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.)

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: Books for when I’m sick of reading.

Nobody’s ever sick of reading, really, but the term “reading slump” makes my teeth grind involuntarily so…

Anyway, as I’ve spent god knows how many weeks now reading nothing but fanfiction, this seems appropriate. If you’re also a victim of this particular pit, my sympathies.

Since I’m rusty I’ve only done five books that I can pick up to get back into the game. I suggest reading it twice.

Knots and Crosses – Ian Rankin

knots and crosses

I can’t remember the last time I became so heavily invested in a series and a character. The only thing stopping me from reading this again right now is that there’s a whole series of them I haven’t read.

It definitely helps that the books are set in Edinburgh. As someone who works in the city I love trundling past places I’ve read about

Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

six of crows

This is the most deliciously dark and all-consuming and evocative story I’ve read for a long time. Leigh Bardugo has created such a grubby yet gorgeous universe and set of characters.

The Disaster Artist 

the disaster artist

I’ve read this account of the filming of cult movie sensation The Room several times, and it’s still one of the few books that makes me actually wheeze with laughter. Knowledge of the movie isn’t necessary but strongly recommended.

Additionally, if you haven’t seen The Room, I’d thoroughly recommend gathering some of your closest friends and watching it. It’s the only time in my adult life I’ve come close to peeing myself.

Speak – Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak

Laurie Halse Anderson is my ride or die. She’s my idol. Speak is a book that not only shuts me up for at least a day, but it also reinforces my belief that YA is the most vital of all genres.

The Pellinor Series – Alison Croggon

the singing

Everyone’s heard me screaming about this series by now, but I love it so much and it’s my go-to when I really can’t be arsed reading anything else. I always have time for Maerad and Cadvan.

On the Road – Jack Kerouac

on the road

Jack Kerouac typed the manuscript for On the Road on a single, continuous piece of paper. In three weeks. Goals.

Because of this, the language feels like it’s dropped straight out of Kerouac’s brain into the pages, and it’s so authentic and glorious that every time I read it I feel completely alive with how great writing can be. Hugely pretentious sounding, but true.

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What other books are good for when I hit the wall? GO.

Books I Need to Read: Part One

I’ve been off the grid for a while, doing stuff. To get back into the swing of things, I’ve been thinking about what books I’m probably going to need in my life in one form or another. Some are new releases, some are old ones I haven’t gotten round to.

This was originally one blog post and then while I was uploading the images I thought of LOADS more so look forward to my bank account sobbing in a part two at some point.

Every Rebus book I haven’t read yet

knots and crosses
Not this one. I’ve read this one. It was excellent.

Even though I’m enjoying other stuff at the moment, I miss Rebus. I love his Edinburgh, and his take-no-shit attitude, and trying to work out whodunnit.

Ian Rankin has ruined other books for me though. All I want to do is read Rebus. And watch the TV versions. Help.

The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon

priory of the orange tree

Fantasy? Yes. Magic? Yesss. Dragons? YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.

Children of Blood and Bone – Tomi Adeyemi

blood and bone

This is a funny one. I like the sound of it, but I’ve been burned so often by super hyped books that I almost…don’t want to read it. But I do. And I will. But I don’t.

If you see what I mean.

The Amber Spyglass – Philip Pullman

amber spyglass

My mum bought me the full set of the HDM 20th anniversary editions at the Edinburgh Book Festival because I was salivating over it. I’ve just finished with her slightly battered copy of The Subtle Knife, so when I’m emotionally stable again (two words: Alamo Gulch) I’ll crack on with the last in the trilogy.

Fault Lines – Doug Johnstone

fault lines

I asked for book suggestions on Twitter and picked one at random, which is how I was introduced to this book. I hadn’t heard of Doug Johnstone or Fault Lines, but it’s set in Edinburgh (score), albeit a reimagined contemporary Edinburgh (score) and it’s got a murder in it (score). All my boxes are ticked.

Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? – Holly Black

lemmings and snowflakes

I’m saving this one for last because I haven’t read any Holly Black before and if I mention that too early I risk shame.

I’ve been meaning to get to the Spinster Club, but in the meantime this book sounds awesome and I have high expectations.

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What else should I be reading? What’s on your TBR? How much trouble am I in for going back to the book festival tomorrow? (Lots, probably.)

Book Spotlight | Knots & Crosses by Ian Rankin

knots and crosses

Detective John Rebus: His city is being terrorised by a baffling series of murders…and he’s tied to a maniac by an invisible knot of blood. Once John Rebus served in Britain’s elite SAS. Now he’s an Edinburgh cop who hides from his memories, misses promotions and ignores a series of crank letters. But as the ghoulish killings mount and the tabloid headlines scream, Rebus cannot stop the feverish shrieks from within his own mind. Because he isn’t just one cop trying to catch a killer, he’s the man who’s got all the pieces to the puzzle… 

As someone who’s spent most of her life living in Fife, I’m ashamed that it’s taken me so long to read an Ian Rankin book. In my defence, I’d have done it sooner if I wasn’t a stickler for chronological order and the first book wasn’t the only one that my parents didn’t have in their house.

Never mind. Better late than never, and I LOVED IT.

I loved Rebus. He’s a cynical, divorced Detective Sergeant who drinks and smokes and is generally pretty sardonic. Should be so far, so cliche, but Ian Rankin’s writing of him makes him an absolute revelation.

I loved Rebus’ Edinburgh. It’s not the tourist’s Edinburgh, with the castle and the Mile and the Old Town. It’s Lothian Road and the seedy bars you only go into if you’re local, and the difference between the upper crust and the grotty bits.

I loved the story, which was intense and dark and full of unsavoury characters, but so clever and evocative that it was an absolute joy to read. Rankin’s writing style is gloriously dry and witty and Scottish I actually audibly snorted on the train.

See possibly my favourite line in any book ever:

“If you buzz down to him, I’ll come back up and kick that telephone so far up your arse that you really will be able to make internal calls. Do you get my drift?”

Magnificent stuff. I’ve not read a lot of crime fiction, but this has set the bar pretty high. You could have set it in any city and it would have been great, but the fact that it was set in Edinburgh, on streets that I see on my way to work every day, made it even more fun

Also Ian Rankin was only 25 years old when he wrote this. Man’s a genius. I am suitably intimidated.

Book Spotlight | Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

six of crows

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist.

Yes! Rejoice! I’ve finally read this book after buying it last October. I’m not going to lie, it took me a while to get into, but OH BOY was my initial disappointment blown away.

It’s an edge-of-your-seat story about a heist, about feuding and crime, but that’s not even the best bit. The more I found out about the six characters – criminals, a barbaric hunter, a privileged boy – the more my heart grew and broke at the same time.

 

It had love, it had drama, it had a world so dark and grubby and evocative that I wanted to have a bath at multiple points. The characters shine through it like diamonds.

Basically, I loved it. I’ll be buying the sequel for my holiday.

Oh and also, “I will have you without armour, Kaz Brekker, or I will not have you at all.” Hold me.

Rating: *****

My To-Buy list – pre-holiday

Last week I booked my summer holiday. Hooray! I’m off to Barcelona for a week at the end of this month. Sean’s brother lives there, so it’s amazing that it’s taken me so long to book a trip.

I’m very excited, but I’m going to need reading material. Partly for the beach, where I will drag Sean against his will, and partly to stave off my plane anxieties. Here is what I have so far.

The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock

mermaid mrs hancock

I know nothing about this book but I’ve seen enough people talking about it that I thoroughly want to read it.

Plus mermaids are cool.

The Cruel Prince – Holly Black

cruel prince

I really like Holly Black, but I haven’t read her books for years. Tithe, Ironside and Valiant were staples on my bookshelf when I was first getting into urban fantasy. The Cruel Prince sounds like my cue to get more involved.

Goodbye, Perfect – Sara Barnard

goodbye perfect

Slightly ashamed of myself for not owning this already, particularly as I loved the other two Sara Barnard books. This might be an airport pick-up…

Whatever the first Sarah J Maas book is

court ofIt’s probably not this one.

I have no idea how many of these there are but in my head its about 600. I’ve never heard people be so conflicted about an author’s, so even if I hate it I’m going to buy one and I’m going to read it. And then I’ll probably read more because I have FOMO.

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If you’ve read any of these and there’s one or two in particular that I MUST get, let me know. Particularly if it’ll distract me from my fear of meeting a fiery end in a Ryanair plane.