of my top reads for 2019.

I think about the legacy we’re leaving behind all the time: pollution and plastic and buildings and everything else. As one of the last humans, my choices and decisions are imbued with the full weight of the billions of lives that came before me. It feels like my ancestors are watching me, waiting to see how I ensure their legacy, how I remember them.’

About the author

Screen Shot 2019-03-30 at 09.32.21Lauren James was born in 1992, and graduated in 2014 from the University of Nottingham, UK, where she studied Chemistry and Physics. She is the Carnegie-nominated British Young Adult author of The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, The Quiet at the End of the World and The Next Together series.

She started writing during secondary school English classes, because she couldn’t stop thinking about a couple who kept falling in love throughout history. She sold the rights to the novel when she was 21, whilst she was still at university.

Her books have sold over fifty thousand copies in the UK alone, and been translated into five languages worldwide. She has been described as ‘Gripping romantic sci-fi’ by the Wall Street Journal and ‘A strange, witty, compulsively unpredictable read which blows most of its new YA-suspense brethren out of the water’ by Entertainment Weekly.

Her other novels include The Last Beginning, named one of the best LGBT-inclusive works for young adults by the Independent, and The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, which was inspired by a Physics calculation she was assigned at university. Lauren is a passionate advocate of STEM further education, and all of her books feature female scientists in prominent roles. The Quiet at the End of the World considers the legacy and evolution of the human race into the far future.

Lauren is published in the UK by Walker Books and in the US by HarperCollins. She lives in the West Midlands and is an Arts Council grant recipient. She has written articles for numerous publications, including the Guardian, Buzzfeed, The Toast, and the Children’s Writers and Artist’s Yearbook 2019. She teaches creative writing at university level, and works with Writing West Midlands, providing creative writing courses to children through the Spark Young Writers programme.

You can find her on Twitter at @Lauren_E_James, Tumblr at @laurenjames or her website http://www.laurenejames.co.uk, where you can subscribe to her newsletter to be kept up to date with her new releases and receive bonus content.

Blog Tour, Books that adults should read, Debut, Fiction, Teen, Time to talk, Young Adult, Young Adult Fiction

The Burning by Laura Bates

NEW SCHOOL.

TICK.

NEW TOWN.

TICK.

NEW SURNAME.

TICK.

SOCIAL MEDIA PROFILES?

ERASED.

There’s nothing to trace Anna back to her old life.

Nothing to link her to the ‘incident’.

At least that’s what she thinks.

Until the whispers start up again….

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So today I am thrilled to be hosting the Blog Tour for The Burning, the first YA novel by Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project.  Laura is the author of three non-fiction titles exploring gender inequality and the difficulties still facing girls and women in the world today.

Last week I was invited along to the launch of The Burning and to listen to Laura in conversation with Anna James at Foyles Bookshop.  She was incredibly inspiring to listen to, especially after reading The Burning just a few days before.

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This book is incredible and as a piece of YA fiction very, very important. The Burning is not only a great piece of fiction, but will also help others who suffer from any similar form of abuse and bullying.  Anna is a character that sadly many girls and women will be able to identify with.  In the author’s note at the back of the book Laura yells us that ‘almost everything that happens to Anna is based on the real-life experiences of students I have worked with in schools, or young people who have contacted me online.’  I find it absolutely shocking and this book, I hope, will give those who face such experiences the courage to speak out and, at the very least, to know that they are not to blame. There are SO many discussions that this novel can inspire. I urge you to read it, no matter what age or gender.

Anna’s world  falls apart when she shares an intimate photograph with someone she trusts.   To use something so intimate that has been shared with trust is an even greater betrayal and yet she is the one who is vilified.  This isn’t a simple girl against boy story.  It shows the power that rumour has and the effect it can have over people.  ‘A rumour is like a fire.  You might think you’ve extinguished it, but all it takes is one spark…’ Girls, boys and adults are seen as behaving in a terrible, unacceptable manner but we also see great courage and support within the pages of this story too.

‘The Burning tells the story of fifteen-year-old Anna who has moved to a small Scottish village with her mother.  There’s nothing to trace Anna back to her old life. Nothing to link her to the ‘incident’.  At least that’s what she thinks… until the whispers start up again.

Desperate for a distraction to escape the brutal bullying at school, Anna finds herself in a history project about a young girl, Maggie, who was accused of witchcraft hundreds of years before.  Anna finds herself irresistibly drawn to the tale of Maggie, a girl whose story has terrifying similarities to Anna’s own…

The Parallels between the persecution of medieval witches and the social burning of modern day Anna become unnervingly apparent.  the reader will be left in no doubt: it’s time to extinguish society’s sexist attitudes.’

I found this book deeply unsettling and I believe that parents, teachers and adults in general should read this story. It gives us an insight into what our young people face. It stirred certain memories hidden in my subconscious. Those moments growing up that we ignore and try to bury. Yet in comparison, back in my teenage years, we had so much less to contend with.  Social media has moved the goal posts dramatically and opens up the possibility of being mercilessly hounded and bullied at any time of day or night to an ever growing audience.  We need to sit up and take notice now.  With an ever growing online-presence,  our past and experiences really never leave us. They are there for all to see and the level of abuse possible through these mediums is scary. The dual time frame brilliantly shows us that the problems girls face aren’t a contemporary problem and that even after years of feminist campaigning things haven’t changed, there are simply new ways for women to be persecuted and mistreated. The term witch-hunt for so many girls and women is still very real.  This snowballing form of abuse at times can feel like a form of torture. The constant ping of social media notifications gradually pushing them to the limits and offering no escape or peace of mind.

As a parent I will look to inform my son. As a Librarian I will make these stories accessible to my students and teachers. As a book blogger I will share the word as much as I can. This book has made me stop and think. I was shocked at how those who should have been protecting Anna were simply not equipped to do so with either experience or understanding.  It has made me so much more aware. Feminism isn’t just about equality. It’s about a woman’s right to feel safe. To not be used and abused simply because she is a woman.

About the Author

Laura Bates is the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, an ever-increasing collection of over 100,000 testimonies of gender inequality, with branches in 25 countries worldwide. She is author of Everyday Sexism, Misogynation and the Sunday Times bestseller Girl Up. Laura writes regularly for the Guardian, New York Times and others and win a British Press Award In 2015. She is a prolific commentator, appearing regularly on Newsnight, The Today Programme, Woman’s Hour, Channel 4 News, BBC News, BBC Breakfast and others. She works closely with politicians, businesses, schools, police forces and organisations from the Council of Europe to the United Nations to tackle gender inequality. She was named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list 2015 and has been named a woman of the year by Cosmopolitan, Red Magazine, The Huffington Post, and The Sunday Times Magazine. Laura is a contributor at Women Under Siege, a New York-based project tackling rape in conflict worldwide and is patron of SARSAS, Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support.

You can follow her on Twitter: @EverydaySexism and Instagram @laura_bates_

To find out more about the Everyday Sexism Project or to add your voice visit the website here.

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