Throwback Top Ten Tuesday | Childhood Favourites

I wasn’t daft on this week’s TTT prompt, so I decided to go right back to the start and relive some past topics when the current prompt didn’t inspire me!

Here are some of my favourite books as a child/very early teenager.

The “Wild at Heart” series – Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson is, famously, my favourite YA author and one of my favourite authors full stop. My aunt used to send these over from the US because I loved animals, and I devoured them. It wasn’t until years later – once I’d read LHA’s YA books – that I realised she wrote some of my childhood favourites. A lovely little realisation.

The Princess Diaries series – Meg Cabot

Easily one of my favourite book series of all time. Like I don’t even have anything else on top of that, they’re funny and even now like meeting up again with old friends.

Pig-Heart Boy – Malorie Blackman

Everyone knows Malorie Blackman for Noughts and Crosses, but the story of Cameron, who’s about to receive a heart transplant from a pig, was the well-thumbed book of hers that I read when I was younger. Definitely worth picking up if you haven’t read it yet!

Children Just Like Me – Barnabas and Anabel Kindersley

I have no idea how dated this book is by now but honestly I think everyone should be given a copy of this as a child. It’s basically a guidebook of different cultures presented by children between the ages of five and eleven (if I remember correctly). I absolutely adored reading it – the photography is brilliant and it’s great for showing kids what it’s like to grow up around the world.

The “Mates, Dates” series – Cathy Hopkins

Even though they touch on serious subjects (racism, teenage pregnancy, family illness are the few that I remember), these are just the most positive, warm and funny YA books I think I’ve ever come across. They’re on my list of old favourites to rebuy.

For a slightly more sobering point, I was desperately, desperately lonely as a teenager and craved the kind of fun and supportive friendships I read about in YA books. These filled a really bad void in my life.

The “Girls” series – Jacqueline Wilson

I remember reading these and being completely blown away that they were Jacqueline Wilson books – for late primary school/early high school me they were dark, dangerous and edgy compared to what I was used to from JW. They were my introduction to high school pressures and teenage experiences.

Almost Home – Nora Raleigh Baskin

Another gift from my aunt, this is a sweet MG novel about finding your place in a family and the wider world.

The “Animal Ark” series – Lucy Daniels

I ADORED these books. It was another series that tied together my love of animals and reading and they were so easy to read and moreish and emotional. I’m pretty sure I had the entire series and I read them again and again and again.

The Famous Five – Enid Blyton

Enid Blyton is one of those authors that I tend to cringe a little when I go to wax nostalgic about, because there are various examples of racism, xenophobia and classism in her work, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t include The Famous Five in a list of my favourite childhood books. I read them from cover to cover when I was in primary school, and actively wanted to be George.

(I’d like to thank my mum for, whether intentionally or not, keeping the particularly grim Blyton stories away from me.)

The “Nancy Drew Case Files” series – Carolyn Keene

I managed to unlock a memory from some deep recess of my brain while compiling this list. My mum produced a selection of these from the local library one week when I was ill (I think she thought they were the original Nancy Drew books, rather than Teenage Nancy Has A Boyfriend And Solves Mysteries). Literally had not thought about these for about twenty years and now I am DESPERATE to read them again.


I’m putting most of these on my TBR now, partly so I can have them for my daughter when she gets older and partly because I want to read them again. Dying to revisit my bookish youth…

Six For Sunday | Autumnal Colours

I LOVE AUTUMN. Not only does it mean it’s my birthday, but there’s something really magical and delicious about the days getting shorter and the sun generally getting lower and bringing out the jumpers and hot water bottles. Here are six of the books that make me feel like it’s just around the corner.

Ink – Alice Broadway

Shiny bronze cover with leaves and birds? I can almost taste the November wind in Princes Street Gardens just looking at the cover of Ink.

I Was Born For This – Alice Oseman

I love Alice Oseman’s books and orange screams “autumn” to me. Leaves and Halloween!

The Crow – Alison Croggon

Again, I will never pass up an opportunity to stick a Pellinor book into the conversation.

Refuge – Dina Nayeri

I picked Refuge from my TBR list on Goodreads because at first glance I thought these were golden apples. They’re cherries, but I’m still getting a definite autumn vibe.

Nice Try, Jane Sinner – Lianne Oelke

Nice Try, Jane Sinner is one of the multitude of TBR books I’ve been meaning to pick up for years. Even her clothes on the cover seem autumnal to me!

Bonfire – Krysten Ritter

I don’t know if it’s because I burn a lot of candles as the evenings get earlier or because it reminds me of the fire pit in my parents’ garden, but the smell of wood smoke makes me think of autumn and winter. Bonfire looks like the kind of book I’d pick up on a rainy October afternoon with a coffee.


I can’t wait to see the other autumn books in this Six for Sunday. I’m so ready for summer to be over this year, so anything that gets me in the mood early is a bonus!

Six For Sunday | Summer Colours

Thoroughly tired of summer after heatwave after heatwave and attempting to keep a very small baby happy. I can’t wait to start wearing my 4756435 jumpers again, but in the meantime here’s some summery-looking books.

The Square Root of Summer – Harriet Reuter Hapgood

This was such an obvious pick it almost seems too easy. Perfect summer holiday reading.

The Sun Is Also A Star – Nicola Yoon

A book that’s on my “I haven’t read this for ages and I’ve forgotten what happens but I know I enjoyed it so I’m going to read it again” list. Top tier colours, too!

The Virgin Suicides – Jeffrey Euginedes

I picked his because the cover looks summery but honestly I fucking hated this book. I’m sure it’s really poignant and clever and there’s probably a whole load of metaphor but I found it desperately pretentious.

The Fault In Our Stars – John Green

John Green’s writing doesn’t really vibe with me – his dialogue always feels a bit “off” – but he’s resonated with so many young people and given then hope and joy and I have a huge amount of respect for him.

Boy Meets Girl – Meg Cabot

Romance isn’t a genre I go into very often – most of the time if I pick up a romance book it’s on a whim, or there’s nothing else available. I found this one in a charity shop and bought it because I loved the Princess Diaries books, but I ended up really enjoying it. I’ve reread it loads.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post – Emily M. Danforth

TMOCP has been on my TBR for so long it feels like a personal attack whenever I come across someone talking about it. Also the cover is stunning.


Top Ten Tuesday | Books I Loved But Never Reviewed

The plus side of being an absentee book blogger means that I have a list. The downside of being an absentee reader means there’s only nine I read recently that are on it. Here’s my top nine:

Mary’s The Name – Ross Sayers

I loved Mary’s the Name. Told from the perspective of eight year old Mary Sutherland, it’s sweet, funny and emotional all in one go. Ross Sayers has done an absolute belter of a job with the writing – the dramatic irony created by an eight year old narrator is brilliant, and the voice never falters.

Fault Lines – Douglas Johnstone

A thriller set in what’s basically AU contemporary Edinburgh, Fault Lines‘ protagonist is a volcanologist who discovers the body of her married lover who also happens to be her boss. Then the text messages start…

Bone Deep – Sandra Ireland

Sandra is a Creative Writing MLitt cohort of mine. I loved her first thriller Beneath the Skin, and Bone Deep didn’t disappoint either – I had to scrape my jaw off the floor at the end.

Editing Emma – Chloe Seagar

It’s rare that a book actually sends me into fits of giggles (I can appreciate when something is funny when I’m reading, but rarely do I actively laugh) but Editing Emma managed it. I’m well overdue a reread.

Hings – Chris McQueer

“Limmy meets Irvine Welsh” is just about right. Surreal and full of black Scottish humour, it’s almost like The Fast Show on acid and set in Glasgow. Love it.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard

I will wax lyrical about Sara Barnard’s books every chance I get. She does contemporary YA so well, with relatable characters that I recognise from my school days, never mind now. As someone who struggled with anxiety and talking to people when I was in school, AQKOT broke my heart.

Blackbird – ND Gomes

Contemporary YA mystery Blackbird first came to my attention when someone pointed it out it was set in Orkney, and we all know I love a Scottish book. I felt a little let down by the ending, but I enjoyed the journey!

102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers

This is, unsurprisingly, incredibly heavy and emotional reading. I knew the outcome – as everyone will – but . Harrowing, but definitely worth it.

Radio Silence – Alice Oseman

Radio Silence is top tier YA. It’s the book I wish I’d had when I was a teenager. I don’t even want to say any more in case anyone hasn’t read it yet. You absolutely should.

(Fun fact: this is the book that got me back into being bookish, and it’s because I suddenly though that “Radio Silence” would be a great book title so I googled it and found UKYA Twitter. I’m glad I did.)

Six For Sunday | Spring Colours!

This was a difficult one because it tuns out a lot of the books I own are either black or incredibly brightly coloured. I suppose marketing is a thing. Here are the most spring-y ones I picked out from my bookshelf and my TBR:

Almost Home – Nora Raleigh Baskin

This MG novel is a really sweet and moving story – a twelve year old girl struggling to find her place after her mother leaves with her younger sister and her dad remarries. It’s emotional and compelling and one of my favourites from when I was younger.

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

I bought Fangirl without knowing a thing about it. As someone who spent miserable teenage years seeking solace in fandom and fanfiction, Cath’s experience was incredibly relatable.

Speak – Laurie Halse Anderson

Remember last week I said Laurie Halse Anderson was my favourite YA author? This is The Book, the seminal one. It’s been banned in a number of schools, which as we all know is the sign of a YA book with the power to change.

LHA has since released a free verse follow up, Shout, which combines her own experiences with “reflections, rants and calls to action”. Based on how powerful I found Speak, I can’t wait to read it.

If Only They Could Talk – James Herriot

I LOVE the James Herriot books. I was given them a lot when I was younger because I wanted to be a vet more than anything else in the world, an ambition that faded away when I realised I was dreadful at maths and science. They’re joyous and evocative – must-read for anyone who likes animals, Yorkshire, or harmless reading.

Goodbye, Perfect – Sara Barnard

A TBR entry that I completely forgot about recently, this has rocketed to the top of my shopping list. Sara Barnard does some of my favourite contemporary YA, and I’ve found a character that mirrors aspects of my teenage life in every book of hers I’ve read so far.

Tithe – Holly Black

In recent years I remember The Cruel Prince being a big name in YA fantasy, but the trio of Tithe, Valiant and Ironside were my introduction to Holly Black. Valiant I think is my favourite, but the romance that runs through Tithe and Ironside is brilliant, as are the unflinchingly badass female characters in all three. Highly recommend.


Compiling this has made me realise that the only season I’m not fond of at the moment is summer. Bring on spring, with its baby animals and misty mornings and occasional Scottish storm!

Books I Can’t Wait To Read To My Daughter

I mentioned in a previous blog post that I have a baby daughter. If you follow me on literally any social media, you may have picked this up already. I am obsessed with her.

We’re big on books in my family, and as a result Edith’s already got more books than I have room for. I ordered one of those cool display things that looks like a library book rack to put up on the wall, but I’m not convinced it’s going to be enough.

I’m not too clued-up on kids books – particularly for really young kids – so I’m drawing a lot on my own memories, as well as some I’ve seen on social media in passing. This is in no way an exhaustive list, and by the time you’re reading it I’ll inevitably have found more…

The Gruffalo – Julia Donaldson

My mum used to work in a nursery before she retired and she is a huge Julia Donaldson fangirl – she’s already started buying them so Edith can have the full collection. I didn’t know there were so many! I have at least two copies of the Gruffalo that my friends with older kids have given me and we inevitably end up watching it every Christmas morning (even though my sister and I are in our mid to late 20s) so it’s going to be one of Edith’s first stories.

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls – Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

I am, and have been for some time, an Angry Woman. Before Edith was born my husband joked that every time she she was battering my organs she was practising fighting TERFs, reply-guys on the internet and other assorted wrong’uns.

Okay so some of these have aged terribly (JK Rowling, anyone?) and there are some stories I would have liked to see included (Marsha P. Johnson, for example) but on the whole they’re full of incredible stories and role models. Some of them I know shamefully little about, so it’ll be a learning experience for me too.

Both were a gift from one of my best friends just after Edith was born, and she’s kickass and strong and always beside me whenever I need her. We’re rebel girls, and I know with her help Edith will be as well.

Look Up! – Nathan Bryon

Look Up! appeared on my radar when it was awarded the Waterstones Children’s Book of the Year. I was BIG into space when I was younger and I still think it’s incredibly cool, plus I’m all for seeing girls being represented in STEM hobbies and ambitions. Definitely one I’ll be picking up on my next trip out.

Old Bear Stories – Jane Hissey

These books are basically perfect – nice, cosy, wholesome, with adorable characters. There will be books to teach my kid she can do anything, books to teach her about the world and about compassion and humility, but these are the books I’m going to read her when she needs to close the door and be safe for a while.

Plus if you follow Jane Hissey on Twitter she posts adorable illustrations of characters from the series and cute animals.

The Tiger Who Came To Tea – Judith Kerr

A classic from my childhood, and one that was beloved by the kids my mum had in the nursery. It’s just fun, it’s the right level of absurd (a tIger coming to tea and eating ALL THE FOOD IN THE HOUSE) and features the most absurdly exciting thing I could possibly have imagined as a young child: a late -night trip to a cafe for tea.

If you’ve written a children’s book in 1968 and it’s still being read to kids in 2020, I think the general consensus is that you’ve absolutely nailed it.

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy – Lynley Dodd

One of the criticisms I saw of this book on Goodreads was that it had “very little plot”. Honestly, who cares? It’s got funny dogs, rhymes – kids love rhymes – charming illustrations and a villain. It’s top tier.


Right now she’s too young to do much more than grab at the pages – we have a soft crinkly picture book that she LOVES – but when she’s able to sit up by herself (thus freeing up my hands for turning pages) I’m going to be reading to her whenever we have a quite few minutes.

What other books should I have on my shopping list? Let me know! I love books that focus on diversity and social issues, as well as rhymes and fun pictures.

Top Ten Tuesday | Ten Books With Colours In The Titles

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.


As it turns out, I don’t have a lot of books with colours in the titles, so I had to work really hard. Subsequently, some of these are from my TBR, some I read a while ago, some I cheated with. Slightly.

Manatee Blues – Laurie Halse Anderson

I’ve mentioned before that Laurie Halse Anderson is my favourite YA author, so it blew my mind a few years ago when I discovered that she’d also writtenn some of my favourite MG books. As an animal obsessed, wanted-to-be-a-vet kid, my auntie used to send me these over from the US and I read them over and over again.

The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon

I’ve been meaning to pick this up for a while now and have shamefully never gotten round to it. You had me at dragons, but LGBTQ characters? Yes please.

The Green Mile – Stephen King

The Green Mile is one of the only movies I’ve ever cried at. The book didn’t move me quite the same, but it’s still a decent read.

Out of the Blue – Sophie Cameron

This has been on my TBR for AGES. Aside from anything else it’s set in Edinburgh, and if there’s one thing that never fails to turn my head it’s a book set in Edinburgh.

The Black Book – Ian Rankin

It took me an embarrassing amount of time to get round to reading the Rebus series, and I really wish I’d picked it up sooner. Rebus is a miserable bastard of a character but you like him anyway, and his acerbic wit is a TREAT.

The Black Book is (I think) as far as I got up to last time, but I’m rereading my way through it again. The whole series is an absolute joy regardless of whether it’s the first time you’ve read it or not.

Also, see above comment RE: books set in Edinburgh.

Children of Blood and Bone – Tomi Adeyemi

“Bone” is a colour. I will not be taking questions at this time.

I remember Book Twitter being ALL ABOUT THIS BOOK when it was first released, and I never actually got round to picking up a copy, but I heard one of my favourite Magic: the Gathering podcasters talking about it recently and it’s reminded me that I really need to get hold of a copy sooner rather than later.

Amber Brown is Not a Crayon – Paula Danziger

One I enjoyed, and one for my daughter when she grows up! If my memory serves I found a copy of this in a house we stayed in on holiday once and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Yes I was the child who immediately found the bookcase in the places we stayed when we were on holiday.

A Darker Shade of Magic – VE Schwab

Okay it sounds like it’s talking about colours. That counts, right?

Good.

I love this book. I had nearly finished reading it when the roof of my front porch – where I’d stored a lot of books while we did the nursery up – started leaking and the book got totally waterlogged.

None of my husband’s books did. Just this one that I hadn’t finished.

The Amber Spyglass – Philip Pullman

An obvious classic. I was never a Philip Pullman kid growing up and it still doesn’t vibe with me a strongly as it does for other people for some reason – my mum, on the other hand, ADORES this series – but I still thoroughly enjoyed it.

Also the editions I have are very pretty.

Dragonfly in Amber – Diana Gabaldon

The Outlander books are, in my opinion, one of the few cases where the screen adaptation absolutely outshines the book.

At least for the first two seasons.

(I enjoyed the first book well enough, but it didn’t make me want to fall over myself picking up this one, whereas I binged all the episodes on Prime in about two days and BAWLED.)


Well, we got there. On my to-do list: read more fantasy. Those seem to be the books with the colourful names.

Six For Sunday: Winter Colours

I used to really hate winter. My SAD used to go through the roof from about September onward and I have distinct memories of standing in the pouring rain one December at a crossing in my university town, feeling absolutely the most miserable I have ever felt.

Now that I’m in a better place, I really love dark, cosy evenings and the sound of the rain battering against the window. I love when the sun never really gets above the horizon

And I love the colours. Autumn is good but winter is black and gold and blue and silver. Here’s some of the books I pulled out of my bookcase that scream ICE AND COLD AND LONG DARK NIGHTS to me.

A Shiver of Snow and Sky – Lisa Lueddecke

Not only does the title scream “it’s winter, read me in the early evening twilight while the rain batters off the windows”, the cover LITERALLY has snow on it.

Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

I love Six of Crows. It was one of the last books I read before I completely broke away from books and reading and it’s still one of my favourites.

The Impossible Knife of Memory – Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson is my favourite YA author – she tackles tough subjects in a really sensitive way without dumbing them down or patronising her audience. TIKOM tackles PTSD in veterans and having a parent struggling with their mental health.

Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi

I can’t remember exactly who I saw raving about Persepolis on Booktube, but I found a copy in my local comic store and, after the daughter of the owner confirmed it was an excellent read I bought it. Started reading while I was pregnant, got distracted by Animal Crossing. It’s next on my TBR though…

Faerie Tale – Raymond E. Feist

My husband, although not much of a reader now, used to be a huge fantasy nerd and loved Raymond Feist. I don’t get on hugely well with high fantasy, but he assured me that Faerie Tale was more my thing. It’s been sitting in our porch since we moved into this house in 2016, but I’ve just promoted it to The Bedside Table, so I’ll get to it eventually. Cracking icy-grey cover, too.

The Riddle – Alison Croggon

Did you really think I wasn’t going to fit a Pellinor book in somewhere?


I can’t wait to see other winter picks. Not only do I need to flesh out my TBR, but I’m all about aesthetics – and I’m REALLY in the mood for summer to be over this year!

Welcome Back Me…

Hello!

I used to blog about books, but I haven’t been active in any sort of book community for a long time. Part of the reason was that over the past year my mental and physical health frankly sucked and I didn’t do an awful lot of reading.

Part of the reason was that I accidentally ended up going viral when I wrote a blog post around sexism in the game Magic: the Gathering (which I’ve played for seven years now) and ended up accidentally being A Bit Of A Voice. I’ve been throwing a lot of my energy into trying to make things better for the community by supporting and standing up for women and the LGBTQ+ community.

Also I got pregnant, had a dreadful pregnancy and now I have a baby!

This is she!

Being stuck under a squishy human who won’t nap anywhere other than in my arms during the day seems like an ideal time to start reading in earnest again, especially as I seem to have a habit of leaving my phone and Switch with about 6% battery and ending up out of options.

Writing has always been an outlet for me, and as much as I love being a mum it can be incredibly lonely and isolating having a baby, especially in the middle of a pandemic when all the resources and groups meant to combat it aren’t on. I’m hoping that blogging will be a chance for me to recharge by letting me put some energy into something that’s just for me, as well as an opportunity to connect with people while I’m in the house being drooled and pooed on!

We’re big on book-inspired outfits in my house.

So, reintroduction: I’m Kirsty, I’m 28, and I live in Scotland with my husband, our baby and two cats. I’m really into being obnoxiously loud on the internet about gender roles, feminism and LGBTQA+ issues. I also like games and angry guitar music.

I primarily read Young Adult fiction, but I also really like si-fi and fantasy so I’m trying to read more widely in those genres. (High Fantasy I struggle with because I have no interest in wading through two pages describing a tree, but my husband used to read a lot of HF so we have a ton of it. I might give it another go.) Inevitably as my daughter gets older I’ll talk about baby books and stuff as well.

You can follow me on Twitter @paperbckpunkrock – I’ll link my Goodreads account to it when I remember – to see what I’m up to or currently reading, or follow the blog to catch my updates. Regardless, I’ll see you around. 🙂

MagicFest Bilbao

Harry’s MagicFest Bilbao judge wrap-up!

Possibility Storm

Bilbao was a different experience than I was expecting. I was both very anxious about the event but also very relaxed, it crept up on me quite a lot until Wednesday when I realized oh damn I’m at a MagicFest this weekend.

Thursday
I traveled down to Bilbao with a precarious but optimistic transfer window. My first leg was already delayed by half an hour when I arrived at Manchester and left an hour late, I was automatically transferred to another flight at Frankfurt, which was five hours later. Lufthansa proved to be a good choice alas as everything was very much handled including food which I had forgotten, leading me to consume five consecutive chicken sandwiches.

A sight that never grows old is – a view over a sea of clouds.

Friday
Following on from Prague, I made a new MagicFest tradition by playing two-headed giant sealed with another…

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