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.

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!

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…

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!

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…

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.