Monday 29 January 2018

BOOK REVIEW | 'Second Best Friend' by Non Pratt (****)

Hey guys, and happy Monday! Today I am really excited to be sharing a book with you that I read just before Christmas, but due to exams and essay deadlines, I haven't had the chance to review yet!

Of course, this brilliant book is Non Pratt's new novella Second Best Friend, a story about friendship and rivalry and school politics. It is a story that is wonderfully written, with a lot of heart but also an abundance of honesty.

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

Jade and Becky are best friends, but when Jade’s ex-boyfriend lets on that everyone thinks Becky is the better of the two, Jade finds herself noticing just how often she comes second to her best friend. There’s nothing Jade is better at than Becky. 

So when Jade is voted in as Party Leader ahead of her school’s General Election only to find herself standing against Becky, Jade sees it as a chance to prove herself. If there’s one thing she can win, it’s this election – even if it means losing her best friend.

I was so excited to get my hands on this book; not only is Non Pratt an all-time favourite author of mine - her writing is so wonderful and gritty and honest - but also I have been loving Barrington Stoke books at the minute. I love that they are relatively short - perfect for a quick bedtime read, or for more less confident readers, and also the pages are of superb quality. 

As for Second Best Friend, this was a brilliant read and everything I expected from Non. I loved the premise of a story about the complexity of teenage female friendships, in the context of a school election. There simply are not enough books about female friendships in YA (especially if we compare this to the number of books there about romance and love triangles!) and this was a refreshing book that did not diminish how complicated, wonderful and heartbreaking female friendships can be. 

I also loved that the main bulk of the story was focused on the school election, which was something totally different to anything else I have read in YA. However, what I enjoyed the most about this book was the voice - it was so fresh and imaginative and realistic. I could relate to so much in the story and I feel like this is the perfect handbook of friendships for teenagers! My favourite thing about Non Pratt's writing is that the characters are such realistic representations of teenagers, and she manages to present the happenings and complications of teenage life without being condescending in any way.

If you're looking for a quick read that makes you savour every word, then Second Best Friend is definitely the story for you. This book has just made me even more excited for what else is up Non's writing sleeve!

Check out Barrington Stoke's other brilliant titles here:

Until next time :) 

Monday 22 January 2018


Hey guys, and happy Monday! Today I am very excited to be back with another DITL of an author post! These are one of my favourite features to do and I absolutely love reading them, so I hope you do too.

The author I am featuring today is Chris Chalmers,  author of the novels Five To One, Light From Other Windows and for children, Gillian Vermillion — Dream Detective. His third adult novel, Dinner At The Happy Skeleton is published by J.Mendel Books on November 2nd. 

So without any further ado, here is Chris Chalmers to tell us all about his day! 

I have two sorts of writing days. The ones where I write my novel, and the ones writing the other stuff.

My ‘day job’ is advertising copywriter. It has been since the late Eighties, though it’s changed a bit since I went freelance in 2002. I mostly work in London agencies, helping out where there’s an overspill of creative briefs or someone is on holiday, maternity leave etc. All those predictions I read in my Dr Who Annual when I was ten— how by 2020 we’d all be working remotely with a robot dog to bring us coffee — aren’t looking good. Ad agencies still like bums on seats, so when I’m freelancing you’ll usually find me somewhere glassy and open-plan in Farringdon or London Bridge. I’m the one waiting for I.T. to hook me up, trying not to look twenty years older than all the bearded, tattooed striplings around me.  

You can’t blame a chef for settling for beans on toast after a long day at work. Similarly, I can’t bring myself to dive into my novel after a shift writing about mortgages. I have deep admiration for those novelist mums, up at half-past five, putting in two hours before they whip up the family breakfast and rush off to work. Hence my other sort of writing day.

When I’m not copywriting I write contemporary fiction about people-like-us — with a side order of helicopter crashes, tsunamis and murderous cryptozoologists. I’m awake about seven a.m. My other half, a fervent yogi, is long gone by then, off to his early morning practice in Soho. My own kick-start isn’t quite so reliable, but I’m usually at the MacBook by eight. After four adult novels and another for children, I’ve weaned myself off starting the day by reading what I wrote yesterday. It’s too easy and it eats away the productive hours. And hell, I’ll be redrafting this thing again and again and again — so why worry what colour I chose for next door’s cat?       

Five days out of six, at 10.45 everything stops for gym. This is preceded by a coffee for the necessary caffeine boost; out, if I’m feeling flush, at home if I’m not. Keeping to a routine comes easily to me, a big advantage for a writer. I’ve kept a diary since I was 13 and never missed a day, bar the odd double-duty after a messy night out. I find the gym as easy to stick to. I don’t claim superhuman willpower — it’s just the way I am. I also think I’d go crazy if I spent all day at my desk, so I relish the excuse to get out.

That’s followed by lunch, cooked by my adept husband who makes vegan eating a delight even when you’re not one yourself. He is a concert pianist and composer, so much of the time we’re both at home, which I love. My study is upstairs overlooking the garden. He works downstairs, at one sort of keyboard or another. Our house is small, so when he's practicing I can hear every note — if I want to. Mostly I don’t even notice, for which I thank years of crashing out ad concepts in offices with Spotify blaring in the corner.   
I’m back at my laptop by two, and work through till six or seven. When I’m writing a first draft, I try to hit a thousand words a day and feel bad if I don’t. (Where would we be without that little word counter?) I’d like to say I’m the driven sort, who takes his writing down to dinner, the settee and eventually up to bed. But I have no problem switching off. I rarely give my novel a thought till I’m back at the coalface next morning. A bit of distance does me good — and by then I’m ready to pick up the threads all over again.   

Thank you so much, Chris, for appearing on my blog! 

Check Chris Chalmers out here:

Facebook @chrischalmersnovelist

Twitter: CCsw19

Until next time :) 

Thursday 18 January 2018


Hey guys, and happy Thursday! Today I am very excited to be back with my children's book feature, to celebrate the publication of I Swapped My Brother on the Internet by Jo Simmons! This is a hilariously fun read that I think you all will enjoy, great for kids to read by themselves and to be read to as well!

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

I can get a new brother? On the internet?' Jonny muttered. 'Oh sweet mangoes of heaven!'

Everyone has dreamed of being able to get rid of their brother or sister at one time or another - but for Jonny, the dream is about to become a reality with! What could be better than someone awesome to replace Ted, Jonny's obnoxious older brother.

But finding the perfect brother isn't easy, as Jonny discovers when Sibling Swap sends him a line of increasingly bizarre replacements: first a merboy, then a brother raised by meerkats, and then the ghost of Henry the Eighth! What's coming next?! Suddenly old Ted isn't looking so bad. But can Jonny ever get him back?

A hilarious tale of wish fulfilment gone wrong that every child will relate to - perfect for fans of Pamela Butchart, My Brother is a Superhero and David Baddiel's The Parent Agency.

And here is an extract from chapter one and two which should hopefully get your tastebuds tingling!

The advert popped up in the corner of the screen. Jonny clicked on it instantly. The Sibling Swap website pinged open, showing smiling brothers and happy sisters, all playing and laughing and having a great time together.

What crazy alternative universe was this? Where were the big brothers teasing their little brothers about being rubbish at climbing and slow at everything? Where were the wedgies and ear flicks? What about the name-calling? This looked like a world Jonny had never experienced, a world in which brothers and sisters actually liked each other!
‘Oh sweet mangoes of heaven!’ Jonny muttered.

It was pretty bonkers, but it was definitely tempting. No, scrap that: it was essential. Jonny couldn’t believe his luck. Just think what Sibling Swap could offer him. A new brother. A better brother. A brother who didn’t put salt in his orange squash, who didn’t call him a human sloth, who didn’t burp in his ear. That kind of brother.

Jonny had to try it. He could always return the new brother if things didn’t work out. It was a no-brainer.

He clicked on the application form. What could go wrong?

Only a little while before Jonny saw the Sibling Swap advert, he and his older brother, Ted, had had a fight. Another fight.

It was a particularly stupid fight, and it had started like all stupid fights do – over something stupid. This time, pants. But not just any pants. The Hanging Pants of Doom.
Jonny and Ted were walking their dog, Widget, on the nearby Common. They arrived at a patch of woodland, where an exception- ally large and colourful pair of men’s pants had been hanging in a tree for ages. These pants had become legendary over the years the brothers had been playing here. There was a horrible glamour about them. The boys were grossed out and slightly scared of them, but could never quite ignore them. And so the pants had become the Hanging Pants of Doom, and now, unfortunately, Jonny had just lobbed Widget’s Frisbee into the tree. It was stuck in a branch, just below the mythical underwear.

‘Oh swear word,’ said Jonny.

‘Nice one!’ said Ted. ‘You threw it up there, so you have to get it down.’

Jonny frowned. Two problems presented themselves. One was the fact that the Frisbee was very close to the pants, making the possibility of touching the revolting garment very real. Second, Jonny wasn’t very good at climbing.

‘Go on, Jonny, up you go,’ teased Ted. ‘Widget can’t wait all day for his Frisbee. Climb up and get it ... What’s that? You’re rubbish at climbing? Sorry, what? You would prefer it if I went and got the Frisbee, as I’m truly excellent at climbing?’

‘All RIGHT!’ fumed Jonny, ripping off his jacket. ‘I’ll climb up and get it. Look after my coat.’

‘Thanks!’ said Ted. ‘I might use it as a blanket. You’re so slow, we could be here until midnight.’

Jonny began his climb slowly, as Ted had predicted, and rather shakily, as Ted had also predicted.

‘I’m just taking my time, going carefully. Don’t rush me!’ said Jonny, as he reached for the next branch.

‘Spare us the running commentary,’ Ted said.

After several minutes, a tiny dog appeared below the tree, followed by its elderly owner, and it began yapping up at Jonny.

‘That’s my brother up there,’ Ted said to the lady, pointing up. ‘He’s thrown his pants into the tree again and has to go and get them.’

The lady squinted up. Her dog continued yip-yapping.

‘Oh yes, I see,’ she said. ‘Well, they’re rather splendid pants, aren’t they? I can see why he wants to get them back. Are those spaceships on them?’

‘Cars,’ said Ted.

‘Very fetching,’ said the lady. ‘But he shouldn’t throw them into the trees again. A magpie might get them.’

‘That’s what I told him,’ said Ted, trying not to laugh. ‘Sorry, I better go and help or we’ll be here until Christmas. He’s like a human sloth!’

With that, Ted bounced up into the tree, pulling himself quickly up its branches and passing his brother, just as Jonny was within touching distance of the Frisbee.

‘Got it!’ said Ted, snatching the Frisbee and tossing it down to Widget, before swing- ing off a branch and landing neatly on his feet. ‘You can come down now, bro. Unless you really do want to touch the Pants of Doom. You’re pretty close, actually. Look! They’re just there.’

Jonny made a noise in his throat – a bit like a growl – and felt his face burning bright red. He was shaking with anger and humiliation as he slowly began making his way down.
By the time the brothers banged back into the house, Jonny was speechless with fury. He ran upstairs. He could hear his mum telling him off for slamming the front door, but too bad. He smashed his bedroom door shut too. There! How’s that? He was sick of Ted teasing him, sick of being the younger brother. And as for telling that old lady that the Hanging Pants of Doom were his ...

Jonny flipped open his laptop and, miracu- lously, there was the Sibling Swap website telling him that all this could change. What perfect timing. Had the Sibling Swap team climbed into his head and read his thoughts? Who cared?
He read the home page:
ometimes you don’t get the brother or sister you deserve, but here at Sibling Swap, we aim to put that right. With so many brothers and sisters out there, we can match you to the perfect one!

His heart began to beat faster.

Swapping your brother or sister has never been easier with Sibling Swap! Simply fill out the application form and we will supply you with a new brother or sister within twenty- four hours, carefully chosen from our massive database of possible matches. Our dedicated team of Swap operatives works 24/7 to find the best match for you, but if you are not completely happy, you can return your replacement sibling for a new match or your original brother or sister.

Amazing! For the first time in his almost ten years, this website was offering Jonny power, choice, freedom! It felt good! He rubbed his hands together and began filling out the form.

First, there were two options:

Are you swapping a sibling?

Are you putting yourself up to be swapped?

‘Easy,’ Jonny muttered. ‘I’m the one doing the swapping. Me. I have the power!’ He did a sort of evil genius laugh as he clicked on the top box. By Tic Tacs, this was exciting! Next, the form asked:

Are you swapping a brother or sister?

‘Also easy,’ muttered Jonny. ‘Brother.’ Then:

Would you like to receive a brother or a sister?
Jonny clicked the box marked ‘Brother’. Then he had to add some information about himself.

Age: nine.

Hobbies: biking, swimming, computer games, doughnuts, messing about. Least favourite things:

• my brother, Ted (he teases me all the time and reckons he’s cool just because he goes to secondary school)
• being nine (I am nearly ten, but can I have a brother who is younger than me or maybe the same age please?)
• sprouts
• climbing
• being sick

Then there was a whole page about the kind of brother Jonny might like. He quickly ticked the following boxes: fun; adventurous; enjoys food; enjoys sports and swimming; likes dogs. He didn’t tick the box marked ‘living’ or the one marked ‘human’. He just wanted a brother, so it was obvious, wasn’t it?

That ought to do it, Jonny reckoned. His heart was galloping now. In just three minutes it was ready to send. He sat back in his chair. ‘Just one click,’ he said, ‘and I get a brother upgrade by this time tomorrow. Friday, in fact! Ready for the weekend!’

Jonny felt slightly dizzy. He giggled quietly to himself. He felt giddy with power! All he had to do was send off the form. Easy! But then he hesitated ... Should he do this? Was it OK? Would he get into trouble? Jonny’s dad no longer lived with him and Ted, so he might not notice, but what would his mum say? She’d be pleased, Jonny decided quickly. Yes! After all, she was fed up with Jonny and Ted arguing. This was the perfect solution. Then, with a tiny frown, he wondered how Ted might feel about being swapped, but before he could puzzle this out, there was his brother again, shouting up the stairs.

‘Dinner, loser!’ Ted yelled. ‘Let me know if you need help climbing down the stairs.

They are quite steep. It could take you a while.’

That was it! For the second time that day, Jonny felt the anger bubbling up inside like a can of shaken Pixie Fizz. Enough! Double enough!

‘So I’m the rubbish younger brother, am I? Well, here’s one thing I can do really bril-liantly,’ he muttered and, jutting out his chin, hit the send button.


‘Done!’ he said, and slammed the laptop shut.

Keep an eye out for a review on my kid's book feature soon!

Make sure you guys check out the other spots on the blog tour <3

Buy I Swapped My Brother On The Internet here:

Check out Jo Simmons here:

Until next time :)

Tuesday 16 January 2018

AUTHOR INTERVIEW | 5 Minutes With... Non Pratt

Hey guys, and happy Tuesday! Today I am really excited to be posting another author interview, this time with the absolutely brilliant Non Pratt! I have been a huge Non fan ever since I read Trouble back in 2015, so today I am thrilled to have her on my blog to chat about her brand new book, Second Best Friend! You can take my word for it, Second Best Friend is one of Non's best books yet - it is so incredibly real and relevant, with such an authentic YA voice. 

Sounds intriguing? Check out the blurb here...

Jade and Becky are best friends, but when Jade’s ex-boyfriend lets on that everyone thinks Becky is the better of the two, Jade finds herself noticing just how often she comes second to her best friend. There’s nothing Jade is better at than Becky. 

So when Jade is voted in as Party Leader ahead of her school’s General Election only to find herself standing against Becky, Jade sees it as a chance to prove herself. If there’s one thing she can win, it’s this election – even if it means losing her best friend.

So without any further ado, here's Non to talk all things Second Best Friend, friendships mixed in with student politics, and why YA is so totally awesome <3

What was the inspiration behind Second Best Friend?

I’m obsessed with friendship novels and I’ve been wanting to write about the less positive side of female friendships for a while. When I read an article in The Pool speculating about Rosamund Pike being content to be number 2 in her career because she was a happy number 1 to all her friends and family, I started thinking about what it would be like to feel like you were second best in your career (or at school) and all your friends and family thought you were second best compared to your best friend.

Tell us a bit more about the main character in the book, Jade. Do you have anything in common with her?

Yes. I frequently put my best friends on a pedestal – I think everything about them is so brilliant and I want to spend all my time with them, but by doing that I’m setting myself up to see myself as inferior. There’s been many times in my life when I’ve experienced some of the things that happen to Jade – someone getting better marks than me in a test, a boyfriend telling me my friend’s prettier, not getting picked for something that really mattered, people always asking where my friend was if I went out without her. Fortunately, when it’s only here and there, it’s a lot easier to handle than when the comparisons seem to pour down like a deluge, drowning the better part of your character and turning you into something you’d rather not be, which is what happens to poor Jade. 

What made you want to write about teenage friendships, particularly in the context of a school election?!

I always want to write about friends. Much as I love romance, I find friendship more varied and tricksy – and important. Having said that, if I wanted to write a novel where I set one friend against another, I didn’t want it to fall into an over-familiar trope of two girls wanting the same guy (or girl), or competing in a beauty pageant. I wanted an arena that gave Jade and Becky a chance to be measured on something more than their looks or their value as a sexual partner – what better way to set them against each other than within a political environment?

What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

My main advice is to write for love – it can be lonely and tiring on both a mental and emotional level at times, why spend your time doing that it if you don’t love it?! The added advantage of writing for love, means that it’s OK to stop sometimes, when it feels too much like a chore. You’re allowed to take a break and come back to it. Also, be patient, especially if you’re a younger writer who feels like time is running away from you. Some writers find their voice quickly, others take time and that’s OK. It’s not a race.

Sum up Second Best Friend in three words!

Friendship, politics, rivalry.

Thank you so much Non, for appearing on my blog!

Keep an eye out for my review of Second Best Friend coming soon...

Buy Second Best Friend here:

Check out Non Pratt here:

Until next time :)

Sunday 14 January 2018

ZENITH BLOG TOUR | 5 Minutes With... Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings

Hey guys, and happy Sunday! Today I am soooo excited to be hosting a 5 Minutes With post - not only have I not done one in a while, but also I am interviewing none other than dynamic author duo Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings, authors of Zenith, which was released on Thursday! So if you haven't picked up your copy yet, I don't know what you're waiting for?!

If you need any more encouragement that this book is out of this world, check out the blurb here...

There is darkness sweeping across the stars. 

Most know Androma Racella as the Bloody Baroness: a powerful mercenary whose reign of terror stretches across the Mirabel Galaxy. To those aboard her fearsome glass starship the Maurader, she’s just Andi, their captain and protector. 

When a routine mission goes awry, the all-girl crew’s resilience is tested as they find themselves in a most unfamiliar place: at the mercy of a sadistic bounty hunter connected to Andi’s past and a harrowing betrayal. 

Meanwhile, on the far side of the galaxy, a ruthless ruler waits in the shadows of the planet Xen Ptera, biding her time to exact revenge for the destruction of her people. The final pieces of her deadly plan are about to fall into place, unleashing a plot that will tear Mirabel in two. 

Andi and her crew embark on a dangerous, soul-testing journey that could restore order to their ship—or just as easily start a war that will devour worlds. As the Marauder hurtles towards the unknown, and Mirabel hangs in the balance, the only thing certain is that in a galaxy run on lies and illusion, no one can be trusted. 

From internet sensation Sasha Alsberg and author Lindsay Cummings comes a new serialized space opera, full of action, fantastical intrigue, and steamy star-crossed romance.  

For fans of popular sci-fi books and fantasy books for teens such as Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, Wool by Hugh Howey, Truthwitch by Susan Dennard, and A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas.

And without further ado, here are Sasha and Lindsay to chat with us all about Zenith, exploring outer space, and how they make their co-writing work...

What is the inspiration behind Zenith?

Zenith was inspired by our love of classic scifi like Firefly and Star Wars, with a little bit of Game of Thrones’ fantasy elements thrown in. 

Tell us a bit more about the main character, Andi. Do either of you have anything in common with her?

Andi is the captain of the crew. She’s a very strong character, but she’s got a really dark past. She’s done things she’s not proud of, but she’s also had strong reasons for why she does what she does. We love how loyal Andi is to her crew, but we also love how she learns how to lean on others over the course of the novel. There’s a lot of elements of both of us in each member of the crew! It’s fun to weave in things like that with our characters. For Andi, we’re both a bit stubborn like she is!

What made you want to write a novel about an all-girl space crew set in space? 

Because we’re young women who grew up fantasizing about exploring outer space! Now we’re able to do it through the pages of our own book!

What was your writing process like?

Scattered and messy but fun! We write on google docs, a live document that can be accessed by both of us at the same time. Our creative meetings on Facetime are a lot of chatting and then at the end we start to plan out Zenith stuff. It’s mostly just a big hangout with some work thrown in at the end (okay, a LOT of work, but it’s still fun!)

Why is YA literature so special?

It really meant something to both of us, growing up, and it will continue to mean something because it’s got a special place in both of our hearts. YA helped us both when we were in the midst of sadness and sickness and everything else under the sun, and now we hope Zenith helps others in their own ways.

What advice would you give to a young, aspiring writer?

Write! Write! Write! Write some more.

Sum up Zenith in three words.

Bloody. Sarcastic. Intergalactic! 

Thank you so much, Sasha and Lindsay, for appearing on my blog!

Make sure you guys check out the rest of the spots on the blog tour <3

Buy Zenith here:

Check out Sasha and Lindsay here:

Until next time :)

Monday 1 January 2018

THE DBR AWARDS 2017 | My Year In Books

Hey guys, and happy Monday! Today I am really excited to be posting my yearly New Years post - my version of a Top 10 books I've read this year. The DBR Awards allow me to share with you which books really rocked my year - and I split them into categories so you can get a sense of what kind of book it is, in case you want to pick it up yourself! (And obviously, I would highly recommend that you do...)

I have read so many brilliant books this year, and for that, I would like to thank the wonderful publishers and authors who have kindly sent me the most fabulous new publications, the friends who have recommended to me some great reads, and my university professors who have put some excellent stuff on my reading lists...

 I will link my review (If I wrote one) if not, I will link the Goodreads page <3

So without further ado, here are the winners of the DBR Awards 2017!

Best Historical Fiction

The Rasputin Dagger - Theresa Breslin

The Game-Changer

Things a Bright Girl Can Do - Sally Nicholls

Best Adult Fiction 

The Girls - Emma Cline

Best Non-Fiction

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Kids Speak Out - Susan Kuklin


Phantom Limbs - Paula Garner

Best 'Classic' Novel

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - James Joyce

The Important Book

The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

Best Poetry/Short Story Collection

Almost Midnight - Rainbow Rowell

Funniest Book 

Freshers - Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

If you have great reading taste like me and have read any of the books above let me know!

Congratulations to all of the authors whose books have won, and thank you for all the wonderful books you write (and please, PLEASE continue to write more PLEASEEEEE)

And another huge thank you to all the bloggers who continue to spread the word about the amazing books that these wonderful authors write! 

Until next time :)