Saturday 31 March 2018

5* BOOK REVIEW | 'The Unpredictability of Being Human' by Linni Ingemundsen

Hey guys, and happy Saturday! Today I am thrilled to be sharing this book review with you for a book I read after Christmas (I know, I have been so bad at reviewing books recently!) I zoomed through it in a day so I think that is testament to how much I loved it, as I don't binge that many books! It made me sad as well, as I wanted to drag it out as long as humanly possible, yes, it was that good.

Also, just a side note, there's going to be quite a lot of book reviews coming from me in the next few weeks, I am on Easter break so in between dissertation and essay writing I am going to be catching up on reviewing all of the great books I have been sent the last few months from lovely publishers :)

I was very kindly sent The Unpredictability of Being Human by Usborne in exchange for an honest review :)

The Unpredictability of Being Human is a gorgeous YA novel set in Norway, following the lives of Malin and the people who surround her. Some confuse her a little more than others. Her Dad always loses his temper, her Mum seemingly can't cope without her wine, and her brother Sigve is always getting into trouble. Malin is growing up and, if that isn't hard enough, secrets and lies surround her and at times it's hard to keep herself from drowning under them.

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

Meet Malin, a fifteen-year-old who sees the world differently. Malin knows she couldn’t change much about her life, even if she got to play God. Her dad would still yell all the time – especially as Malin is still friends with Hanna, the girl she met shoplifting. Her mum would still say a glass of wine is good for her heart – and Mum needs it, with Malin’s brother, Sigve, getting into trouble all the time. And Malin would still be Malin. Because she can’t be anybody else. 

In a voice bursting with immediacy and truth, Malin shares the absurdities of growing up and fitting in as her family struggles with the buried pain of mistakes made and secrets kept.

Profound, compassionate and as funny as it is dark, Malin’s story is an offbeat examination and celebration of the brutal, bizarre and beautiful unpredictability of being human.

If you love the freshness and honesty of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, the emotional depth of John Green, and the irreverent wit of Little Miss Sunshine, push this to the top of your TBR pile.

I absolutely adored this book, it was everything that I love about YA all contained in one beautiful little book. I demolished it in one sitting; I couldn't get enough of the story, or Malin's voice. For me, Malin was a protagonist who I could really relate to, and I loved her narrative of the story. She reminded me a lot of Scout Finch and I thought in general her narration was dealt with so well - her innocence and naivety shone through, but the reader was allowed to see what bits Malin wasn't quite understanding. Overall Malin was a gorgeous, gorgeous character and her narration was what gripped me right from the beginning of the book.

This novel explores with some serious issues such as alcoholism, teenage pregnancy, mental health and difficult family relationships. However, all of these were really well dealt with and I think they are portrayed very realistically. This book definitely has the potential to support and comfort a young person who might be going through these things. I think this book has some good things to say about positive relationships with people, which is especially made more prominent by the fact that Malin (from author interviews and other blurbs of the book) has undiagnosed ASD (autism spectrum disorder) and therefore the reader gets a different and very fresh insight into friendships and other positive relationships. In particular, I loved Malin's relationship with her newfound friend Hanna. 

Altogether, I absolutely loved this book, from the beautiful writing to the realistic and carefully crafted characters, to the serious issues that are dealt with in a fantastic way. These are pretty much what makes a YA novel really special for me, so this book was pretty much perfect for me!

Stay tuned for loads more book reviews coming soon <3

Check out Linni Ingemundsen here:

Until next time :)

Wednesday 28 March 2018

AUTHOR INTERVIEW | 5 Minutes With Lindsay Littleson, author of 'The Awkward Autumn of Lily McLean'

Hey guys, and happy Wednesday! Today I am very excited to be sharing a Q&A with you - with the awesome author of The Awkward Autumn of Lily McLean - Lindsay Littleson! 

The Awkward Autumn of Lily McLean follows secret psychic Lily as she starts her time at high school - a time hard enough, without having to keep your psychic abilities under wrap. There's friendship drama, problems at home with her big sister, and someone sinister who won't stop leaving notes in her locker. It's a bit much for one girl to deal with, but Lily is not any normal girl. And the one thing that makes her stand out from the crowd might be the one thing that can save her...

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

Lily's hoping to put all the madness of the previous summer behind her. Telling people you hear voices doesn't win you many friends. Especially when you're starting high school. Especially when everyone thinks you're just like your troublemaking big sister. At least Lily's best mates Rowan, David and Aisha will stand up for her. But when she finds nasty messages in her locker, Lily knows someone's out to steal her friends and leave her all alone. Lily hopes a fun trip to the Isle of Arran will bring her friends together, but soon those dramas seem like the least of her problems. Back home, her big sister's in big trouble: She might end up in jail -- or worse. The last thing Lily wants is to start up that weird psychic stuff again, but it might be her only hope...

Spend the autumn with Lily in this beautifully written, laugh-out-loud sequel to Waterstones Children's Book Prize longlister The Mixed-Up Summer of Lily McLean by Kelpies Prize winner Lindsay Littleson.

And today I am delighted to be hosting Lindsay Littleson on my blog, where she will be talking all things siblings, the undeniable power of reading, and her advice to budding writers!

Hi Lindsay, and thanks for appearing on Delightful Book Reviews! What inspired you to write The Awkward Autumn of Lily McLean?

My first novel The Mixed Up Summer of Lily McLean won the 2014 Kelpies Prize and when Floris Books said that they’d be interested in a sequel I was thrilled, as I loved Lily and was keen to move her on to the next stage in her life and to give her another chance to use her psychic powers! In The Mixed Up Summer the events take place during Lily’s last week of primary school and in The Awkward Autumn she starts high school and life gets seriously complicated. The theme of transition was important to me, as every year I attend our school’s Primary 7 Leavers’ Dance and it always reminds me of my own final weeks at primary school and all my worries about moving on to high school. 

Tell us a bit more about Lily. Do you see aspects of yourself in her character, in any way?

Lily is a reader of books and a writer of lists, so we have that in common. She’s also one of five children and I have four siblings too, although Lily has taken on a lot more responsibility for caring for her siblings than I ever did. It never crossed my mind as a self-absorbed twelve year old to read my younger sisters a story or to help them get dressed in the mornings! 

The one aspect where we differ completely is that Lily has psychic powers and I definitely don’t, despite many years of practice. 

What’s so special about children’s fiction?

It’s hard to beat the magic of reading something fantastical like The Wolves of Willoughby Chase or The Hobbit for the very first time, preferably under the covers by torchlight.
For me, reading fiction as a child gave me enormous benefits. Reading enabled me to escape from the dull routines of school and homework into exciting fantasy worlds. It also enriched my vocabulary, increased empathy and expanded my imagination, all crucial in a future career as a writer!

What were your favourite books when you were a kid? 

I read everything that Enid Blyton wrote, apart from the Noddy books, and my favourite was The Secret Island. The idea of living for a whole year on a tiny island without adult supervision seemed very appealing. It’s probably no coincidence that both the Lily novels are set on small islands. I also adored The Family From One End Street by Eve Garnett as I could really relate to bookish Kate Ruggles and her struggle to find peace and quiet from her large family. Another favourite was Anne of Green Gables, which gets a name check in The Mixed Up Summer. Anne is such a relatable character, because the author allows her to make mistakes. Other books I loved were The Silver Sword, Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, Watership Down and I Am David, all of which I enjoyed reading again to my own children.

What was your writing process like for The Awkward Autumn of Lily McLean?

I work full time as a teacher, so I try and schedule in writing time every evening, though it’s not always possible and I don’t beat myself up when I don’t manage. When I get an idea for a story I usually jot down my initial thoughts in a notebook with little doodles of the characters, but because The Awkward Autumn is a sequel I already knew the main characters and setting really well, and it was lovely to return to them! When plotting The Awkward Autumn, I used post-it notes to plan chapter outlines, figuring out where the red herrings and plot twist reveal should go.

What advice would you give to young, aspiring writers?

Read lots of books. Get the words in your head so they can come out in your writing. And don’t be one of the many people who’ve said that they’ve always wanted to write a book, but they’ve never got round to it. As Stephen King said, “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration. The rest of us just get up and go to work.”

If writing is something you really want to do in life, then get started right now, and keep pursuing your dream.  

I wish I’d l had more resilience as a young writer. When I failed to get published after a couple of attempts, I gave up, and didn’t start writing again for 30 years...that’s one long sulk!

Life experience has taught me the difference between tragedy and disappointment. If a story is rejected or doesn’t win a competition, I wallow in self-pity for an hour, eat lots of chocolate and then get over myself and move on.

Thanks so much Lindsay for appearing on my blog! 

Buy The Awkward Autumn of Lily McLean here:

Check out Lindsay Littleson here:

Until next time :) 

Friday 23 March 2018

YASHOT 2018 BLOG TOUR | Guest Post | 'Making Connections' by Rachel Ward

Hey guys, and happy Friday! Today I am very excited to be sharing my spot for the YA Shot 2018 blog tour! I have taken part in YA Shot for the past couple of years now, and every single year it is a blast - I am thrilled to be taking part again <3

This year I have the wonderful author Rachel Ward on my blog. Rachel is the author of five YA thrillers and an adult crime novel, which is on the cosier end of the crime scale. Numbers, her first YA book, was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize and sold to 26 countries. Rachel lives in Bath, with her family including a rather silly dog and one chicken. As well as writing, she paints and takes photographs. 

Today I am delighted to have Rachel on my blog, with a piece called 'Making Connections' - all about creativity, and creating art for each other and also ourselves, and how sometimes what you have created can have a great impact upon someone's life...

Check out Rachel's post below...

Creativity can be a solitary pursuit. Writing and painting are mostly done on your own, at home, not in a picturesque garret or light-filled studio but, more likely, a corner of the sitting room or a spare bedroom. Sometimes it can feel like a selfish thing, looking inwards and expressing yourself on screen, paper or canvas. Occasionally, I give myself a long, hard look and ask, ‘Should you be doing something more useful?’ Yet, the past few months have reminded me that creativity also forges connections, often unforeseen, sometimes surprising and many unknown to the originator.

I’ve been visiting my parents fairly regularly recently as they deal with the effects of illness and old age. My dad’s an engineer and I’ve never thought of him as particularly interested in arts or culture, and yet one day we had a wonderful chat about the Rodin museum in Paris, which we had both visited at different times. His face lit up as he described a small sculpture of a pair of hands holding a box, which had delighted him many years ago (sixty?). The image of it, the experience of seeing it in real life, had stayed with him and continued to delight him.

Meanwhile, my mum, who is very interested in arts and culture, is rereading the books she loved as a child and young woman, losing herself in familiar stories like ‘Heidi’. ‘I can’t read anything new at the moment,’ she says, and I can understand that need for the familiar, to remember what it was like to read those books for the first time and to remember who you used to be. It has reminded me how powerfully comforting books can be.

A couple of times this year, people have emailed or tweeted to tell me how much my books have meant to them. This is music to a writer’s ear, of course, and, in fact, very touching. My correspondents have written about how my first YA novel, Numbers, moved them and made them think about some of the big issues in life – mortality, love and so on – and how the book has stayed with them over the years. It’s times like this that help to dissolve my doubts, or at least chase them away for a while. I may have written my books in splendid isolation, but they continue to make their way in the world, finding new readers and living in the memories of earlier ones.

Yes, being creative can be selfish or self-indulgent. In order to write or paint, you have to carve out time for yourself. But it is also a way of sharing something - sometimes something very personal – and in doing so, you are also creating the potential for connection with other people, known to you or unknown, now or maybe many years in the future. We can’t necessarily predict or know the effect of our work on others, but, if we keep trying, working honestly, and with joy, there’s something quite marvellous about that, isn’t there?

Thank you so much, Rachel, for writing this brilliant and also inspiring post!

Make sure you guys check out the rest of the spots on the YA Shot blog tour, trust me you won't want to miss a single post...

Buy Numbers here:

Buy The Cost of Living here:

Check out Rachel here:

Check out YA Shot 2018 here:

Until next time :)

Thursday 15 March 2018

DELIGHTFUL KIDS BOOKS | BLOG TOUR | 'Mr Shaha's Recipes for Wonder' by Alom Shaha | 5* BOOK REVIEW

Hey guys, and happy Thursday! Today I am very excited to be back with my children's book feature, which is one of my favourite things to cover on my blog. There are just so many stinkin' good kids books out there at the moment!

Today I am absolutely delighted to be reviewing Mr Shaha's Recipes for Wonder by Alom Shaha, and illustrated by Emily Robertson. As soon as I saw the press release for this book I knew it was something I would love. Anything that gets kids playing and having fun is never a bad thing in my book. Mr Shaha's Recipes for Wonder has potential to get the whole family learning while having fun, and doing something a little different rather than playing the same old board game or watching Netflix.

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

Why does the …? What is …? How does …?

Don’t worry if you don’t know the answers, you soon will!

Every child can be a scientist with the help of Mr Shaha and his recipes for wonder!

Turn a rainy day at home or a walk in the park into a chance to experiment. All you need are a few simple items from your kitchen cupboards ― and the power of curiosity!

Learn about sound by making wine glasses sing, investigate chemical reactions with vitamin-powered rockets, and explore Newton’s Third Law by making balloon-driven cars.

Written by a science teacher and dad, Mr Shaha’s Recipes for Wonder gives clear, step-by-step instructions for over 15 experiments. Whether you’re a science star or just starting out, it will help you inspire young people to learn.

Get the whole family joining in around the table, as you transform your kitchen into a laboratory!

There are just so many things to love about this book. I was instantly attracted by the gorgeous illustrations by Emily Robertson - they are beautiful and will easily captivate kids to get stuck into the experiments. The illustrations are also great in actually showing the step by step method of each experiment. The book itself is also written in such an engaging and companionable way, and nothing about it appears difficult or complicated, or 'not for kids.' That being said, the book also succeeds in being the least patronising it could possibly be, and focuses on engaging kids to explore science rather than lecturing them with facts and long complicated words that they won't understand, or won't interest them.

There is such a huge range of experiments that are great for the whole family - from fizz rockets to singing wine glasses (a personal favourite of mine!) to electric motors - there are experiments here that even the youngest children can take part in. Some of the experiments kids will be able to do with their friends - that's the beauty of this book; it encourages kids to be independent and find joy in the world around them, rather than always asking a parent for help. 

All together I think that this is a brilliantly refreshing book that I wish I had when I was a kid and completely confused about all things science! Shaha presents all the information in a really fun and palatable way, and the vast array of experiments will definitely keep your kids occupied in the ever-looming Easter and summer holidays!

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

Check out Alom Shaha here:

Until next time :)

Tuesday 13 March 2018

BLOG TOUR | 'Bear Child' by Geoff Mead and Sanne Dufft | THE BEAR ESSENTIALS

Hey guys, and happy Tuesday! Today I am thrilled to be taking part in a blog tour to celebrate the beautiful new publication from Floris Books, Bear Child. Bear Child is a gorgeously illustrated and beautifully lyrical new picture book for children, and I know that you and your children will love it as much as I do. The story is so beautiful, and is a perfect fairy-tale-like book that is the perfect bedtime story.

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

'Now that people live in towns and bears live in the woods, have you ever wondered what happened to the bear folk?' 

At bedtime Ursula asks Daddy to tell her the tale of the bear folk: special beings who can choose to be either a bear or a person, depending if they want to catch a fish or read a book. 

Bear folk live extraordinary lives, he tells her. They are strong and clever, kind and loving, adventurous and creative -- just like her. 

Will I ever meet one? Ursula asks. Perhaps she already has... 

Bear Child is an inspirational story of parental love, belief and embracing individuality. This beautiful picture book weaves together Geoff Mead's charming words with Sanne Dufft's ethereal illustrations to create a truly timeless folktale.

And without further ado, here is Geoff Mead on the blog to talk all things bears and their prominent (and important) position in books...

Fictional bears are hugely popular, especially in children’s literature. Like the creators of Paddington, Rupert, Winnie the Pooh, Baloo, and Iorek Byrnison, I drew my inspiration from a profound human connection with bears that seems almost to be part of our DNA.

Our earliest ancestors lived close to nature, competing for habitation and food with their omnivorous ursine neighbours. In 1917 a prehistoric man-made limestone ‘box’ was found deep underground in Switzerland, containing three cave bear skulls carefully stacked and aligned, suggesting some kind of ritual or rite. There are no surviving stories from those times but bears sometimes feature in cave paintings. They have always shared our world and lived in our imaginations. 

I originally wrote Bear Child as a gift for my late wife Chris, who had a lifelong fascination with bears. It’s the story of Ursula, a young girl who thinks she might be a descendant of the bear folk: shape-shifters born from the ancient marriage of bears and humans. 

Myths and legends about bears abound in every culture that has co-existed with them: from the Inuit in the North to the Ainu in Japan; from West Coast Native Americans to the peoples who once lived in the great pan-European forest. In the animistic world view of hunter-gatherers in which all living things are imbued with spirit, bears are respected as powerful, intelligent, curious creatures with almost human qualities. 

Bears retreat to hibernate as winter comes and reappear in the spring and were thus thought by many to control the changing seasons. As omnivores, they showed humans what was good to eat and where to find it, as well as what plants had medicinal qualities. If hunted, their remains were treated reverently. Shamans wore their masks and pelts; claws and teeth were made into sacred amulets; bones were laid out with care and buried with great ceremony. 

Chris and I once travelled to Minnesota to spend time with wild black bears in the woods, under the expert guidance of Dr Lyn Rogers. We saw for ourselves that these fellow-mammals are nurturing and protective of their young. On all fours, they behave much like enormous dogs but when walking on their hind legs they are surprisingly human-like, so it was easy to understand why they are sometimes called King of the Mountain or Master of the Forest, or – my particular favourite – Old Man in a Fur Coat. 

Bear Child draws on a Siberian Ostyak myth about how bears first came to earth, let down on threads made of sunrays and moonbeams by Numitorum, the Great Bear of the northern sky, and on a Native American Haida story about how bears and humans became intermingled.   

Our mythic association with bears still shows up in the English language despite the fact that native British bears became extinct 1,000 years ago: we bear heavy burdens, we bear down (and up), we bear in mind, we even bear children! Maybe the story of Bear Child gives a hint to why we’re still so fascinated by our ursine friends. 

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

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

Follow the rest of the #BearChild blog tour with Floris Books on Twitter and Instagram.

Check out Geoff Mead here:

Check out Sanne Dufft here:

Until next time :)