Six For Sunday | Books From My Childhood

Six for Sunday is a weekly book meme run by Steph at A Little but a Lot, and this week it’s books from my childhood! I’ve picked a selection that stick out in my memory.

I’m deliberately choosing not to mention my childhood-defining book because it’s written by That Author, and while it probably shaped me and fundamentally affected me more than any other book or series, I’m not giving it clout. Trans rights are human rights.

Dogger – Shirley Hughes

Yes this is a real book. It’s got a happy ending but for any child with a favourite teddy, it’s a roller coaster.

(My mum used to work in a nursery and a few years ago it turned out she’d never heard of this book. She thought I was making it up. On a trip to Waterstones I discovered it and pulled it out of the shelf while triumphantly announcing DOGGER, which I shortly realised afterwards was perhaps not the best idea in the middle of a shop.

Old Bear Stories – Jane Hissey

The literary equivalent of your mum coming round when you’re sad and giving you a cuddle. I adore these books, and the TV series, and as soon as my daughter is old enough to be read a book without taking it from me and stuffing the pages into her mouth, I’ll be reading her these.

Animal Ark –

These books are incredible and I’m seriously tempted to rebuy the whole series “for my daughter” and then read them all.

My Secret Unicorn – Linda Chapman

My sister had basically this entire series and they were really Not My Thing at that stage of my life (Unicorns? Could not be me) but they were oddly compelling and totally wholesome so I stole them and read them under the covers.

Animal Stories – Enid Blyton

I loved animals growing up – still do, in fact – and I loved Enid Blyton, so this was a match made in heaven. The children who lived at Green Meadowsd had SO MANY PETS and they were all SO WELL BEHAVED and it’s so WHOLESOME.

The 7 in 1 Collection – Enid Blyton

For a child this was an absolute UNIT of a book, and I loved it. The House at the Corner in particular I read again and a gain – the characters were so much Older and more Grown Up than I was and it felt so incredibly edgy to nine-year-old me.


I’ve had a look at some lists and spotted some books I’d totally forgotten about, so I’m going to be filling up a classic bookshelf for my baby. Have you read any of mine? Let me know!

Happy Halloween! | My Favourite Horror Novel

Aging, self-absorbed rock star Judas Coyne has a thing for the macabre — his collection includes sketches from infamous serial killer John Wayne Gacy, a trepanned skull from the 16th century, a used hangman’s noose, Aleister Crowley’s childhood chessboard, etc. — so when his assistant tells him about a ghost for sale on an online auction site, he immediately puts in a bid and purchases it.

The black, heart-shaped box that Coyne receives in the mail not only contains the suit of a dead man but also his vengeance-obsessed spirit. The ghost, it turns out, is the stepfather of a young groupie who committed suicide after the 54-year-old Coyne callously used her up and threw her away. Now, determined to kill Coyne and anyone who aids him, the merciless ghost of Craddock McDermott begins his assault on the rocker’s sanity.


Heart-Shaped Box was a book I bought years ago, purely because it shares its name with a Nirvana song. Yes, it really is that easy to get me to buy your novel!

It’s a ghost story with a modern twist. No old-timey haunted house here, just a genuinely creepy malevolent spirit that follows the protagonist wherever he goes. There’s possession, ouija boards, a haunted suit and mirrors that show spooky shit.

Joe Hill throws all the unrealistic-and-yet-totally-possible fears that people experience and makes them so evocative it’s chilling. You know when you’re in a dark room in your house and get the momentary panic that you’re going to see something awful? The trepidation you get, and the sick feeling of dread when you step in? Or the fear when you hear radio static that a dreadful voice is going to emerge above the noise?

I went downstairs at midnight to turn my central heating off and loudly sand “If You’re Happy And You Know It” the whole way.

Heart-Shaped Box kicks into high gear at around page 20 and never really puts you down again. It’s absolutely breakneck, atmospheric, dark, grim, heartbreaking, witty, and genuinely incredibly creepy from beginning to end. If you like horror and rock music and thrills, here’s the book for you. Happy Halloween!

CW for Heart-Shaped Box: child abuse, sexual abuse, suicide, mental illness. Also the dog dies.

Book Review | The Forest of Ghosts and Bones – Lisa Lueddecke

The Eve of Saints approaches and the poison rain which shrouds Castle Marcosza strains at its boundaries. When Béata’s brother is taken by the rain, Béata and her friend Benedek must make a perilous journey of discovery to uncover the root of her secret – why she is the only person who can walk through the rain unscathed. But Béata is soon caught up in a game of cat-and-mouse with mysterious Liljana, a girl with hidden powers of her own.


I preordered The Forest of Ghosts and Bones because I LOVED Lisa Lueddecke’s debut A Shiver of Snow and Sky. It was vivid and delicious and atmospheric.

I found TFOGAB a little lighter on the atmosphere side, but it was still incredibly evocative. The forests of Marcosza, the ominous Castle Vyesta, the dangerous city of Târu. Even the mage kingdom of Muranj, although we never see it, feels like somewhere we know pretty intimately. I liked the idea of the rain being dangerous – the most unsettling things to me are the most innocuous ones, so the weather being able to kill you is effectively creepy. The baddies are genuiblnely nasty, too.

There were a few niggly things that dragged me back out of the story – the romantic undercurrent between Béata and Benedek didn’t do it for me, and I found Béata and Liljiana likable enough if quite one-dimensional, but overall it was a solid fantasy read, and great for the evenings drawing in.

Also the front cover is stunning. 10/10.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Top Ten Tuesday | Books I Read Because They Were Recommended To Me

I have two main sources of book recommendations: Book Twitter and my mum. This list is mostly a mixture of the two, with some other people thrown in for good measure.

All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

A recommendation from my mother. Didn’t do a huge amount for me, but she enjoyed it.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

My mum’s friend insisted she read this and loaned her a copy, and my mum loved it so much she went out and bought her own. Then insisted I read it as well.

Fair play Maw, it was EXCELLENT.

Fault Lines – Doug Johnstone

I put a call out on Twitter before a trip to Waterstones one day looking for recs and then used a random number generator to pick one. Fault Lines was the winner. I enjoyed it so much I gave it to my mum. Our recommending relationship goes two ways.

On The Road – Jack Kerouac

Fun fact: my auntie teaches American Literature and Beat Poetry in the US, did her PhD thesis on Kerouac and is a pretty well-known voice on the subject. My granny famously called the Beats “hippy muck”. Between them they got me to read On The Road.

Magician – Raymond E. Feist

This is one of my husband’s favourite books (he’s a huge high fantasy dork) and he kept suggesting it to me. I’ve read it in bits and pieces because…high fantasy usually isn’t my thing. When I have the time and inclination I will go back and read it all, in order, properly.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard

I think Sara Barnard must be one of the most beloved UKYA authors, so when I was just getting into the scene her books were among the first I went looking for. AQKOT is so sweet and relatable and relevant, and I can see why people love her so much.

The Fandom – Anna Day

The Fandom is a book that came highly, highly recommended from Twitter before it was even released, so obviously I got a copy pretty soon after it was released.

Bit of a lesson in tempering my expectations because I feel like the hype let it down – it was good, but the hype combined with the premise (I love a bit of fandom) meant I was expecting it to change my world, and it didn’t.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S. Thompson

Fear and Loathing came to me via my Advanced Higher English teacher. I wanted to write my dissertation on On The Road but I had to pick at least two novels, and when I was stumped for a second choice this was her suggestion.

I can’t remember her name but shout out to you, teacher-who-wasn’t-the-one-obsessed-with-Shakespeare.

Lion – Saloo Brierly

Lion was another rec from my mum, and the little quote on the front got me. Once I’d started reading it got me even more. By the end I didn’t know whether to punch the air or cry.

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe – Lauren James

Another one Book Twitter got me all excited about (although if it hadn’t, the cover would have sold me on it). Also taught me an important lesson: nothing ruins a good twist like everyone talking about how good the twist was.


While we’re at it, REC ME A BOOK. I have an outlandishly large TBR and it needs to be bigger.

Six For Sunday | Books That Gave Me Feels

For someone who loves books, I get proper PROPER feels surprisingly rarely when I’m reading. Mostly I get them from a cheeky wee romance, but a particularly brutal twist or a powerful message can do it as well. Here’s six books that managed.

The Singing – Alison Croggon

The Pellinor series made me feel A Lot in general, but the slowburn romance undercurrent that culminates in The Singing genuinely had me sitting with my nose nearly touching the pages on the train until I finished.

Also the surprise romance at the end. INJECT IT DIRECTLY INTO MY VEINS.

Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

I tend to be disappointed by books that come to me hugely hyped because my expectations are astronimocally high, but I quickly became very heavily invested in this ragtag bunch and their escapades. I still haven’t read the second one in the series to my eternal shame because the end of this one did Things to me.

Also: I ship it. Hard.

Mary’s the Name – Ross Sayers

Oh, Mary. You broke my heart entirely from beginning to end, with your innocence and your relationship with your Granpa and the way I saw your story unfold through your eight-year-old narrative. Emotionally ruined.

Ironside – Holly Black

The romance between Kaye and Roibin had me grinning like an absolute dickhead all the way through Tithe so the continuation of it in Ironside was just DELICIOUS. It’s been long enough since I read it that I’m dying to pick it up again so I can relive the joy.

Blaze – Richard Bachman (Stephen King)

More of a thriller than a typical Stephen King horror, Blaze made me feel like I’d been roundhouse kicked in the solar plexus by the time I’d reached the end. What a journey.

The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas

This book made me angry, made me uncomfortable, made me question myself and made me want to educate people. Everyone should read THUG.


Because it’s pretty rare for me to get Proper Feels from a book, I’m always looking for something that’s going to sucker punch me. I’m going to be browsing other blogs to find recs!

Book Review | Sight Unseen by Sandra Ireland

1648. Alie Gowdie marries Richard Webster during a turbulent time in Scotland’s history. Charles I is about to lose his head, and little does Alie know that she too will meet a grisly end within the year.

2019. Sarah Sutherland is struggling to cope with the demands of her day job, caring for her elderly father and keeping tabs on her backpacking daughter. She wanted to be an archaeologist, but now in her forties, she is divorced, alone, and there seems to be no respite, no glimmer of excitement on the horizon. However, she does have a special affinity with the Kilgour Witch, Alie Gowdie, who lived in Sarah’s cottage until her execution in 1648, and Sarah likes nothing better than to retreat into a world of sorcery, spells and religious fanaticism.

Her stories delight tourists as she leads them along the cobbled streets of her home town, but what really lies behind the tale of Alie Gowdie, the Kilgour Witch? Can Sarah uncover the truth in order to right a centuries-old wrong? And what else might modern-day Kilgour be hiding, just out of sight?


I started drafting this review while I was on the last wee bit of Sight Unseen. I just finished reading it, at midnight, and I’ve deleted everything I’d written so far and started again.

Let’s begin with the basics. Sandra (one of my uni creative writing cohorts, by the way, let me just name drop a little) calls herself a “purveyor of Fine Tartan Gothic”, which is a pretty accurate description of her books. Sight Unseen is set in the fictional town of Kilgour, which has a past steeped in witchcraft and mysticism.

Sandra is incredible at writing settings that are essentially characters in their own right – they’re evocative and you can feel their presence in every scene, likebackground music. You can tell she absolutely immerses herself in her settings when she writes and it shines through. After a few chapters of Sight Unseen I felt like I’ve grown up in Kilgour, with all its charm and uncomfortable history.

I’ll tell you something else about Sandra: she’s an absolute master of the curveball, of weaving multiple seemingly unrelated threads through a story and suddenly yanking them all together behind you. The twists aren’t outlandish, but you never see them coming until they’re upon you and everything falls into place. She’s got phenomenal talent and Sight Unseen is an absolute joy to read from beginning to end – it’ll chill you and shock you and make you smile.

Sight Unseen ends on a “to be continued”, and I can’t wait for the next one. I have a feeling I know what it’s going to focus on, although knowing Sandra I’m probably miles wrong…

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Top Ten Tuesday | Books With Super Long Titles

Long book titles are fun! I find them more intriguing than short or one-word titles. I’m a million times more curious to read The Miseducation of Cameron Post than I am Atonement.

I decided I’d omit anything with a colon in the title, because that feels like cheating, and I haven’t written my usual wee paragraph because…well, they’re all fairly self-explanatory. Onward!

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon

All God’s Children Need Travelling Shoes – Maya Angelou

It’s OK, I’m Wearing Really Big Knickers – Louise Rennison

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret – Judy Blume

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe – Fannie Flagg

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World – Ashley Herring Blake

Chocolate Mousse for Greedy Goose – Julia Donaldson

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S. Thompson

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert M. Pirsig

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams


Going to be browsing everyone’s TTT list this week for some additions to my TBR. Long titles forever!

Six For Sunday | Characters I’d Be Scared To Meet

Last week I talked about the authors and characters I’d like to have coffee with, and this week it’s characters I’d be scared to meet!

(I have anxiety so that’s generally most people, but I’ll try to be discerning.)

Kell – A Darker Shade Of Magic

I had Kell in my “Characters I’d like to go for a coffee with” S4S post last week, but like I said then I doubt he’d have time for my self-consciousness and dreadful awkward patter. He would CUT ME DOWN.

I do want a look at his coat though.

Inspector John Rebus – Ian Rankin

Rebus is a compelling character and his humour and attitude are familiar to me (I live near Edinburgh, where the books are set, and not far from where Ian Rankin is from) but like Kell I think he’d have no time for my nonsense, and I think he’d probably tell me.

Hailey – The Hate U Give

In years gone past I MIGHT have given characters like Hailey the benefit of the doubt, because the internet has made it much easier to be come educated and learn about the lived experiences of other people and why seemingly innocuous things stem from harmful sources and perpetuate negative stereotypes, but she literally has a Tumblr and STILL doesn’t get it. So she doesn’t get a pass from me, and even though I’d probably try to educate her I feel like I’d end up snapping.

Augustus Waters – The Fault In Our Stars

This is a fairly seminal YA text and it’s touched a lot of people and I feel awful for slagging off the main characters but Gus is so boring and pretentious that he makes me gnaw on my own knuckles.

Anyone out of Twilight

Okay I know it’s a bit passé to slate Twilight now but every single character in this series is so unbelievably insipid that I can imagine every single conversation being excruciating. HARD PASS.

Enkir – The Pellinor series

Enkir is the personification of everything I hate: a misogynist, a power-hungry villain, a disloyal and two-faced creep. Someone running behind the scenes to make sure the bad guys win for his own personal gain. Just the absolute antithesis of everything I stand for and we’d probably get into a fight. And then he’d probably try to kill me.


I can’t wait to see everyone’s suggestions! Seems ideal for Halloween…

Book Review | Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming–both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up.


I confess immediately that I am shamefully ignorant when it comes to Middle Eastern history. I’d heard of things like the Islamic Revolution in passing, but I had no idea what it was, where it happened and what effects it had on the countries involved.

Subsequently, I went into Persepolis entirely blind. I’d heard a few Booktubers talking about it, so when I spotted it in my local comic book store I snapped it up. (The daughter of the owners also highly recommended it. Bonus!) I had no idea really what to expect – such was my ignorance.

What an education. The complex bits – the introduction to the culture and politics of the region, and the background leading up to the events – are presented through the lens of young Marjane, so they’re simplified without being patronising. As she grows up she shows her struggles with identity – during her education in Europe and her return to Iran – in an unflinchingly honest way, both in terms of the history and her own attitudes. (If you want to pull a selection of awkward faces, by the way, check out the two-star Goodreads reviews describing “the main character” like it’s not a memoir. Brutal.)

If I’ve discovered one thing it’s that a graphic novel is a perfect vehicle for learning. It allows you to present difficult and infomation-heavy topics in a way that’s easy to absorb without having to patronise or dumb it down. Persepolis is definitely for graphic novel and history nerds, but everyone should read it if they have a chance – it’s an insight into a country and culture that was certainly never included in the curriculum when I was in education.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Six For Sunday | Characters/Authors I’d Like To Go For A Coffee With

I like coffee. I like books. One day I’d like to be an author. This prompt speaks to me.

I have crippling social anxiety and I’m dreadful at small talk, but let’s pretend for the purposes of this exercise that it doesn’t make me sweat profusely.

Laurie Halse Anderson

If I could pick anyone’s brain, it’d be Laurie Halse Anderson. She writes the most incredible YA books and manages to deal with tough, relevant issues sensitively without shying away from them. Exactly the kind of thing I’d like to be able to.

George – The Famous Five

I always wondered how George grew up, after spending her childhood dressing and identifying as a boy and refusing to answer to the name Georgina. There are theories now that she was a very early example of a trans character in children’s literature, even though she’s simply described as a “tomboy” in the books. I read the books when I was very young and they were a big influence on me in terms of not being “girly” and conforming to gender stereotypes, and even then it broke my heart wondering what George would have done when she reached puberty and potentially found it more difficult to “pass”.

Kell – A Darker Shade of Magic

Oh he’d have absolutely no time for me whatsoever, but still.

Alison Croggon

Another author I’d love to hang out with, and talk about worldbuilding. Alison Croggon has created a rich, intricate setting and lore in the Pellinor series and I’d love to know how she manages it. I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

Aled and Frances – Radio Silence

I really, really identify with Aled and Frances in different ways. I always say that Radio Silence is the book I wish I’d had when I was in high school – I like to think I’d have been friends with them both.

V.E. Schwab

Based on nothing other than Instagram, I can absolutely see myself hanging out with V.E. Schwab in some coffee shop with mahogany furniture and a log fire.


This is a great prompt, and I can’t wait to see who other people would take out for coffee!