Thursday, March 6, 2014

World Book Day 2014 - Recently Read and Childhood Favourites


I actually forgot all about World Book Day until my son asked for some old books to do a book swap at school (he picked excellent ones to take home - books by Roald Dahl, David Walliams and a Dog Encylopedia). I was going to do some nail art but I had some already done for another occasion so I decided instead to show you a few of my recent reads (or 2014 reads so far) and talk about a few of my favourite childhood books.

Recently Loved

  • The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood This is the second novel by Alex. Her first novel, The Wicked Girls was one of my favourite reads of 2013. This one was just as good - a group of people who seemingly have nothing in common end up, for various reasons, living in an apartment complex owned by an absolute pig of a landlord. He's lecherous, greedy, mean, and inappropriate. One night, a terrible accident happens and the gang have to decide what they're going to do - oh, and did I mention that one of them is a particularly deranged serial killer? Couldn't put it down. I found myself looking forward to night feeds just so I'd get another chapter in!
  • The Real Mrs. Brown - Brendan O'Carroll, The Authorised Biography by Brian Beacom I wouldn't be the hugest fan of Mrs. Brown or her boys (though I have on occasion almost wet myself laughing at it, but I have to be in particularly silly humour) but I'm a big fan of Brendan O'Carroll. He's a remarkable man who has maintained a positive outlook on life despite being thrown some huge curve balls in his time. He's witty, hard-working, and has had some ingenious ideas. This biography was sweet, it was heartwarming, and it was funny. A really, really nice read.
  • Doctor Sleep - Stephen King One of my favourite things about this was that it prompted me to re-read The Shining before I started it. I'd forgotten how amazing a book it was, and it was brilliant to revisit the world of the Torrances (and indeed Tony). We meet Abra Stone, who also has an amazing gift - and we get to find out what became of young Danny Torrance. A definite must-read!
  • The Sugar Queen - Sarah Addison Allen This isn't a new book by any means. I'd read Sarah's book Garden Spells a few years ago and I'd frequently wanted to re-read it, it had a serious Practical Magic vibe to it. Her books all have a somewhat magical quality to them, this one included. Josey lives for romance novels, secret stashes of chocolate and sweets, and has been in love with her mailman from afar for as long as she can remember. One morning she wakes to discover local ex-lady of the night/waitress Della Lee in her closet. Della Lee has escaped a bad relationship and while she's hiding out at Josey's, she helps her to find herself and question what she's doing with her life. It's a really sweet read, it's never going to win an award but you know what? I've read some heinously crap award-winners, so give it a chance if you like your fiction with a healthy dose of magic.

Recently Hated

  • Saving Rachel by John Locke The only reason I bought this was because it was really cheap on the Kobo website and I was sick of converting things I'd bought for Kindle. I wish I'd saved myself the bother of even downloading it - it's absolutely one of the worst "books" I've ever, ever read. The main character is disgusting, a real misogynistic ass. He's cheating on his wife and constantly makes references to how brilliant he is and how clever he is. He refers to the women in his life as if they were pieces of meat with breasts attached. The premise reeled me in - man cheats on wife, wife is kidnapped, man panics and gets involved with criminals - I think John Locke is incredibly good at writing a synopsis. He's a genius at it, because he made this sound like a Harlan Coben or Andrew Gross novel when really - it reads like nothing more than the ramblings of a horny, hyperactive, oversexed pre-pubescent teenage boy obsessed with breasts. Oh no, sorry, not breasts. "Titties". Seriously... I struggled to finish it, even though the chapters were 1-3 pages each of snappy, short dialogue. Awful beyond belief. 
Currently Reading

  • The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides I'm reading this as part of my 1001 Books Challenge. Honesty Corner - I haven't touched it yet. I'm behind on all my reading challenges, but I will catch up!!
  • If You Lived Here, You'd Be Perfect By Now by Robin Hardwick Essentially a book-by-book pisstake of the first 100 Sweet Valley High books. Not half as entertaining as Kitty's particular brand of actual-laugh-out-loud sarcasm, but still very funny.
  • The Silent Wife by A.S.A Harrison This is a thriller written from both the perspective of the murderer and victim - we're told at the very beginning that the wife is going to kill her husband, so it's not a spoiler - but it's so mind-numbingly boring and mundane that I'm looking for excuses to put it away. I do want to give it a chance, but I'm struggling with it. Harrison is one of a number of people who have sadly found fame posthumously - she passed away before she could see the success of her work.
  • Carrie by Stephen King Having read The Shining and Doctor Sleep, I got a grá for Mr. King again after many years. He was always my favourite author as a teen, so it's been a hell of a long time since I've read any of his better known works. I'm revisiting Carrie at the moment and loving every minute of it, and I plan to re-read as many of his books as I can over the coming months.
Childhood Favourites

Leaving aside acres of Sweet Valley High books, Malory Towers, St. Claire's and Point Romance, here are 6 of my all-time favourites from my pre-teen years.

  • What Katy Did by Susan M. Coolidge I re-read this a thousand times - Katy was warned by her father not to play on the swing in the shed because it wasn't set up properly. Boisterous Katy defies him, falls off, and ends up temporarily paralyzed. Her beautiful wheelchair-bound cousin comes to visit her and helps her to appreciate what she has in life. In this book they play a game called Kikeri that I've never forgotten - I'm sure it's what we called Murder in the Dark
  • The Faraway Tree Stories by Enid Blyton This series was the ultimate in fantasy reading - imagine a magical tree filled with all kinds of interesting unusual folk. That in itself is a great story, but add in a couple of regular children who befriend them and get to visit the different lands that appear at the top of the tree and you have a series that's magnetic even as an adult. I'll be buying this for my eldest son's next birthday. 
  • The Babysitter by R.L. Stine I loved all the Point Horror books but this one was my favourite - it's basically When a Stranger Calls but much milder on the graphic violence and general ick-ness. Other favourites are April Fools, The Cheerleader, Prom Date.
  • Sam, Bangs and Moonshine by Evaline Ness I'd forgotten all about this book until I stumbled across it again a few years ago. It's just really enchanting - Sam is a little girl who has a cat (bangs) and has a bit of a problem with telling lies, or making up fantastical stories (her father calls them Moonshine). She ends up in serious trouble when a friend is in danger, but she eventually realises that while the truth is best, we all need a little bit of Moonshine in our lives.
  • Goosebumps: The Haunted Mask by R.L. Stine I pretty much read the entire Goosebumps series, but this is the one that has stayed with me. It's genuinely creepy - Carly Beth wants to scare her friends at Halloween and comes across the scariest, most gross mask she can find. Unfortunately, when she puts it on - it becomes her face. 
  • The Secret Island by Enid Blyton This is one of the first books I remember keeping in my bedside locker to re-read over and over again. A group of children escape to an island and have to basically do a Tom Hanks on it and get inventive to survive - even sneaking back on to the mainland at one point and managing to manoeuver a cow out by boat to get milk! It's absolutely brilliant. 

I'm happy to see my eldest boy reading books - at the moment he's loving The Twits by Roald Dahl, The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney, and Gangsta Gran by David Walliams.

Read anything good lately?


  1. You have me totally intrigued by the Killer next door, I was already after your goodreads review but even more now! Loved Doctor Sleep too and Carrie. I'm reading a few at the mo; The Stand, Mrs Dalloway, Starter for ten, A monster calls and I'm about to start the fourth Harry Potter! Trying to catch up with my goodreads challenge! x

  2. Ooh that book swap sounds great! What a fun thing for kids.

    I LOVE the Faraway Tree series, even now as an adult. Such fun. I loved all of Enid Blyton though I've never read that Secret Island book. I had another book about a secret island (not The Island of Adventure, but called The Adventurous Four. There's a book with the Famous Five on an island as well, she loved her islands!) which I used to have an audiobook and my siblings and I would all listen to it!


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