It’s Monday, what are YOU reading?

Just finished…..

I’ve had a few days to myself recently and decided to hit my YA TBR pile. I knew I’d put aside some real gems and I wanted to give them the time they deserved and I am so glad I didn’t rush any of them. I’d signed our school library up for BookTrust’s School Library Pack and these are three from that box. I am currently using them with our Year 7s & 8s for our new book club, Battle of the Books, which I mentioned in my last post. My reviews are on the right but if you want to read what other people think, click  here for Booked and here for  Running on the Roof of the World and here for The Bone Sparrow

Currently reading…


After reading three Realistic Fiction novels I decided I needed a break from reality. The Bone Sparrow in particular reminded me of how we humans are capable of great inhumanity to each other and my heart lurched between immense anger and gut-wrenching pain. I needed a break. I know I am lucky to be able to take one, many around the world do not have that luxury.

Fantasy also has its fair share of trauma but it is fabulous escapism when life gets too much or you just want to go on an adventure. Looking over our library shelves I spotted a series that was in my previous library but I’d never got around to reading so I thought now’s the time. We have plenty of students who love reading Fantasy and who have read the usual suspects, Harry Potter etc. I thought I’d read The Wind on Fire trilogy by William Nicholson in the hope that I can connect some students with it. I noticed that he also lives in Sussex….wonder if he does author visits…?



Reading next…





Book club

I’m really excited to be starting a new book club in my library for our students in years 7 & 8. I want something for our keen readers, something to challenge them and where reading is a group activity. Many young readers find themselves short of friends as they make the transition from primary to secondary school. It can be hard if you are quiet, someone who sits in a corner and reads by themselves, but these students need friends too, what better way to find like-minded people than by joining a book club.

At my last school, we took part in Battle of the Books. Based on the American format, some of the English speaking schools in Hong Kong did their own variation, HK BoB, and it was incredibly successful both at primary and secondary level. It seemed the perfect solution to my quest for group reading.


  • I emailed the US Battle of the Books team and got permission to use their name, no copyright infringement there (good librarian that I am).
  • I got the School Library Pack of books from BookTrust that we had received last school year.
  • I spoke to some students I knew were keen readers.
  • I put up posters around school and in the library.
  • I emailed all the year 7 tutors to ask them to promote it at tutor time.
  • I sat, I waited, 2 students turned up. All three of us were disappointed so we went to Plan B. We brainstormed and came up with names of students we thought might like the club.
  • I sent out personal invitations and the following week 4 more students showed up. We talked about the books and they each took one home and were really keen. What else could I do?

Serendipity struck!

Our school ran its first ‘Freshers’ Fair for Year 7s’ to promote clubs and societies. My amazing year 11 School Librarians went along with flyers and a sign up sheet and today we had an additional 7 students join our original 6. and an additional 5 students came to see me to explain they had an assembly that was compulsory but could they come next week!

After school, the buzz had got round and another 2 students wanted to join.

My Maths makes that 20 students so far……

Timing is everything it seems.

Next week is the ‘Freshers’ Fair for Year 8s’….watch this space!






Its Monday, what are you reading?


Just finished…

The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Rauf


I loved this book and my review is over on the right hand side of this blog. I was lucky enough to be given this book by a friend of the author. Now this friend has rubbed shoulders with some very influential people so when she said that she holds Rauf in high esteem, that really means something. Rauf is a one woman phenomenon although I suspect she would run a mile from that tag. Take a look at her website Making Herstory and you’ll see what I mean. Where she found the time to write this gem I just don’t know but please read it. It’s important.


Currently reading…

Booked by Kwame Alexander



I’m only a few pages in to this novel in verse and so far, so good.

Reading next…

These books were both in the free book box donated by BookTrust and I will be using them in the new book club I’m starting in our school library later this week.

Happy reading everyone!


Feel free to share what you are reading or to make recommendations for other Young Adult novels.


Roald Dahl Day

People all over the world are celebrating Roald Dahl Day in honour of one of the most famous children’s book authors in the world.


  • He’s sold over 250 million books worldwide and had many of them made into films, plays and musicals.
  • He was born in Llandaff, Cardiff, to Norwegian immigrant parents on 13 September 1916 and lived until he was 74.
  • He was named after the famous Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen (who famously beat Captain Robert Scott of the UK to the North Pole). When he was growing up, his first language was Norwegian.
  • He went to boarding school but hated it, he was homesick and was appalled at the violence and beating that went on from both the teachers and the other boys. These experiences are often credited with understanding why his stories have a dark side to them.
  • Roald Dahl served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War becoming a flying ace and an intelligence officer. He wrote about these experiences in his autobiography ‘Going Solo’.

If you were to ask people what their favourite Roald Dahl book is, I suspect most would answer with ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ but my favourite is Matilda mostly because it features books and a library and as I am a librarian that makes me a bit biased!

This is my favourite Roald Dahl quote:

“I have a passion for teaching kids to become readers, to become comfortable with a book, not daunted; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage”

In the school library today we gave out Roald Dahl bookmarks, collected entries for the Roald Dahl competition and shared some Willy Wonka style sweets; there was a great buzz around the library throughout the day and plenty of his books were checked out.

Happy Roald Dahl Day!



It’s Monday, what are you reading?

Just finished…

Strings attached by Judy Blundell


This book surprised me. I read it because there are always students in school that are asking for romantic read recommendations. It’s not my genre of choice but I try and read some to offer suggestions. The cover says many things, there is sadness in the woman’s eyes, resignation in the way she is holding herself and a vulnerability that worries me. Being set in the 1950s made me curious too. The decade is often overshadowed by its more flamboyant successor, the roaring sixties, so I was intrigued to discover what the fifties would contribute to the plot. You can read my review over to the right so I won’t repeat the story, suffice to say it has much to say about women, manipulation by men, poverty, dreams and aspirations, love and sacrifice. Yet somehow it’s not angst-filled or depressing. I’m really glad I read it and even though I only returned it today, one of the student librarians checked it out already, that is a success in my book.

Currently Reading…

The boy at the back of the class by Onjali Q Rauf


Oops! I think I was Currently Reading this on my last IMWAYR blog, I’ve not got much further. Fingers crossed it will have moved up to Just Finished by next week!

Reading next

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander


I am really excited to read this soon, the reviews have been consistently 4-5 star from all over the world and I think it will appeal to a number of my students. It’s another novel in verse, a genre I never thought I’d enjoy as much as I do.




It’s Monday, what are you reading?

Just finished…


Super fantasy novel, perfect for readers wanting a more complex story, who want to find their way through a labyrinth of underground tunnels with a touch of vicious cheeses and memory-wiping wines. I am so happy to be able to recommend this book to young teenagers who aren’t ready for dystopian novels but who are ready for coming of age books, perfect middle-grade reading.

Currently reading…

The Boy at the Back of the Class


“Author Onjali Q. Raúf is the founder and CEO of Making Herstory, an organisation which works to end the abuse and trafficking of women and girls. She brings her passion for social responsibility to this story which demonstrates the power of small actions to initiate larger change.”  Readings, 25.6.18.

Reading next …

Strings Attached by Judy Blundell


It’s been a while since I’ve read some realistic fiction and I’m looking forward to this one.

So tell me, what are YOU reading?


I am lucky enough to have excellent friends living in the Peak District and I try and visit them as often as possible. They live very close to one book shop and on my last visit, introduced me to another so I thought I’d share them with you in case your travels take up to Derbyshire.


Scarthin Books in Cromford  is new to me. Located up a tiny, narrow one-way street in the village where the Industrial Revolution began, the bookshop is Tardis-like, bigger on the inside.

They had a lovely children’s section packed with their choice of excellent children’s books ranging from picture books and non-fiction to children’s and young adult fiction. It was a delight to see a much wider range than is on offer in the high street book stores and airport shops.


They have a cafe tucked away behind this curved, moving wall/door. Actually, the food was poor but we had a nice cuppa.


I’m always happy when I see an honesty box or sign especially when it’s small, you know people will just honour it.


I didn’t buy anything….this time!

A trip to Buxton isn’t complete without a visit to the High Peak Bookstore & Cafe. Their website says it all but let me tell you I NEVER leave here empty-handed.

On this visit, I got the next three books in the Department 19 series by Will Hill which one of my students asked for just before term ended so he will be thrilled.


There is a dedicated children’s room and YA shelves are just outside which I am sure teenagers appreciate.


The rest of the shop is layed out with typical shelves interspersed with comfy chairs and simple displays. I am sure the railway enthusiasts appreciate the train overhead.


Finaly, their cafe is AMAZING! The food, hot and cold is super and the cakes are scrumptious. Their staff are so friendly but I wish I had taken a photo of the brilliant sign saying “unsupervised children will be given a free coffee and a puppy” which is such a gentle way of telling people this isn’t a creche. Dogs are welcome too. I can’t speak highly enough of the place (no vested interest, honestly).


So there you have it, if in doubt go to the library or the bookshop.